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Hey, Why Is My Car's Brake Light On?

If you are short on time and want to fast-track the process to professional help, click Yes

Four common causes for a “brake” light on the vehicle and their related parts.
Is your vehicle's brake light dashboard warning acting odd? A brake warning light on your dash means the vehicle's computer system detected a failure. The symptoms you experience might be a spongy brake pedal pulsation or steering wheel vibrations when braking. Also, lengthier stopping distances or other stop-related symptoms will get your attention. Brake issues are critically dangerous for your safety and the safety of other drivers.

Is Your Car's Brake Warning Light On?

If the brake light is constantly on the dashboard, the brake sensor might be faulty. But, if the vehicle is driving weirdly (pulling to one side), then the brake is actually applied, and this might be a caliper issue. Alternatively, it might be a power steering leak or a master cylinder issue....read more

If the brake light is constantly on the dashboard, the brake sensor might be faulty. But, if the vehicle is driving weirdly (pulling to one side), then the brake is actually applied, and this might be a caliper issue. Alternatively, it might be a power steering leak or a master cylinder issue.

Stay alert if your car's dashboard begins to pop the brake system warning light. Your vehicle might be under progressive damage and can end up requiring hefty repairs in the future. Note that this notification pops up when you activate the parking brake; this doesn't mean there's an issue.

So please, keep track of your car's odd symptoms and browse through our articles to find out the information you'll need to share with your go-to auto shop.

Let's Get To The Bottom Of It!

  • Q: Do you suspect that your brake pads are worn out?
    If someone points out that your brake pads are worn, note that. First, you can check your car's b...read more

    If someone points out that your brake pads are worn, note that. First, you can check your car's brake condition by opening the hood and looking at the brake fluid level; if it's low, you need to find out why. Also, if your vehicle's brakes feel weaker, its stopping distance should be noticeably longer. Notice these symptoms and consider taking your car to an auto shop.

  • Q: Does your hydraulic brake booster assist feel odd?
    Modern vehicles commonly use hydraulic brake boosters to stop quickly and easily; they assist dri...read more

    Modern vehicles commonly use hydraulic brake boosters to stop quickly and easily; they assist drivers when braking. In these vehicles, any loss on the power steering assist results in a brake assist loss. The symptoms that follow in these cases are hums or buzzes when stepping on the brake pedal. In addition, the brake pedal might feel pretty hard to press, and the car's stopping distance increases.

  • Q: Does your vehicle pull to one side when you press the brakes?
    If your car pulls to one side after you apply the brakes, get it to an auto shop quickly. This sy...read more

    If your car pulls to one side after you apply the brakes, get it to an auto shop quickly. This symptom is severe and might also follow up with a smell of burning coming from the wheels. Sometimes, a wheel might skid or slide when running on wet, gravel, or loose surfaces.

  • Q: Does a hissing noise come from around your feet when you press the brakes?
    If a hissing noise comes from your footwell area under the steering column whenever you press the...read more

    If a hissing noise comes from your footwell area under the steering column whenever you press the brakes, note it to share with your service advisor later. In addition, you can make a test of your own: turn the engine off, press the brakes a few times until it gets hard, then start the engine and see if the brake pedal drops away quickly. But, again, these symptoms point towards a brake booster, and you need to share them with a mechanic.

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Vehicle Health Inspection Proof

Explore the following typical inspection results that show a potential cause for the symptom and select the one you believe is similar to your vehicle's issue.

Worn brake pad sensor

This case image shows a brake pad sensor contacting the rotor. This friction results in a warning light or message on the dashboard, notifying the driver to replace the brake pads.

The customer's concern when dropping this vehicle off was the brake warning on the dash. They also suspected the instrument cluster and mentioned that the outer brake pads were thin.

During a vehicle health inspection, the mechanic checked the brake linings after a test drive; just glancing at the wheels, the mechanic knew the linings were worn out.

The technician recommended a complete brake evaluation, which the customer consented to. This process is vital to ensure the vehicle's entire brake system is treated as one to receive repairs and replacement parts.

In this case, the brake pad sensor picked up on the worn-out brake linings and notified the driver that it was time to evaluate the brake system.

Does the issue look like this? if not accessible your shop will document it
Bypassing master cylinder

This case image shows a master cylinder. The red arrows point to leak areas; notice the fluid trail underneath the cylinder.

A customer brought this vehicle into the shop complaining that it displayed a brake warning light on the dashboard. They also complained that the brake pedal felt a bit loose and sank slowly to the floor during traffic stops. In addition, they mentioned that they checked the brake fluid level, and it seemed fine.

