Why Are My Brake Lights Staying On When Car is Off?

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As you may know, the brake lights on indicate that we are slowing down our vehicle on the road. But sometimes brake lights go wrong and can cause real damage to you and your vehicle. In this situation, you need to know why are my brake lights staying on to minimize risky driving.

Brake lights or taillights on a car should always work well. It’s to keep things safer when you’re enjoying those long journeys. Vehicles behind your car always notice your brake lights while driving. Brake lights use a switch to indicate whether the lights are on or off.

The brake pedal is attached to the brake light switch. Close the gears when you step on the brakes, these brake lights are imminent. Sometimes the brake lights won’t turn off due to a circuit failure or other reasons.

There are several reasons brake lights stay on when the car is off. Unfortunately, the solutions range from DIY work to repair work.

To help you rule things out before scheduling a repair appointment, we’ve got the possible reasons your brake light is staying on and what you can do to fix it.

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If all parts of your braking system are working properly, your brake light should go out as soon as you release the parking brake. You should never attempt to drive with the handbrake on as this can severely damage the brake system, but we don’t need to tell you that.

If you release the parking brake and the brake light on the dash stays on, one of the following problems may be causing it:

– The Brake Switch is Not Working

The brake lights will not turn off if the switch is stuck or not working properly. You may need to adjust or replace the brake switch to fix the problem. If the brake lights stay on for too long, the car’s battery will start to drain.

Professionals recommend disconnecting the car battery when faced with this problem. Be sure to save battery power to start the car until the problem is resolved.

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According to car experts, the brake switch sticking is the most common reason why the lights stay on. You can replace the brake pedal switch to identify the problem.

– Brake Fluid Low

A sensor placed on the master cylinder can determine the fluid level in the system. If the fill level is not complete, the sensor activates the brake light. Maintaining a proper level of brake fluid is essential for your brake lights to work properly.

Brake fluid is commonly found under the hood, the plastic brake fluid reservoir is designed to help you see the fluid level in the system without removing the cap. This prevents moisture or dust from entering the system and contaminating the fluid.

– Issue With ABS

Most modern vehicles have anti-lock braking systems that prevent the wheels from locking or the tires from losing traction on slippery roads. Depending on the vehicle, the dash light for this may be a separate ABS light, but it could also be the same as the general brake warning light.

An electrical malfunction or problem with the wheel speed sensor would cause a problem with the anti-lock braking system and display a general braking light warning.

– Brake Pedal Stuck

A stuck brake pedal can be another reason for your brake lights to stay on. The brake lights will not turn off if the brake pedal does not properly close the switch. The lights stay on until the connection between the switch and the pedal is activated.

The rubber stopper also has a lot to do with this process. It helps to properly adjust the brake pedal. Dirt or corrosion between the switch and the pedal can also affect the process. It would be great to turn to the experts to solve the problem in no time.

– Faulty Sensors

There are sensors in the ABS that monitor wheel speed and help the system work efficiently. This issue can cause the ABS light to stay on instead of just the standard brake light.

How to Fix Stuck Brake Lights on?

As you can see, there are several reasons why your brake light stays on the dash. If you know your brake light is fully engaged, one of the above issues is likely to blame.

Once you know why the brake light is on, you can fix the problem and the light should go out. Let’s take a look at solutions for a brake light that won’t go off.

1. Add Brake Fluid

A low brake fluid level can cause the brake light to stay on in the instrument cluster when the engine is started. If the braking readings are low, it could be due to a leak in a system.

To check this, first, locate the master cylinder. It’s usually made of white or yellow plastic and is located on the driver’s side. Then check the fluid level.

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There should be minimum and maximum markings on the side of the container to indicate the optimum liquid range. If you find that the brake fluid is low, add new brake fluid to the reservoir. However, you must flush the brake fluid before adding new fluid.

2. Handle Check

The brake light may stay on if you haven’t fully lowered the handle. So you should lower the handle to completely release the brake.

As such, it may be a good idea to inspect the handle before fully considering repair costs. There may be a chance that there is a handling fault.

3. Get the ABS Repaired

If your ABS light is on and you are having trouble identifying the problem yourself, you should seek professional help. A mechanic can run diagnostic tests to find out if the wheel sensors are working or if there is some other electrical fault in the system.

You should not ignore your ABS warnings as this is the system that prevents your car from skidding as it prevents the wheels from locking.

4. Check Brake Switch

The brake pedal or brake lever, depending on which one you have, is almost certainly equipped with a switch that interacts with the pedal or lever to send a signal when the brake is applied.

The light may still illuminate depending on whether the contacts or terminals on these switches are misaligned, cracked, or blocked. To find the switch and make sure it’s in good condition, you may need to remove the footrest or center console.

5. Repair Brake Circuit Wiring

Due to a short in the wiring, the brake lights could refuse to turn off. Basically, this means that the circuit is closed even though the switch is open.

Check the flexible wire harness connected to the brake light switch. Any signs of damage, like rodent bite marks or burnt plastic patches, are a big concern.

Top FAQs About Brakes Lights Stay On When Car is Off

What would cause brake lights to stay on?

Common reasons for the brake lights staying on include circuit failure, problems with the brake assembly, or low brake fluid. For whatever reason and when your car’s brake lights won’t go out, it can be quite frustrating.

You must know how to diagnose and solve the problem in order to drive safely. And never ignore the brake warning light, if it stays on it’s important to find the cause as soon as possible.

Where is the brake light switch located on a car?

When you press the pedal, the axle presses the switch, which turns on the brake lights. If you are not sure where to find the brake pedal switch, consult the service manual for your specific vehicle. The switch has a flexible cable that comes out and mounts just behind the brake pedal.

Is it OK to drive with the brake light on?

 It is possible to drive with the brake lights on, but it is not recommended. Ignoring a problem with your car’s braking system is reckless.

And could result in you being involved in an accident or causing costly damage that could have been prevented. If you notice your brake light is on, try to identify and fix the problem as soon as possible.

How do I know if my brake lights are working?

If you turn on the vehicle ignition before starting the engine, all the dash lights should come on for a few seconds. This is to help you check that all warning lights are operational before you start your trip. If some don’t light up, that means there’s probably a problem.

What does it mean when my brake lights stay on?

This light serves as a parking brake warning light. It is a light that indicates that the parking or emergency brake has been applied and must be released before proceeding.

If it stays on after the parking brake is released, or opens and closes intermittently while driving, brake fluid should be applied.

Is it expensive to fix brake lights?

Replacing a brake light bulb is very cheap, with a replacement bulb typically costing around $5-$10. On top of that, labor costs can range from $10-$20 depending on your location. However, please note that bulb prices may be higher for some depending on the design.

Final Thought

If your car’s brake lights won’t turn off, then the most likely reason is a stuck or defective switch. Depending on the answer, you need to adjust or change the switch.

Ignoring the problem will only lead to worse problems in the future. If you keep piling on necessary repairs, you’ll only increase your costs in the long run.

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