The Importance of Brake Light on Dashboard

Every car user has seen it when they start the vehicle, the brake light on the dash is the typical operating system of brakes. It should go off once you release the hand brake. The brake light also blinks on the dashboard when your vehicle is parked, but it is nothing to be worried about.

However, what is not acceptable is an on brake light while your vehicle is up and running. Everyone knows how important your vehicle’s braking system is hence a faulty brake system should not be taken lightly. Today’s topic looks at the reasons for the brake light on the dashboard turning on or blinking and what you should do about it.

Brake Warning Light on Reasons

Brakes are an essential safety feature installed on your vehicle. In most cases, the light appears to be a red or yellow circle with an exclamation mark “!” or letter “P” in the middle. When you see this light turn on, it tells you that there is most likely something wrong with your vehicle’s braking system. You can ignore it until later, but the price of doing so may turn out to be expensive and dangerous. In some instances, the light may just indicate normal operations. Read on this article for in-depth guidance on this issue.

Normal Functioning

When the Hand Brake is on

It is not always that the brake light indicates a possible problem in the braking system. At times, it turns on when you start the vehicle and only turns off when you release the hand brake. You should not run the risk of driving with the brake light on because it is unsafe for you and other road users. Examine your parking brake and apply the release mechanism to ensure that it is completely disengaged. However, if you disengage the hand brake, but the brake light on the dash stays on, this tells you that there is an issue in the braking system that could prevent your vehicle from stopping.

When your Vehicle is Parked

Another typical reason for your dashboard brake light on is parking your vehicle. Modern cars have their brake light on and off whenever the handbrake is activated or deactivated via a button.

When the parking brake is engaged, the brake light on the dash turns on, but this is entirely normal. Once you engage the gear of the vehicle to start moving, the light disappears. Therefore, there is no reason to worry if your vehicle is in parking and the dash brake light is on.

Other Factors that Turn on Brake Light on Dash

When there is a Problem

There is most likely a problem with your braking system if the brake light and abs light are on. However, this light turning on does not precisely tell you the problem that there is. You will most often require the help of a specialist to diagnose and solve the issue with the braking system.

There could be several causes of brake system failure. If the dash “BRAKE” light is on while the emergency brake is off, it means that you have to add brake fluid. Some of the brake fluids you can add are dot 3, dot 4, or dot 5 depending on the type of your vehicle. Also, ensure you check your vehicle’s user manual to figure out the exact type of brake fluid it uses.

You May Like: The Best Brake Fluid Testers Reviews

Worn out Brake Pads or Shoes

Brake pads usually last up to about 35,000 miles though it varies from vehicle to vehicle. One of the reasons for a car such as Audi brake light on the dash is brake pads that are completely worn out. You ought to replace brake pads or shoes on time to save you money on the run. Typically, what you notice first is screeching or squeaking noises. The indicator light on the dash. You should check the owner’s manual to find out if your car is equipped with a low-pad warning system.

Leaking Brake Fluid

Brake fluid is subjected to high pressure and temperature to bring your vehicle to a halt. You should always check the brake fluid because in case of a brake fluid leaking and reduce the mini level in the reservoir tank; the overall efficiency is reduced. Brake fluid levels decrease due to the wear of brake pads or shoes.

One of the things you should do to find a leak is by looking at the driveway where you park your vehicle. If there are any fluid paddles, it might be an excellent starting clue. You can also inspect brake wheel cylinders if you have drum wheels as well as areas close to the master brake cylinder.

Faulty Brake Sensor System

When your vehicle’s brake sensor system (ABS) is not functional, then skidding, loss of traction, as well as hydroplaning, are more prone to occur. The ABS for most vehicles is designed to give lots of warning signs that there is a likely problem in the system. Replacing ABS sensors costs about $100 or $200. The ABS module costs from $200 up to $600 and an extra amount for labor is also charged. When the lights are on, there is a likelihood of a faulty brake sensor system.

Vehicle Electrical Line Problems

A brake warning light might not specify the problem at all. If you already have checked the other possibilities and none of them seems to be the reason for the light on, the electrical line in your vehicle may have issues. The erroneous brake light, for instance, may be caused by a low battery voltage.

Try and find out if the vehicle’s battery has a bad cell or is weak. You may need to boost the car. However, determining if the Honda element brake light on the dash may require a code reader and specialized electrical diagnostic tools.

Read Also: Noise When Braking at Low Speed

Brake Light on Dashboard (FAQs)

Is it safe to drive your car with the brake light on?

If the brake light on the dash comes on, you ought to take notice and contact a mechanic immediately. Brakes are a vital safety feature for your vehicle that helps ensure your safety, that of your family or friends, and other road users. As such, a warning brake light should not be ignored.

However, if the light comes on while the car is in parking or when the handbrake is engaged, this is just normal. The light should turn off once you disengage the hand or parking brakes. What you should not do is continue driving when the light is still on or blinking. The light does not tell the exact problem, just that there is a fault in the braking system.

What should you do if the brake warning light comes on?

Once you start your vehicle and the brake error light comes on, ensure that the hand brake or parking brake are disengaged. However, if the light remains on, you need to turn off the engine and begin inspecting for possible reasons for the issue.

If the light comes on while you are in traffic, you should not panic. You only need to slowly move to the side of the road, engage the parking brake, and place life saves at the recommended distance. You should then ask for help from a mechanic if you have tried to diagnose the braking system to no avail. You have to know what could be the cause of the light turning on before you start examining the vehicle.

How long can you drive with the brake light on?

Driving with the brake warning light on can be fatal because your vehicle’s stopping mechanism may be faulty or not working. Typically, there are lots of factors that determine how long your vehicle’s brake pads can last after the pt cruiser brake light on the dash turns on. A rough estimate of about 1600 km or 1000 miles of driving shows the distance where efficient braking is maintained. After that, the entire system may fail to work at optimum efficiency. It is recommended that you have the braking system checked immediately after the warning light turns on.

Can worn brake pads cause the brake light to come on?

Yes, they can. As the piston extends, the level of brake fluid drops, and thus the warning light is triggered. Modern cars are equipped with a sensor that causes the light to turn on when the brake pads are worn out. Brake pads usually last up to about 35,000 miles though it varies from vehicle to vehicle. You should, however, check your vehicle’s manual to know if this is provided for. If you are not sure, just check the brake pads to ensure they are in good condition.

How do I know which brake fluid to use?

There are various ways to know the type of brake fluid your car uses. One, you can open the brake fluid reservoir to check the color of the brake fluid. There are DOT3, DOT4, and DOT5 types, each suited for different vehicles. If you cannot tell from the color of the brake fluid, try reading the owner’s manual, and it will tell you the exact brake fluid to use for your vehicle.


If you find any of your brake lights on, you should not continue driving the vehicle. A proper brake function is the main element of road safety. Also, note that a warning brake light switch is the potential to drain your battery if it stays on. Better safe than sorry! Have the braking system checked, and you will be back on the road within no time and with an assurance of safety. You should also make the braking system a part of your maintenance schedule.

Our Reviews :


Hi there, I am R. Hasan Tito, a mechanic, and owner of this website. My friend and I created this website to share our knowledge, expertise, and experience with our fellow mechanics' community and car users. I am a specialist and certified automotive mechanic (Both Heavy Commercial and Private Cars). I worked as a Mechanic and Mechanic Supervisor for over fifteen years at Global Rebound Automotive companies - Toyota, TATA, BMW, Nissan, TVs, and Others. Now, I enjoy my new role of leading a team of automotive experts (in their respective fields) and publish new content on a regular basis on my website and social media.

Recent Posts