ROHNERT PARK  — If you own a Toyota Prius, make sure you’re taking advantage of all the features it provides. One beneficial feature is regenerative braking, an automotive innovation found in most modern hybrid and electric vehicles. To utilize this feature in your Prius, simply put your gear shifter into “B” mode.

When in “B” mode, you’ll notice that you don’t have to apply the brake pedal as much. That’s because your car is now set to automatically slow down each time you let off the gas. This reduces the amount of wear and tear on your brake pads, especially in stop-and-go traffic.

The other benefit of regenerative braking is that each time you let off the gas, it actually charges your Prius’ battery. How? As a car slows down, kinetic energy is created. Regenerative braking captures this energy and repurposes it to charge or “regenerate” the battery. Interestingly enough, this energy-efficient process has little to do with the brakes themselves—it actually takes place within the car’s transmission.

As previously mentioned, “B” mode is the most beneficial in situations like stop-and-go traffic, but another good time to use this feature is when driving downhill. When you take your foot off the gas, you’ll feel the vehicle start to slow. Depending on the steepness of the hill, you may still have to apply the brake, but not nearly as much as you would otherwise. Plus, you’ll get the benefit of charging your battery.