If you are like most drivers, when a dashboard warning light suddenly illuminates, it may throw you into a panic.  Warning lights are designed to alert us to a potential or existing problem within one of the many vehicle systems.  Being informed on what they may mean, and how to address them is a way to alleviate some of your panic.  In this month’s blog post, we examine the brake system warning lights, what they may indicate, and how to address them if they illuminate on your dashboard.

Types of Brake Warning Lights

There are many different brake warning lights.  Not every vehicle is equipped with them, but there are universal warning lights for brakes that are in most of today’s vehicles.

These universal lights include the following:

  • Brake Light
  • Parking Brake Light
  • ABS Brake Light (if your vehicle has anti-lock brakes)

Let’s discuss each of these warnings and what they may indicate when illuminated.

Brake Light

A universal warning in most vehicles is the brake light.  This may not tell you much, except that there is something in the braking system that may need your attention.

The brake light may illuminate if you have your parking brake engaged.  This is the easiest warning to address by simply releasing the parking brake.  If that is the problem, the light should extinguish.

Another reason for the brake warning light may be the brake fluid.  If the fluid is low, it may trigger the brake warning.  Brake fluid is a vital hydraulic component of the braking system that ensures your braking mechanism works properly.  If it is low, there may be a leak within the brake line.  This should be addressed quickly by a service professional, as it could result in further damage, inoperative brakes, or even cause an accident.

Parking Brake Light

The parking brake light will illuminate when the brake is engaged.  While it will not prevent you from driving, you will immediately notice when trying to drive and the parking brake is still on.  Simply release the parking brake, and the light should extinguish.  If the light does not extinguish, even after turning the vehicle off and back on, then it may be a problem with the signal from the brake to the dashboard.  Have this checked out by a service professional.

Anti-lock Brake System (ABS) Light

Any vehicle that was manufactured from 2004 to the present, has ABS as a standard part of the braking system.  Anti-lock braking is a safety enhancement that prevents the wheels from locking up and causing a skid when the driver aggressively brakes.  ABS will pump the brakes to keep the wheels moving and is constantly sensing the wheel speed to know how much pressure to apply.  If the light illuminates on the dashboard, this indicates there may be a problem.  The problem may lie with one of the sensors, or the wiring.  Have the ABS checked out by a service professional if this light will not extinguish on your dashboard.

Warning lights are an important way to keep the driver informed of possible vehicle problems.  Regardless of the system, every driver should take them seriously and address the cause of the warning.  If you would like to have your braking system inspected, contact the service professionals at Campus Repair to schedule an inspection and/or repairs.