Why Do EV Brakes Need To Be Cleaned?

Almost all EVs on the road today use a regenerative braking system that converts energy that would have been wasted as heat into electricity and feeds it back into the battery.

However, EVs still need standard hydraulic brakes that grab a brake rotor or push against a brake drum. Regenerative braking is great for regular driving, but if you need to stop suddenly or hold your vehicle in a stopped position for a while, your EV will use its hydraulic brakes.

These brake systems have moving parts that need to be ready to perform when you need them.

Relying primarily on regenerative braking means those physical brake parts just sit there collecting road debris, road salt, and other grime. This creates the perfect conditions for rust, which can reduce the effectiveness of your brakes, potentially resulting in longer stopping distances. In an emergency, this can be incredibly dangerous.

It’s important to have your brakes cleaned regularly to keep them in good condition.

What Parts Need Cleaning?

Anything that moves in the brake system needs to be cleaned (and lubricated if necessary). This includes all caliper brackets and mounting points:

  • Brake rotors should have any surface rust removed with a wire brush.
  • Caliper slide bolts will need to be greased with the right lubricant.
  • Brake pads need to be removed from the caliper, and any rust should be removed with a wire brush.

Most vehicles have disc brakes at the front of the vehicle and drum brakes at the rear. The disc brakes will require more frequent cleaning than the drum brakes. Refer to your owner’s manual and speak to a professional mechanic at a NexDrive service center for advice on when to have each set of your brakes cleaned.

Although some vehicle maintenance tasks can be easily done at home, e.g., checking the oil on your hybrid’s engine, or giving your car a detailed cleaning, properly servicing EV hydraulic brakes requires more tools, knowledge, and time.

Tools for Cleaning EV Brakes

To make sure the job is done right, it’s wise to have your brakes serviced by a professional mechanic. A professional mechanic will use tools like these:

  • Gloves
  • Safety goggles
  • Brake part cleaner
  • Floor jack
  • Jack stands or a car lift
  • Wheel chock
  • Lug wrench
  • Socket set
  • Ratchet
  • Brake grease
  • Brake pad compressor


Although you may have these tools at home, your technician may have access to industrial-grade tools that will make this job run smoother (e.g., they may lift your car with a car lift instead of a floor jack.)

How a Professional Cleans Brakes

To give you an idea of how the process looks, the steps below outline a general brake cleaning focusing on disc brakes:

  1. With the vehicle in park, a floor jack (or car lift) is used to lift one end of the vehicle.
  2. A lug wrench is used to remove a wheel. The wheel hub is inspected for any signs of corrosion. Rust is removed with a wire brush.
  3. The brake caliper is removed from the mount.
  4. The brake pads are removed, and any rust is removed with a wire brush.
  5. The brake caliper slider pins are removed, and any grease is cleaned off. Brake part cleaner is sprayed on the brake caliper mount and left to dry.
  6. New grease is applied to the brake caliper slider pins before reinstalling them.
  7. A thin layer of brake grease is applied to the brake caliper mount in the slotted area where the brake pad tabs are held.
  8. The brake pads are reinstalled.
  9. A brake pad compressor is used to compress the brake caliper piston(s) before reinstalling the brake caliper.
  10. The whole process is repeated on the opposite side.
  11. The brake pedal is pumped several times before trying to move the car. This closes the gap that was opened when the brake caliper pistons were compressed. The brake pedal is pumped until it feels firm and no longer falls to the floor.
  12. The wheel is put back on and the vehicle is taken off the jack stands.

Where To Go For Professional EV Brake Service

At NexDrive, we offer brake servicing for EVs, including hybrids. For more information or to book an EV brake cleaning service, chat with a knowledgeable expert at a NexDrive service centre.