Before performing a test drive, the mechanic checked to see the loose brake, which they confirmed would sink to the floor and stop with slight pressure. Then, instead of doing a test drive, they determined that a vehicle health inspection first would be safer.

During the inspection, the mechanic checked the car's underhood and spotted brake fluid stains between the master cylinder and the power brake booster. So, they recommended additional testing, which the client consented to.

Then, the mechanic began a complete brake system evaluation, discovering that the master cylinder was incorrectly bypassing internally, causing the warnings. Therefore, they must replace this and flush the brake system's fluid.

Does the issue look like this? if not accessible your shop will document it
Power steering hose leak

The red arrows in this case image point to a leak in the power steering hose between the pressure and return hose. The leak is affecting the power brake assist.

A customer brought this car into the shop because it displayed a brake warning light on its dashboard. Additionally, they mentioned that the brake pedal felt hard to push, and a buzzing noise came from underhood, occurring when they turned the steering wheel.

During a vehicle health inspection, the mechanic noticed that the power steering fluid was low and the brake fluid was fine. So the technician recommended a dye test to check for leak points in the car's underhood.

The dye testing revealed that the power steering hose had various leak points and needed replacement. In addition, a power steering system fluid exchange is crucial.

Does the issue look like this? if not accessible your shop will document it
Caliper binding

This case image shows a tire-absent wheel. The red arrow points to a sticking caliper, causing friction and overheating the brakes.

A customer came into the shop complaining that their vehicle was randomly flashing the brake warning light. They added that the car was slightly pulling to one side when braking, which would be more noticeable when braking at higher speeds.

The mechanic did a test drive, confirming the customer's symptoms. Additionally, they noticed an overheated brake smell coming from the pulling side. Then, they did a vehicle health inspection, discovering that one of the calipers was terrible and wouldn't release properly.

The technician recommended replacing the caliper and additional checking of the brake system to restore it to an optimal state.

Does the issue look like this? if not accessible your shop will document it
Faulty booster

The case image shows a brake booster. The red arrows point to a leaking area where the vacuum hissing noise was coming.

A customer brought their vehicle into the shop because it displayed a brake warning light on the dash. Additionally, they also noticed hissing noises coming from the driver's feet area. They've also noticed the brake pedal being hard to press sometimes.

During a vehicle health inspection, the mechanic found that the hissing noise was coming from a faulty brake booster. Still, they recommended additional tests to ensure that no other parts from the brake system were compromised.

Finally, they need to replace the brake booster.

Does the issue look like this? if not accessible your shop will document it
The brake fluid reservoir showa low brake fluid level, which can cause brake issues resulting in vibrations, noises, and warning lights

This case image shows the brake fluid reservoir at low levels. In addition, the fluid is dark, indicating contamination. Therefore, the mechanic needs to flush it.

A customer came into the shop complaining about a red brake warning light popping on their vehicle's dashboard. Additionally, they've said that, after checking the brake fluid level, it was low. The car was also slightly vibrating when braking at high speeds.

First, the mechanic did a vehicle health inspection and confirmed the car's low brake fluid level. Then, when inspecting the brakes individually, they recommended additional testing.

The client consented to additional testing, and the mechanic began a complete evaluation of the brakes. They removed all the wheels, determined the caliper movement and the brake lining thickness, and tested for fluid leaks.

In this case, worn-out brake pads were causing the brake fluid loss. Therefore, they'll need replacement.

Does the issue look like this? if not accessible your shop will document it

Typical Makes

That need Brake Light significantly more often than average vehicle makes

  • Make:

    Chevrolet

  • Model:

    Avalanche, Blazer, Camaro, Cobalt, Colorado, Cruze, Equinox, Impala, Malibu

  • Brake Pads

Is this the make you are driving?
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Typical Fixes to Address the Cause(s)

The following chapters bases themselves on experiences from our auto repair shop; we'll describe related problems' causes and fixes.

"Brake Pad Replacement" fixes "Low brake fluid"

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Hey, Why Is My Car's Brake Light On?
Sometimes a problem is more challenging to describe than it initially looked like. If you are not sure your problem is described by this article, please find below similar vehicle symptoms, which might describe better the issue you are experiencing.

Other things your auto repair shop might talk about:

anti-lock brake system, braking system, rear brake lights, emergency brake, brake lines, dashboard light, hydraulic system, free brake inspection, abs warning light