You don’t ever want to see any of the lights lit up on your car’s dashboard. All of them usually indicate some kind of problem that’s going on with your car. But the brake warning light is one of the last lights that you want to see. It usually indicates a somewhat serious issue with your car’s brake system—and it should not be ignored!
If your car’s brake warning light just turned on, you might be wondering what in the world it means. You might also be wondering what you can do to get it to turn off. We’re going to discuss both of these things today so that you know what to do when you see your brake warning light come on.
Continue reading to learn more about what the brake warning light in your car might mean and what you can do to get it to shut off. It’ll help you avoid driving around in a car that could potentially put you and others at risk.
What Does the Brake Warning Light Look Like?
If you’ve never experienced the brake warning light coming on in your car, you might not even recognize it when it first lights up. Unlike some of the other lights that will appear on your dashboard, it’s not going to be super obvious as to what it is when it makes its initial appearance.
The brake warning light usually takes the form of an illuminated circle with an exclamation point in the middle of it. More often than not, your car’s brake warning light will be red. But there are some instances in which it’ll be yellow, especially when it’s letting you know that your brake fluid level has dropped and needs to be addressed.
There are also some other lights that might appear on your dashboard when there is a problem with your braking system. For example, there is an “ABS” light that will pop up when there is something going on with your anti-lock braking. But generally speaking, it’s going to be the regular brake warning light that will light up when there is an issue with your car’s brakes.
What Does the Brake Warning Light Mean?
Now that you know what the brake warning light looks like, you’re probably wondering, “OK, but what does it mean?” It’s a good question! But unfortunately, it’s not always a question that’s easy to answer. Because in reality, your car’s brake warning light could mean any number of things when you see it light up.
There are so many different parts located within your car’s brake system. Some of these parts include:
- Brake pads
- Brake rotors
- Brake calipers
- Brake lines
- Brake pedal
And the slightest issues with any one of them could result in your brake warning light coming on! It can make it difficult for you to diagnose exactly what the brake warning light when it makes an appearance.
But with that being said, there are some common reasons why your car’s brake warning light might turn on. Let’s explore them below.
1. Your Parking Brake Is On or Not Working Properly
Depending on what kind of car you have, your parking brake might have its own light on your dashboard. When you have your parking brake on, a red circle with a prominent “P” in the middle of it might appear. It’ll let you know that you should turn your parking brake on before attempting to drive your car.
In some cars, though, your main brake warning light is going to light up when you have your parking brake on. It’s also going to light up when there is something wrong with your parking brake. And you’re going to want to make sure that you’re able to get this light to shut off prior to driving your car.
If you drive around with your brake warning light on because of your parking brake, you’re going to wear your parking brake down before long and cause serious complications with it. You’re going to need to get your parking brake to disengage so that your brake warning light shuts off before doing anything else.
You should never, ever, ever drive in a car with the parking brake on or malfunctioning! It’s going to affect your ability to drive and result in unnecessary damage being done to your car.
2. You Don’t Have Enough Brake Fluid in Your Car
Your brake fluid plays a very important role within the context of your brake system. It’s responsible for creating the pressure that is needed to activate your brakes. If you’re running low on brake fluid or, worse, if you have a brake fluid leak, you can bet your bottom dollar that your brake warning light is going to turn on sooner or later.
If you suspect that your brake warning light may be on because of a lack of brake fluid in your car, you should pop your hood and look at your brake fluid reservoir. It’s very easy to see exactly how much brake fluid you have at any given moment.
You don’t want to be opening your brake fluid reservoir all the time to add more fluid to it. It’s designed to be opened as little as possible so that you don’t introduce any contaminants into your system. But you should open it and add some brake fluid to it if you’re low on it. If you don’t, it could cause damage to your brake system and make it hard for you to bring your car to a complete stop.
3. Your Brake Pads Are Worn Out
When you push down on your car’s brake pedal, your brake pads do a lot of the heavy lifting as far as slowing your car down for you. They come into contact with your brake rotors to create the necessary friction to bring your car to a stop.
