Brake warning light on dashboard?
Problems with the brakes are hard to miss because they are accompanied by different sounds and warning lights on the dashboard. Brake problems cause different warning lights. It is good to understand the differences in these lights. This way, you don't drive on if you absolutely cannot. After reading this article, you will know the main causes of these lights.
Brake system warning lights
The type and number of brake warning lights may vary from one car model to another. However, most modern vehicles have three warning lights for the brake system:
- Illuminates when the parking brake is engaged and the car is started. Does the warning light stay on? This may be due to insufficient brake fluid or a malfunction in the brake system.
- Sometimes it says ABS or ESP in this light. This indicates a malfunction in these systems or that the brake pads are worn.
- When this light is on, the electric parking brake is on.
Why does the brake warning light come on?
There are a number of reasons why these lights may come on. Some are easy to fix, while others need to be repaired by a mechanic. Some common causes are:
Handbrake light stays on
Some cars have a separate light for the parking brake. It is a red or yellow circle with a 'P' in the middle surrounded by brackets on either side. The light comes on when the parking brake is on and you forget to take it off and drive off.
When you release the parking brake lever, the light goes out. If not, the lever may be broken or the parking brake itself may not be working properly.
Low or leaking brake fluid
Low brake fluid is the reason for several brake problems indicated by a red circle with an exclamation mark '!'. enclosed in parentheses. The brake fluid reservoir is a transparent tank under the hood. It has labels 'MAX' and 'MIN' inside, so you can easily see if there is enough or too much brake fluid in it. If the level is close to or below the 'MIN' label, refill the tank with a brake fluid listed in the owner's manual. Try to match the fluid type and if you cannot, replace it with a fluid with a higher number. For example, you can refill with DOT 4 fluid if your car uses DOT 3.
On the other hand, if you see a low fluid level in the tank and you have slightly worn brake pads, there may be a fluid leak. In that case, you should check the brake lines, the fluid reservoir and all the associated valves and connections to find the trace of amber fluid. A leak requires urgent attention and you should take the vehicle to a mechanic to fix the problem.
Worn brake pads
Damaged, broken or worn brake pads are other reasons why the brake warning light comes on. Scuffing and squeaking noises are another indicator of worn brake pads.
In this case, you should replace the brake pads for a new set. Without a lining, the pads will have metal-to-metal contact which causes the scraping sound. It is downright dangerous to continue driving with worn brake pads, because some parts of the braking system, such as the discs, may fail or even break.
Replace the brake pads on time, this will prevent expensive repairs. Don't forget to examine the brake discs and the sensors. You can shave the discs in case of minor wear or replace them if they are completely damaged. Sometimes the warning light does not go off after replacement, in which case the system may have bad sensors.
Defective brake lights
The brake light has different bulbs. If one of these burns out, the warning light comes on because the computer detects the resistance change in a circuit. Replacing the bad bulbs solves this problem, but remember to use the right type. If they are ordinary bulbs and you want to replace them with LEDs, hire a mechanic to do the work.
Driving on with the dashboard lights on?
The clear answer is 'No'. A warning light indicates a problem in the braking system that is too dangerous to ignore. Think of a situation where you need to stop the car but can't because the brakes refuse. It is dangerous for yourself and other road users. Go to a garage if a warning light stays on. Ignoring the problem will only make it worse and possibly damage other parts.