Troubleshooting an Emergency Brake Light That Won't Turn Off

the emergency brake is lit up on car dashboard

A lit emergency brake light on the dashboard is a good reminder for drivers to release the brake before take off. However, sometimes a wonky wire or bad connection can get in the way, which makes it hard to know if the emergency brake is on or off. Troubleshooting the problem can help to pinpoint where the fault is and correct it.

Simple Checks

Take a look at the emergency brakes and make sure they are turned off. If this does not correct the problem, then proceed to run the following checks.

Electrical Problem

Another reason that might cause emergency light brakes to stay on is a fault in the battery or electrical system. Inspect the catalytic converter to find out if it is working correctly. Check circuitry basics as well, establish if fuses and switches are working as needed. It might be necessary to adjust the switch to the pedal.

Check Brake Fluid Level

One of the common reasons why the dashboard brake light remains on when the emergency brake is off is when there is need for addition of brake fluid. Open the cap, check the level, and add fresh brake fluid as needed.

Many cars have a brake fluid reservoir that indicates the fluid level even without opening the cap. To correct the problem, locate it toward the back of the engine bay on the driver’s side. Check the marking on the side that indicates whether there is need to add a fresh supply of brake fluid.

Add Brake Fluid

If the brake fluid levels are low, start by wiping the fluid reservoir with a clean rag to remove dirt, particles, grease. or debris. Such materials can easily contaminate brake fluid and degrade its quality. This eliminates such problems that can also clog its components.

Remove the cap and add the brake fluid slowly until it reaches the recommended level. Close the reservoir and keep on checking on the brake fluid level regularly to prevent such problems.

Check Fluid Leak

Find out if there are signs of external leaks. this can be detected by fluid drops on the bolts near the master cylinder booster as well as on the floor where the car is packed. Take a look at the hoses tube fitting and tighten them as recommended by the manufacturer.

Find out if the leakage is coming from the master cylinder too. If it can be fixed by tightening tube nuts, replacing tube seats or tightening the cap then make changes as necessary. If this does not solve the problem, then replace the master cylinder with a new one.


When filling the reservoir with brake fluid, never shake the bottle as it introduces bubbles that can cause serious problems in the system.

If there is a problem with emergency brake lights and the brake pedal feels spongy or abnormal, do not drive the car. Tow it to a mechanic or where it can be repaired properly.