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Is it bad to ride your brakes in a hybrid vehicle? If the answer varies per model, I'm interested in the 2017 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid.

I know it's bad to ride your brakes in a conventional vehicle as it prevents cooling the brakes. However, I know hybrids use regenerative braking, and I'm not sure whether the brakes always engage, or just when a certain stopping force is needed.

In the Sonata in particular, I have also noticed that when going downhill with cruise control on, the car constantly shows "regenerative" mode, stays at a constant speed, and doesn't feel like it's shifting between disc, electric, or engine braking. I have to assume it wouldn't do this if it were damaging to the car.

  • My question would be, to what end? Why would you want to ride the brakes? Even with regenerative braking, there's no free lunch ... you just get to eat part of your lunch over again. Yah, sometimes it leaves a bad taste in your mouth or leaves you feeling like you have the bovine four stomachs going on, but it works. Riding your brakes infers you are stepping on the brake pedal at the same time as pressing the accelerator. Not a good thing to do whether conventional or hybrid. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Jul 17 '17 at 18:24
  • @Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 I thought "riding your brakes" was always assumed to be something one did when driving downhill. I've updated the title to make this clear. As for why you would do that, it provides a smoother ride than oscillating between, say, 5 over and under the speed limit by toggling your brakes on and off. – MooseBoys Jul 18 '17 at 2:40
  • Smoother ride maybe, but it's also a good way to burn out your brakes through overheating before you get to the bottom. Riding the brakes is never a good option. It's bad to ride your brakes in any vehicle for whatever reason. By oscillating between friction braking and engine braking, you're giving your friction brakes a chance too cool down a little. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Jul 18 '17 at 10:48
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Hybrids use regenerative braking. However, the battery cannot absorb enough energy in mountainous regions, which means the disk brakes will be used as a fallback. So, the answer is yes and no: yes, it may be bad to ride the brakes, but no, it is not more bad to ride the brakes in a hybrid than it is to ride the brakes on a regular car. Hybrid has more braking capacity due to the regenerative braking system. So less braking heat problems than in regular cars.

However, if you drive in a mountainous region, consider using the engine braking mode. Most Toyota hybrids have a "B" gear selector mode meaning engine braking. My hybrid (2016 Toyota RAV4 hybrid) has manual shifting modes, so the amount of engine braking can be adjusted to match the grade of the hill.

My hybrid disables the cruise control when manually shifting to a position 1-3; the positions 4-6 allow cruise control to be enabled. So, you may need to disable the cruise control in order to use engine braking depending on your car. I don't know enough about Hyundai hybrids, but I presume they are at least somewhat similar to Toyota hybrids.

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