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Brake Lights: 6 Reasons Why Your Brake Light is On

Brake warning lights can show up on the dashboard when there is a fault in the braking system. Here are the six most common reasons why you have a brake warning light on:

  • Your Parking Brake is Active

    This is the most typical cause of your brake light becoming illuminated on your dashboard. The parking brake sensor will activate the brake warning light if the parking brake is still engaged. This occurs when the vehicle parking brake is not entirely disengaged, and the answer is to disengage it.

    If you drive with an active parking brake, you will warm your brakes and increase brake shoes and brake pad degradation. The increased temperatures can also cause brake fluid degradation and reduce the braking system's effectiveness.

  • Worn Out Brake Pads

    Worn brake pads cause the brake sensor wire to touch the rotor and cause the brake light (or brake pad warning light) to illuminate.

    Worn brake pads can also cause a reduction in brake fluid level as the caliper pistons need to stretch further to contact the rotor, causing your brake warning light to illuminate.

  • Malfunction of the Anti-Lock Braking System

    An ABS brake warning light turns on if the antilock brake system (ABS) is malfunctioning. The malfunction can be anything from an electrical fault to a dirty wheel speed sensor. Make sure to have a professional mechanic look over your ABS codes to figure out what's wrong.

  • Sensor Failure

    Many sensors are linked to the brake system in your car such as the parking brake sensor, master cylinder, or ABS. Any failure of any of these sensors can cause your dashboard brake light to turn on.

  • Brake Fluid Levels Are Low

    The brake fluid level in the system is monitored by a sensor in the brake master cylinder. The sensor will turn on the brake light if the fluid level falls below the minimum threshold since it can signal a brake fluid leak.

  • Rear Brake Light Bulb Fault

    Some car computers monitor the rear brake tail light bulb, which could be a single bulb or an array of LED bulbs at the back of a car. If the tail light bulb burns out or dims, the brake warning light may illuminate to alert the driver that their rear brake lights are out to prevent rear-end incidents.

How Can You Check If The Brake Light Is Working?

Each dashboard light should illuminate for a few seconds after you turn on the vehicle ignition (but before you start the motor). You should make sure each caution light works properly before you begin your travel. If some lights don't light up, you may need to investigate that issue.

Brake Lights vs Brake Tail Lights

Brake lights are the lights that show up on the inside of your car when there is a fault in your braking system.

Brake tail lights are the lights on the back of the car that turns on when you press the brake pedal. This is naturally important for safe driving conditions because it provides specific notice to drivers behind you when your speed is likely to change.

Driving behind someone with defective or failing brake tail lights is both inconvenient and dangerous because the time it takes for you to adjust your car increases the chances of an accident.

The brake tail light illuminates only while the vehicle is braking, so it's important that brighter light is required. When braking, the thicker filament of the tail light bulb illuminates, producing more intensity than the thinner filament. This is why the illumination of the tail lamp doubles up when the brake is applied.

This twin filament bulb is used as a brake tail light in motorcycles and automobiles. Different filaments well be used depending on the manufacturer's car design.

How Brake Tail Lights Work

The brake pedal, striker, brake light switch, lights, fuses, and wiring all make up your brake system related to your brake tail lights. When you press the brake pedal, it connects with the brake light switch attached, allowing the brake tail lights to illuminate.

This switch informs your brake tail lights that the pedal has been depressed by the electrical components. When you take your foot off the brake pedal, the striker disengages the brake tail light switch, turning off the brake tail lights. Even though this is a simple description of how brake tail lights work, damage to the striker or brake light switch could cause brake tail light problems.

Can You Replace A Brake Light On Your Own?

Changing the brake tail light bulbs varies by vehicle, but the core procedure remains the same. Some SUVs and sedans have made changing brake lights easier by providing direct access from within the vehicle.

Why Is There A Third Brake Light?

The third brake light, often known as a safety brake lamp or a high-level brake light, alerts other drivers when you apply the brakes. This is useful for situations where other vehicles block the view of the left and right brake lights.

In some countries, red turn signals are allowed and can also cause other drivers to become confused. A third brake light helps drivers determine whether the vehicle in front of them is braking, especially while driving at night.

The third brake light may be fitted inside the vehicle's back glass, in the car's deck lid, or on the spare wheel carrier on some trucks.


Brake lights on your car dashboard tell you if there is something wrong with the braking system of your car. Depending on the light that is shown, you may need to consult a brake specialist to inspect your vehicle.

Whether you have a brake light on in your dashboard or your tail brake light bulb is out, NuBrakes has mobile auto technicians that come to your home or office to help with your brakes, oil, maintenance, and more. Contact us today for a free quote on brake light inspections and other services you may need.


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