EVs generally do not need big brakes because they slow down using a combination of friction brakes AND regenerative braking from the electric motor. But in the automotive industry, brightly painted brakes signify a sporty car with performance credentials. For this reason, top trim ‘Performance’ Tesla cars come with larger wheels, larger brake disks, and larger red painted brake calipers.
Enthusiast owners on a budget can turn to the aftermarket for painted caliper covers that bolt on directly on top of the existing brakes for an enhanced look. I thought there was a lot of empty space in between the spokes of the 20-inch ‘Induction’ wheels of my Model Y Long Range, so I decided to experiment by ordering one of the most popular kits online.
There are no performance benefits to this modification, it is the equivalent of painting racing stripes to go faster. And it doesn’t feel so dishonest after you learn that Tesla themselves have started to use caliper covers for the rear brakes of the ‘performance’ Model Y from the factory. It is silly, but I like the visual upgrade and that is enough reason for me. You can buy caliper covers in bright colors like yellow, lime green, or pink to help stand out from the sea of white and gray Teslas. But since my car was red, getting red covers seemed most tasteful.
Can you install caliper covers yourself?
Absolutely, this is a fun weekend project. If you have ever changed a wheel on a car, these brake caliper covers are an easy DIY project that can be done in an hour or two. But if you are intimidated by the idea of working on your car, or do not have the necessary tools, you can just bring this kit with you next time you are swapping/rotating tires at the shop.
- A good floor jack, EVs are heavy
- A torque wrench, to reinstall your wheels at 129 lb. ft
- A 21 mm Nut Socket
- Wheel Chocks to prevent rolling
- Jacking pucks, because Tesla’s jacking points are unprotected (why Elon?!)
Also, don’t forget to engage the parking brake in the Safety menu.
What are the downsides?
Applying the covers increases the maintenance work required to service the brakes. I have not had my annual service yet, but I am prepared for the possibility that the technicians may charge for more labor time. Each front cover is mounted by three pairs of nuts and bolts, and two pairs for the rear covers. These are fastened by tiny allen keys that I store in my glovebox.
The overall installation and fit is tight, and it required 5-10 minutes of fiddling with the nuts/bolts to have the covers sit properly. I have checked the installation after driving 2,500 miles with covers installed and they are still solid. However, it does create an additional failure point and I’d hate to think what happens if the covers become loose.
Would I recommend this to other Tesla owners?
Yes, this is an inexpensive decorative upgrade that helps your Tesla stand out of the crowd a little bit. The product I ordered was from EVACA, and that kit was fairly priced and came with quality painted parts. This kit fits both 19-inch Gemini wheels and 20-inch Induction wheels. However, fitment with other aftermarket wheels is not guaranteed.
Be warned though that installing caliper covers may require more effort to service your brakes. Also worth noting that the red finish of the cover does not exactly match the multicoat red finish from Tesla, but it’s close.