What Does It Mean When the Brake Light Comes on?
The brake light is mainly shown by a circle with an exclamation point, while in some manufacturers, you would see it blatantly spelling out the word “BRAKE”.
Back in the day, cars had only a single brake light. It would notify the driver of any problems related to the brake system.
Over time, the braking system was equipped with advanced techniques for informing drivers of particular issues. This is reflected in the multiple brake warning lights on the dashboard display. Each of them indicates a problem with a specific part of the system, as shown below:
Parking Brake Light
The parking brake, also known as the emergency brake or hand brake, is used for securing your vehicle when parked or stopped. When applied, the “P” symbol illuminates on the dash. However, this light soon goes off once the parking brake is released.
But, the parking brake light may sometimes remain on despite releasing the hand brake. This can occur either due to the partial release of the lever or some fault within the system.
Low Brake Fluid Level Light
The low brake fluid level light illuminates when your brake fluid level drops below the threshold. You should check the brake fluid level in the master cylinder and top it off.
Worn Brake Pad Light
The worn brake pad light illuminates when the brake pads get too worn and need replacement as soon as possible. In older models that don’t have this indicator, the low brake fluid level light may serve as a reminder that it’s time to replace the brake pads.
Is It Safe to Drive with the Brake Light on?
No. Once the light illuminates, it indicates an issue with your vehicle’s braking system. Ignoring this warning could decrease braking performance, which could be dangerous and increase the crash risk.
Therefore, always find a safe place to pull over and follow my guide below. You can also call your breakdown service for assistance.
Why Does the Brake Light Come On?
The brake light on your dashboard is a sign that your car’s brake system is going through a tough time. From benign to critical, it can illuminate because of several reasons. The most common ones include the following:
What to Do When the Brake Light Comes on?
Suppose you are almost halfway through your destination, but suddenly the brake light comes on. What are you supposed to do now?
First, try not to panic and instead pull over and follow these steps while keeping your head on your shoulders.
Step 1: Check the status of the parking brake
Even the slightest parking brake engagement can sometimes trigger the brake light to switch on. Thus, start pressing the release system to ensure the parking brake is fully disengaged before trying to restart the car.
If the problem persists, move on to the next step.
Step 2: Check the brake fluid level
The brake light usually comes on due to low fluid levels. Hence, before contacting a mechanic, check its level and refill it until it reaches between the maximum and minimum marks.
Try restarting the vehicle after this; if the light disappears, you are good to go!
Step 3: Using an OBD2 scanner to read the trouble codes
If the brake light stays on despite the parking brake disengagement and high fluid level, there might be another problem with your braking system. You can identify the cause of the problem by using an OBD2 scanner to read the codes stored in the car computer system. This pocket-sized device saves you time and money on car diagnosis and repair services.
In case you don’t know how to use the OBD2 scanner, check the 7-step guide.
To determine what the codes mean, search the DTC Look-up Library on the scanner or go to OBD2 Codes Lookup Tool. You will find the meaning, symptoms, causes, and how to fix the codes you have.
Step 4: Repair the broken and malfunctioning parts
Let a professional repair or replace the brake parts if you are unsure how to do it.
Step 5: Reset the brake light
Select the “Erase” function on the scanner.
After clearing the trouble codes, restart your car and drive for about 50-100 miles. Eventually, the SRS light is gone, and you solve the problem!
An illuminating brake light can occur because of several reasons. Most of the time, the cause is easy to identify and solve. However, other times the problem may be hard to discern and requires a scan tool to pinpoint the cause.
Is the guide easy to follow?
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