What does it mean if your brake warning light is on?
Typically, your brake system warning light being on means your parking brake is engaged, but if you're still seeing the red (or orange) warning on your dash while the parking brake is disengaged, you will need to get your brakes inspected as soon as possible.
Since your brake warning light can mean various different things, it's best to have a brake expert take a look to confirm the real issue before other warning signs appear.
Below are a few reasons you will see a brake warning light appear on your dash.
What are the Common Brake Warning Light Problems?
My Brake Service Warning Light Is Always On
If you get into your vehicle and see that your brake service warning light is illuminating from the dash, first check to see if your parking brake is engaged.
This is the handle near your center console on the driver's side in smaller passenger cars.
On larger SUVs and trucks, you'll typically find the parking brake on the far left side of the driver's side floorboard. If you fail to disengage your parking brake before moving your vehicle, you risk damaging your brake pads and system faster - ultimately leading to unnecessary expenses.
If you find that the parking brake is disengaged and the light remains on, there could be a few issues:
Your parking brake lever/pedal needs to be adjusted.
Your brake pads are worn down and need to be replaced.
Your hydraulics are amiss and likely losing pressure/fluid
If your parking brake needs adjusting, it's a relatively simple fix and nothing too serious.
It also shouldn't impede your driving safety. If your brake pads are ready to be replaced, you'll want to do it sooner than later, as waiting can cause your brake pads to wear down completely and begin damaging your rotors, which can double your repair costs.
And lastly, if your brake system is losing pressure, it's just a matter of time before you lose all ability to stop, endangering yourself and those driving around you.
My Brake Service Warning Light Turns On When I Hit The Pedal
If your brake service light comes on when you press the brake pedal, you're probably experiencing hydraulic loss on one side of your vehicle, or your brake fluid is extremely low in the master cylinder.
Your master cylinder is where all of your brake fluid sits and helps send brake fluid to your brake components when you press and release the brake pedal. If the fluid is low, you can lose all ability to stop, which can be dangerous for both you and others around you while your vehicle is in motion.
The Antilock Braking System light is on
The other brake warning light you may see is your Antilock Braking System (ABS) light. If you see the ABS light when you turn on your vehicle, you need to have your brake system inspected as soon as possible.
Your vehicle's ABS system is designed to reduce skidding by ensuring that your brakes don't lock up while trying to come to a stop. While you can still operate your vehicle with an ABS warning light on, it's best to get it to a repair shop sooner than later.
Typically, this requires a trip to the dealer, as they have the necessary equipment to handle ABS issues, like replacing the ABS speed sensor.
Typical Brake Service Warning Light Repairs
While the brake service warning light can mean a few different things, the typical repair revolves around your brake fluid. From brake fluid leaks to a master cylinder replacement, if you're experiencing brake service warning light issues, you'll want to speak with a brake mechanic about checking for leaks and master cylinder issues. A typical master cylinder repair cost is between $300 and $500, depending on your vehicle and part costs.
Is It Safe To Drive When The Brake Warning Light Comes On?
If your brake warning light comes on, try to drive your vehicle as little as possible, as continuing to drive on a faulty brake system before a diagnosis can lead to further expenses or even brake failure.
Once the light turns on and you can confirm your parking brake isn't engaged, contact a brake specialist as soon as possible.
How can I deal with Brake warning Issues if I can't drive the car to the repair shop?
If you're having brake problems and need help diagnosing the brake issues, let a mobile brake repair service come out and look at your brake needs. Our mobile brake techs at NuBrakes are experienced and certified to handle all brake repairs on nearly every make and model.