What to check when your brake warning light is on


The braking system is one of, if not the most, important parts of your car’s safety system. It is installed in the instrument cluster to remind drivers that their parking brake is engaged. This simple feature will refrain car owners from driving their vehicles with the parking brakes engaged to avoid damage to the braking system assembly and tires.

Unfortunately, a brake warning light sometimes stays on while driving even after disengaging the parking brake. You might think that it’s not much of a concern since you can tell whether the parking brake is engaged or not. The brake warning indicator can switch on for a number of reasons. We have listed the possible causes as to why brake warning lights won’t turn off.

Worn brake pads

One of the car components that face harsh operation conditions is the brake pad. A brake pad is responsible for slowing down your vehicle whether in slow or high-speed runs. Over time, these brake pads wear which means that you should have them replaced to get the desired braking power.

With a worn brake pad, the electronic sensor wires within your car’s braking system will trigger the brake warning light on your instrument cluster. You don’t have to wait for the screeching or high-pitched noise your car makes before concluding that your brake pads are already worn.

Low brake fluid

Inside the braking system, there is a sensor that determines the level of the brake fluid left in the master cylinder. Once the brake fluid level drops to a certain level in the master cylinder, it will flash the brake warning light on to tell you that you need to have it refilled.

On average, brake fluids last for around two years, or around 40,000 km. Brake fluids don’t last long as compared to other car components so running to a brake warning light staying on for a long time is a common occurrence.

Engaged parking brake

An engaged parking brake will automatically trigger the brake warning light on your car’s instrument cluster. This obviously means that you t need to disengage the parking brake before driving. Driving with an engaged parking brake will damage most of your car’s braking system components such as pads through overheating.

Most modern cars come with an alarm that tells you that your parking brake is still engaged when you are on the move even at low speeds. So if you drive a car without these alarms, then you better pay more attention to the position of your car’s parking brake.

Faulty ABS and sensors

An anti-lock braking system (ABS) is installed in most of today’s cars to prevent them from losing traction, especially on slippery roads. Within an ABS, there are speed sensors that determine the speed of the wheels. A dirty or malfunctioning speedy sensor can either illuminate the brake warning light or ABS light. To save costs from replacing your car’s speed sensors, you can have them clean which costs almost half as compared to a new one.

Defective brake light bulbs

Some vehicles can sense that the brake light bulbs located at their rear end are either defective or completely blown. If your rear-end brake light bulbs are getting faulty, you should have them replaced immediately as driving without proper lighting, especially at night can cause fatal accidents.

To make sure that your car has defective brake light bulbs, have someone stand at the rear end of your vehicle. If your car won’t light the brake light bulbs after stepping on the brake pedal, then it means that it’s time for a replacement. Remember to disengage the parking brakes first before doing this simple inspection.

Knowing the different causes can help you determine the fix you need to do to stop the brake warning lights from staying on while driving. For example, if your car is low on brake fluids, then have it refilled. If your car has worn-out brake pads, then have them replaced.

It is recommended that you do not drive your vehicle, and have it inspected by an auto electrical specialist as soon as possible, to diagnose and rectify the issue and make sure your vehicle is safe, both for your family and other motorists.

Mr. Mechanic can come to you for any vehicle repair, service, roadworthy certificate, and inspection needs. Call us for a free quote!

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