Car Repair: What to Do When Your Brake Warning Light Comes On

Posted on 12/19/2016 in General


The dash panel of cars are loaded with gauges and lights. It can be confusing to know the best move to make when a light unexpectedly comes on. For many people, the brake light can be one of the least understood. Warning lights for check engine, oil, battery, and door ajar have been around longer than the brake warning light. The brake light may be a relative newcomer to the array, but this does not mean it should ever be ignored. In fact, this check light can tell you if you need to pick up car spares to eventually fix your car.


When the brake light is lit, it usually signifies a quick fix and a longer fix are needed.


The main reasons that the brake light shines is to tell you that you are low on brake fluid, or you are driving with the emergency brake engaged. If it is the latter, just disengage your emergency or parking brake and the light should go out. If not, the sensor in your brake fluid reservoir has detected that the fluid is low enough that you could have a hydraulic failure in your braking system. The last thing you want to have happen is to get an air bubble trapped in your brake line. Air can cause your brake pedal to go to the floor and not stop your car.


You need to have brake fluid added to your reservoir under you car’s hood.


Since it is always a good idea to carry along spare brake fluid, stop as soon as it makes sense to do so and fill up the reservoir. This is a simple process. Locate the cap near the firewall of your vehicle that is marked as brakes or brake fluid. This cap is normally high up on the firewall on the far left or far right side of the car. So, it is easily accessible. Remove the cap and pour brake fluid in until it is full. Replace the cap, and you should be ready to go.


Find out why your brake fluid is low.


As brakes wear, your wheel cylinders and brake calipers expand to keep your brake shoes or brake pads in position to stop your car. This expansion creates more room inside the devices. This space fills with brake fluid and the level of fluid in your reservoir will drop. If it is just this normal process, you can add the fluid and be finished.


Use this as an opportunity to look closer.


Rather than just fill the reservoir and forget about it, try to determine whether anything else may be going on. Check your maintenance records to see how many miles you have logged on the vehicle since the last brake replacement. If you have traveled more than 30,000 miles, you may want to have your brakes inspected during your next oil change. Most garages will either do this for free or a nominal charge.


Look for new spots on your driveway.


Check your driveway for oily spots near where your tires rest when you park your car for the night. You could have calipers or wheel cylinders that are leaking. If this is the case, you should have them check and repaired or replaced soon. Watch for any oily spot that you cannot easily identify. You could have a brake line leaking if these spots are under your car and not very close where a tire rests when the car is parked. Have your car checked immediately if this type of spot is located. A leaky brake line is an accident looking for a place to happen.

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