Your brake pads aren’t going to last forever, though, and when they begin to get too worn down, you’re usually going to see your brake warning light come on. You’re also going to notice other signs that’ll let you know that your brake pads are on their last legs. These signs include:
- Your brake pads will cause a loud squealing or screeching sound when you step on your brake pedal
- Your brake pads will start to produce a grinding sound when they’re almost completely shot
- Your brake pads will be less than a quarter of an inch thick
You do not want to get caught driving around in a car with brake pads that are on their last legs. You shouldn’t ever turn a blind eye to your brake warning light if it might be an indication that your brake pads are shot.
4. Your Brake Rotors Need to Be Replaced
As we just mentioned a moment ago, your brake pads work in tandem with your brake rotors when it comes to slowing your car down and bringing it to a stop. Your brake rotors are the big, round discs that you can see from the outside of your car’s wheels.
Your brake rotors will usually last longer than your brake pads will in most cases. But they’re also going to begin to give out on you eventually. And when they do, you might see the brake warning light in your car come on to advise you about it. You might also notice:
- Your car’s brakes make loud squealing sounds
- Your steering wheel vibrating when you step on the brake pedal
- Your brake rotors turning blue and cracking
When your car’s brake rotors begin to go bad, it’ll be as dangerous as when your car’s brake pads begin to go bad. Even if you don’t see your brake warning light go on right away, it’ll only be a matter of time before they do. So it’ll be important for you to spring into action and have your brake rotors replaced as soon as you can.
5. Your Brake Light Bulb Is Burned Out
Most cars these days have more than one bulb used for the brake light. If one of these bulbs goes bad on you and burns out, your car’s main computer will sense it and turn your brake warning light on.
This is actually a best-case scenario for you since replacing a bulb in your brake light is going to be way easier and a lot less expensive than replacing any of the other parts that we’ve talked about here. But even still, you’re going to need to do it fast since you shouldn’t spend too much time driving with the brake warning light on in your car.
Is It Safe to Drive With the Brake Warning Light On?
If you have a yellow brake warning light on in your car, you might be able to continue driving it for the time being. You should check your brake fluid level before you do to make sure you have some brake fluid in your car. You should also make it a point to add brake fluid to your car. But you should be able to drive your car without putting yourself or your car into harm’s way.
If, however, you have a red brake warning light on in your car, you should not continue to drive it under any circumstances. This type of brake warning light will indicate a serious problem with your brake system that will need to be addressed ASAP. If you drive it, you could put yourself, your car, and even others at risk.
How Can You Shut the Brake Warning Light Off?
It’s difficult for us to sit here and tell you exactly how to shut your car’s brake warning light off without knowing what’s causing it. But we can give you some ideas as far as how to get it to go off. To do it, you can:
- Check your brake fluid level and add brake fluid to your car if your reservoir is low
- Try turning your parking brake on and off to see if that does the trick
- Speak with a mechanic about whether or not you might need to replace your brake pads and/or brake rotors
Whatever you do, you shouldn’t just sit back and stare at your brake warning light without doing anything about it. You’ll be asking for trouble if you do.
How Much Does It Cost to Turn the Brake Warning Light Off?
If turning the brake warning light off in your car is as simple as turning your parking brake off or even adding some brake fluid to it, it’s not going to break the bank. You can do these kinds of things without worrying about spending too much money on them.
But some of the other potential issues that you might be having with your car’s brake system could cost you a pretty penny. Here are the costs that could come along with turning your brake warning light off:
Some of these prices might scare you off and make you want to turn a blind eye to your brake warning light. But you could actually increase the costs associated with turning your brake warning light if you wait to make auto repairs.
Is It Possible to Sell a Car With the Brake Warning Light On?
Do you have an old car that’s really not worth fixing? If so, you might wonder about what to do next when your brake warning light turns on.
If turning your brake warning light off is as easy as putting more brake fluid into it, selling it shouldn’t even cross your mind. But if you’re going to have to replace something like brake pads or brake rotors, that’s a different story. You should definitely think about selling your car in this case.
Cash Cars Buyer would be happy to make you an offer for your car in spite of your brake warning light being on. Just let us know some basic information about your car and we’ll put an offer together for you right away. You can then decide whether or not you want to accept our offer and arrange for us to pick your car up if you’re still interested in selling it.
Contact us today to discover how easy it can be to part ways with a car that has its brake warning light turned on!