What is a brake light switch replacement?

For your car’s brake lights to switch on, the plunger in the brake light switch must come into contact with the lever in the brake pedal assembly. When you push down on the brake pedal and the plunger in the switch depresses, the contacts in the brake light close, allowing electricity to flow into the lights and turn them on.
If you think your brake light switch needs to be replaced, a mechanic will first use a multimeter to test the switch and determine whether the switch itself is defective. In some cases, it may be that another component in the circuit is at fault.

How to replace a brake light switch

If the mechanic finds that the switch isn’t working properly, they will:
  • Unthread it from the mounting near the brake pedal assembly
  • Thread a new switch onto the mounting, adjust it, and lock it into place
  • Test operation of the switch by depressing the brake pedal. Instant illumination of the brake lights means the switch is working properly
A full replacement may not always be necessary. Sometimes it may just be the case that the switch is out of alignment or has a loose contact, situations that can be adjusted without a replacement.

When do I need to replace my brake light switch?

The most obvious indicator that your brake light switch needs to be replaced is if both brake lights stop working at the same time (if only one of your brake lights is out, the issue is either a bulb, the bulb socket, or the brake light circuit).
You may also need to replace your brake light switch if you’re unable to shift out of park while your foot is on the brake. This is because the brake light switch is wired into the shift interlock mechanism.
In most cases, a brake light switch will only need to be replaced due to natural wear and tear on its electronics, which usually takes place over a long period of time.

How important is it to replace my brake light switch?

If your brake light switch isn’t working properly, replacing it promptly is incredibly important. Your brake lights must be able to function normally to alert other drivers when you are slowing down or stopping.
Malfunctioning brake lights can lead to a (costly) collision if you have to slow down suddenly.

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