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Watch A Tesla Model S Plaid's Brakes Catch Fire During Testing

Maybe those upcoming carbon ceramics should've come stock

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The brakes on the Model S Plaid have come under fire recently for poor heat dissipation. Throttle House was one of the first to make the brakes a sticking point, but even Hagerty’s Randy Pobst (as told by Jason Cammisa on the Carmudgeon Show podcast) had little confidence in the heavy sedan’s ability to slow itself. Jason Fenske of Engineering Explained “definitely wouldn’t say they are” phenomenal track brakes based on how much mass the Model S Plaid carries, and the speeds it can achieve.

Now, there’s another entrant into the YouTube Model S Plaid Brake Failure Hall Of Fame: A test from the channel PlaidAF, during which the Tesla’s front brakes caught fire. Take a look:

Watch the brakes ignite around 4:45.

The test is simple. Todd, owner of the PlaidAF channel and this particular Model S, recently ordered a big brake kit for his Plaid. In order to see how much of an improvement the kit actually made, he decided to time a series of ten consecutive 100-30 mph stops on the stock brakes as a baseline. Then, he’d re-do the test on the new rotors and calipers, and see if the improvement was worth the investment.


The only problem is, the Tesla didn’t make it to ten stops on the stock brakes. After just three hard stops, the brakes began to smell. After five, a warning came up on the car’s dashboard saying the brakes were too hot. After eight stops, the group decided to cut the test short and check on the brakes — and good thing they did.

Image for article titled Watch A Tesla Model S Plaid's Brakes Catch Fire During Testing
Screenshot: PlaidAF on YouTube

While ten (or even eight) consecutive 100-30 mph stops may sound harsh, it’s not unreasonable to expect similar brake conditions during a track day or a spirited drive down a twisty canyon road. Short, harsh braking zones, like this test, can even be easier on brakes than an untrained driver holding the pedal halfway down for extended periods — and I’ve got the thoroughly cooked brake pads to prove it.

While Tesla claims it will introduce a carbon ceramic option for the Plaid, it will cost $20,000 when it’s actually made available. For those unwilling to pony up that kind of cash, the Plaid seems to function best as a missile: All go and no stop.