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Brake Warning Lights Notify You When Your Brake System Requires Maintenance
Brake systems are one of the most important parts of any car. They match the power of the engine and velocity of the car with smooth braking power that allows you to slow down safely. Unfortunately, sometimes things go wrong with the brake, which will turn a warning light on in your dashboard.
Brake warning lights could mean a couple different things. Regardless, they should not be ignored. Keep on reading to learn about the reasons why your car might be giving a brake warning.
Why Is My Brake Warning On?
Brake warning lights can be activated for a variety of reasons. Depending on the issue, the warning light on the dashboard will correlate to the component that requires attention. If you are unsure about what the various warning lights refer to, we recommend you consult the owners manual of your car.
In general, brake warning lights could be related to:
- The anti-lock brake system
- The emergency brake
- The front disk brakes
- The rear drum brakes
Issue with the Anti-Lock Brake System
The anti-lock brake system (ABS) helps to prevent your car from losing traction during heavy braking incidents and on slippery road surfaces. By maintain traction, and not skidding, you can still steer your car to safety while braking.
The ABS relies on sensors to measure the speed of the wheels. This information is then transmitted to a miniature computer called the ABS module. If one or more wheels is locking up, the ABS module will activate the ABS actuator. The actuator will rapidly press and release the brake to help the wheels slow down, but not skid.
Due to the variety of electrical components, various issues can arise with the ABS. If something is wrong, the ABS warning light will turn on. This means your brakes will still work, however, not the ABS system.
Emergency Brake Issue
The emergency brake is a back-up system from the hydraulic brakes. It’s a manual braking system that relies on a cable instead of fluid pressure. This means the driver can still activate the brakes even if something is wrong with the brakes.
In modern cars, the emergency brake, also known as the parking brake, has it’s warning light signal on the dashboard. The warning light for the emergency brake could be telling you that there is an issue with the brake itself.
The light could also just be reminding you that the emergency brake has been applied. If the emergency brake light is illuminated, you’ll need to release the brake in order to turn it off and drive.
Low Or Leaking Fluid
Disk brakes and drum brakes rely on braking fluid to properly function. The brake booster, in unison with the master cylinder, build up pressure that pushes brake fluid through the brake system.
When the proper pressure has been created, the brakes are able to squeeze and create friction, which slows the car down and brings it to a stop.
Leaking brake fluid will begin to affect your car’s ability to stop. Overtime, if the fluid becomes low enough, the car may lose its ability to brake altogether. The good news is that a brake warning light will turn on if the fluid in the reservoir becomes low enough.
Worn Out Brake Pads & Shoes
Brake pads work in combination with the disk rotor, while brake shoes work with the drum brakes. Brake pads and rotors are often installed on the front wheels, while brake shoes and drum brakes are equipped on the rear wheels.
When you push on the brake pedal, you activate the brake pads to squeeze the rotor, and the brake shoes to press against the drum brake. This creates friction which slows the car down, and if necessary, bring it to a complete stop.
In time, the brake pads and shoes will wear out. When the pads or shoes near the end of their lifespan, your car will activate a warning light in order to prompt you to get brake service performed.
How to Fix My Brake Light
How to fix your brake light, or getting it to turn off will depend on what the issue is. In older cars, where the warning light system is less developed, there may only be one warning light for the entire brake system. In this case, a mechanic will have to inspect the brake system to diagnose the problem.
In newer cars, there are specialized warning lights for each component. For example, the acronym “ABS” will be displayed on your dashboard if the issue is related to the anti-lock brake system.
On the other hand, the emergency or parking brake will have its on signal. And if the problem is related to the brake system like the fluids or brake pads, then the generic brake warning light will illuminate.
To address the warning light, you will need to inspect the component related to the warning light, and perform repairs.
The Importance of Performing Brake Maintenance
Performing routine brake maintenance is vital for the longevity of your car, and the safety of your driving. When a brake warning light comes on in the dashboard, we recommend you schedule your car for service as soon as possible.
In an ideal world, routine maintenance of your entire brake system will mean that a warning light rarely illuminates, and you are never caught with an unwanted surprise.
If you think your car is experiencing brake issues, but are unsure of what the warning light means, we are here to help. We can fix the brake issue, turn off the warning light, and get you back on the road safely.