What Does Brake Lamp Bulb Fault Mean (Causes & Fixes)

Auto manufacturers equip several safety features in cars. One of these safety features is the brake light. When a driver steps on the brake pedal to slow down or stop his vehicle, the brake light at the back edges of the car will light up to notify other drivers that the vehicle in front is braking or stopping.

This alert will help the driver behind to either slow down or get out of the way. This will prevent or reduce the rates of road accidents.

If the brake lamp bulb goes bad and fails to illuminate the brake light when you depress the brake pedal, other drivers will hardly know when you’re slowing down or stopping. And it increases the rate of car collisions. But what exactly does a brake lamp bulb fault mean?

This article will explain the brake lamp bulb’s fault meaning, its causes, and how to resolve the leading causes.

what does brake lamp fault mean

What does brake lamp bulb fault mean?

The brake lamp bulb fault message will pop up on the dash whenever the system detects an underlying problem on the brakes that affects the brake bulbs at the back edges of the car. These warning messages appear whenever there’s an issue bridging power from traveling to the brake bulbs or while the brake light is flickering.

This warning message is not common with all cars and does not happen all the time. However, if you’re experiencing this issue, you’ll find the probable causes in the following sections and how to rectify them.

The warning message ‘ brake lamp bulb fault’ on Ford Kuga and other car models is just a heads up of what’s going on. This requires you to diagnose the brake lamp bulbs and proffer solutions to the culprit.

Generally, any braking problem that causes the brake light to stop lighting is called a “brake lamp bulb fault.” Of course, some vehicles will not display this warning message, no matter the root cause.

The brake light bulb is not an ‘isolator unit.’ Instead, it relies on several other components like related switches and fuses to work when you depress the pedal. So, what are the possible causes of brake lamp bulb faults on Ford Focus and other car models?

What causes brake lamp bulb fault

Several factors can cause the brake lamp bulb fault on Ford Escape or other car models. These factors include wiring issues, defective light bulbs, blown fuses, bad brake switches, and faulty modules or relays.

Faulty brake switch

Auto manufacturers program brake lights to stay lit only when the driver depresses the brake pedal. This is not magic! A brake switch signals the brake light bulbs to light whenever you step on the brake pedal. This switch is mounted underneath the driver’s footrest area near the pedals.

This brake switch collects the driver’s command as soon as you depress the brake pedal and light the brake lights at the back of the car. In some cases, the ABS comes on at the brake switch failure. So what happens when you have a brake lamp bulb fault on Ford transit or your respective car models due to a bad switch in the brake light is not light up?

If this happens, other drivers coming from behind will not know when you depress the brake pedal. Of course, this will increase the risk of road accidents.

Dead or faulty bulbs

Brake light bulbs do not last the lifespan of a car. Over time, they will become old and weak, lose their brightness, and eventually stop lighting. So, it’s possible that a dead brake light bulb is the reason the brake lamp bulb is flickering or not lighting.

In some vehicles, you’ll see a brake lamp bulb fault warning message on the dashboard at the brake bulb’s flickering or stops lighting. The purpose of the warning message is to notify you of underlying issues for you to track the root cause and proffer solutions.

Wiring issues

Wiring issues are another common reason for a brake lamp bulb fault on Ford Escape 2016 and other car models. Wires connect to the brake bulbs, switches, and fuses. Any issues along the connection can cut the electric flow and prevent the brake lights from lighting when you step on the brake pedal.

Blown fuses

Fuses prevent the key components they are protecting from damage. Most fuses have two terminals and a metal stripe that runs through these terminals. If the metal strip break or the fuse get burnt, it will not pass current to the main component it is safeguarding.

In the case of a brake bulb, once the fuse breaks, the brake lamp bulb will not light up until you trace and replace it.

The brake light fuses are placed inside the fuse box under the hood or underneath the steering wheel. A blown fuse can be responsible for a flickering brake light and can cause the bulb not to light at all. So, if the brake switch and the brake bulb are not the leading cause, a blown a fuse is likely responsible for the issue.

Defective modules or relays

Brake modules or relays are the brake system’s central units that collect the driver’s command and ensure effective braking. If the module becomes faulty, it can cause the brake light to malfunction and brake failure.

Now that we have seen the probable causes of brake lamp bulb faults, how can you fix them?

Brake Lamp Bulb

How do you fix the brake lamp bulb fault?

Since there are several causes of brake lamp bulb faults, there are several possible approaches to rectify them.

Replace a dead brake bulb

If a dead brake bulb is the root cause, the only way to rectify it is to change the dead bulb. Follow the below steps to change the dead bulb.

  • Unscrew the screws holding the lamp in place
  • Gently unplug the connector on the bulb and inspect it. If there’s a dust substance inside the bulb, the filament has broken or has turned dark brown; you have a dead bulb that needs replacement.
  • Get a new bulb and replace it following the reverse process.

