What Do Dashboard Brake Lights (Brake Warning Lights) Mean

There are quite a few dashboard lights in most of today’s vehicles. These are designed to get your attention when things go wrong. Those include your tire pressure light, check engine light, and issues with your brakes. When a dashboard brake warning light appears, it’s important to know what it means and how Les Schwab can help diagnose brake issues, fix most brake problems, and get you safely back on the road. Here’s what dashboard brake lights mean and what to do when you see one.

Common Dashboard Brake Lights & What They Mean

When you first start your car, every dashboard light you have will light up for a brief moment. Then, they’ll go out, unless there is an issue. If one of the brake warning lights stays lit, or appears as you drive, the following images will help you identify it and decide how soon to get into Les Schwab for your safety.

Anti-lock Braking System Light

This is your car’s ABS (anti-lock braking system) light. The ABS system reduces skidding and stopping distance in emergencies. When you see either of these indicators, your car’s ABS may have an electrical problem. Go straight to Les Schwab. Don’t ignore it, even if you haven’t noticed any change in your car’s braking or handling.

ABS Dash Lights

Brake Service Light

These dashboard lights could indicate that your brakes need servicing or that your parking brake has been left on. If the light goes off when you disengage the parking brake, you’re all set. If not, get to Les Schwab so we can check your brakes for any other safety issues.

Brake Service Dash Lights

Parking Brake Light

Some vehicles have a PARK light, while others have a BRAKE or ((P)) indicator that illuminates when your parking brake is engaged. If your parking brake isn’t engaged, or any of these lights remain on when you disengaged it, there may be an issue. These can include hydraulic brake components or low brake fluid in the master cylinder. Unsure about these parts or fluids? If these lights appear and stay on, stop by Les Schwab and we’ll take a look.

Parking Brake Dash Lights

When Did the Brake Light Turn On

Brake warning lights should not be ignored. You need those brakes to stop safely, whether you’re driving across town or cruising on the highway. If any one of your brake warning lights stays on after you start your vehicle, or if they light up while you’re driving, see the above images to help pinpoint what that brake light means and when you should get to Les Schwab for a full inspection.

Main Reasons Why A Brake Light is On

Dashboard brake lights that turn on after starting your vehicle or while driving can be caused by a few scenarios. These include:

The parking or emergency brake is engaged.

If your parking brake (commonly known as an emergency or hand brake) is pulled or engaged, it can cause a dashboard emergency light to illuminate. Even if yours is not pulled or activated, try to turn it on and off (engage and disengage). If the dashboard light turns off, there are likely no issues with your brakes.

There’s an ABS issue.

If the Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) light appears, there may be something wrong with your ABS system. This can pose a safety risk for you and your family. Get to Les Schwab where our technicians can diagnose and possibly repair the issue.

Brake fluid is low.

There is a sensor inside the brake master cylinder that continually monitors your brake fluid levels. When levels get too low, the warning light will appear. This indicates that you need additional brake fluid added to your vehicle. If left unresolved, the lack of brake fluid can cause brake failure and other damage.

A brake light has burned out.

Not all vehicles have this dashboard light, but if yours does you’ll get an alert when one or both of your brake lights (on the back of your vehicle) are no longer working. Don’t wait to get your brake lights replaced. These lights warn other drivers that you are braking, keeping you and others safe on the road.

Brake pads wearing out.

In most cases, you’ll know your brake pads are getting low, and will soon need servicing, when you hear the brake pad wear indicator. The indicator emits a constant, high-pitched screech that comes from the wheel. The sound only goes away as you use the brake pedal. Learn more about this high-pitch sound along with other brake sounds and smells. Please note: in some vehicles, an indicator light will appear as your brake pads wear down and need servicing.

How to Turn Off Brake Lights on the Dash

Your vehicle’s dashboard brake light indicators are there for your safety. When one appears, determine what the warning light is trying to tell you and then diagnose the issue. If it’s simply your parking brake, the light will likely disappear when you engage and disengage it a few times.

To ensure that the light is not simply on because of a stuck pedal or other small issue, turn your vehicle completely off and then on again. If the dashboard indicator is still there, get to Les Schwab. Our technicians have been specially trained to inspect and repair your brakes.

Visit a Nearby Les Schwab for a Free Brake Inspection

When a brake light appears on your dashboard, get to your local Les Schwab. Our brake pros will perform a free brake inspection. If nothing needs to be done, they’ll let you know and send you on your way. But, if you do need brake servicing, they’ll put together a detailed cost estimate, explain what needs to be done to improve your safety, and answer all of your questions.

Find Your Store