Replace a defective brake switch

If a bad switch is a culprit, you’ll only have to replace it to fix the problem. As reiterated above, the brake switch is mounted underneath the steering wheel, near the car pedals. Locate and replace the dead switch with a good one. However, you want to ensure this is the root cause before replacing it.

Fix wiring issues

Let’s get this straight; you can fix electrical issues on a car with the right guidance, but I don’t recommend doing it unless you’re good at what you do. This is because wrong wiring can damage the entire line and lead to a severe problem.

However, if the root cause is a wiring problem, you can fix it in three ways.

  • Tape exposed wires with electrical tape.
  • Clean all connectors and tighten loose connections
  • Rewire or replace damaged wires.

Replace a lousy fuse

If proper diagnosis proves that the root cause is a blown a fuse, then you have to replace the fuse with the same amperage. Do not use higher or lower amperages for a fuse replacement. For Instance, If your brake lamp fuse is 7.5, do not use 5 or 10.

Follow the below steps to replace a blown a fuse.

  • Switch off the engine and locate the fuse box
  • Locate the brake lamp fuse by following the instruction on the fuse cover. A faulty fuse will have a broken metal strip across the two terminals.
  • Pull out the dead fuse and install a new one.

Contact an experienced service technician.

If none of these probable solutions fixes the problem, contact an auto mechanic to diagnose and rectify it. It could be you did not perform the diagnosis and fixes properly, or the brake module is the root cause.

How Much Does it cost to fix Brake Lamp Bulb Fault?

Brake lamp bulb replacement is an easy repair task that anyone can do with the right guide. However, a brake lamp bulb fault costs around $10 to $30 to fix. If you decide to fix the problem at home, you’ll spend $10 on the bulbs and save $20 in labor fees. Fixing it on your own will also save you the inconvenience of driving down to a repair shop and the wait time.

FAQs

Q: Can I drive with my brake light on?

The brake light on the dashboard will not stop you from driving. But, it is dangerous to drive with it because the brake light on the dashboard means there’s an underlying problem that needs attention. 

Issues like faulty sensors, failed ABS systems, worn brake pads, and leaking or low brake fluid can trigger the brake light on the dash. Of course, any of these can cause the brake system to fail when you try to brake. However, a partially engaged parking brake or a less severe issue like a burnt brake bulb can be the leading cause.

Since the brake is a safety feature, you have to rectify the issue no matter the root cause.

Q: How long can I drive with the brake light on?

Several issues can cause the brake light to stay lit on the dashboard. If the leading cause is a worn brake pad, you can drive 500 to 1000 miles before incurring any damage on related brake components like the brake rotors and calipers. However, if the cause is leaking brake fluid, the brake will fail at any time. Therefore, it is important to diagnose and fix the problem immediately.

Q: Is there a fuse for the brake light?

The brake light has a fuse that acts as a shield to protect it from blowing. Like other fuses in car fuses, the braking light fuse is located in the power distribution center (fuse box) under the hood or beneath the steering wheel.

Q: Can I drive without brake lights?

It is illegal to drive without a brake light in the states. For this reason, most officers will issue you a ticket for cruising without brake lights. You can avoid all these hassles by fixing the problem once you detect it. However, some officers will only pull you over and warn you if you’re driving with only one brake light out.

Q: Why is my brake light on after replacing brake pads?

Undoubtedly, several issues can cause the brake light to come on. If you replace the brake pads and the lights are still on, you likely have other issues that need attention. This could mean the brake fluid is low or leaking, the ABS is malfunctioning, you have defective sensors, or the emergency brakes are partially engaged.

Q: Are tail lights and brake lights on the same fuse?

While the tail light and brake light share the same bulb on most vehicles, they have different circuits. That is why the tail light can die while the brake light is still functioning and vice versa.

Q: How would a driver know that a brake light bulb is not working?

Some newer vehicles have indicators that notify the driver while the brake light is flickering or not coming on. An example of this indicator is the brake lamp bulb fault warning message. If you drive older model cars without these warnings, the driver can know if the brake bulb light is not working by asking a friend to stand behind the vehicle while he depresses the brake pedal.

Final Words

Brake lamp bulb fault warning message is not common with all vehicles, especially older models. So, there’s a chance your baby ride does not have this feature, meaning it may not pop up on your dashboard throughout the lifespan of your car.

But if you’re seeing this message on your dashboard, follow the above instructions to track and rectify the leading cause. This article has explained the meaning, causes, and how to fix the problem, making it easier for you to rectify the problem.

Osuagwu Solomon

Osuagwu Solomon is a seasoned automotive technician for the past 9 years, and a technical writer. He loves writing about auto professional repair guides, DIY repair guides, and buyer’s guide. After spending six years in the automotive workshop, he decided to impact his knowledge to people aside his domain, and he has achieved this by centering his Automotive writing skills on REPAIRS.

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