What does an emergency/parking brake light inspection include?

A routine parking brake light inspection will include the mechanic examining your full parking brake system. For this particular issue, the mechanic will likely check the handle, switch, and parking brake shoes. If necessary, the mechanic may also inspect other key braking components, like the reservoir, cap, and fluid level sensor.
Parking brakes are connected to the rear brakes by a steel cable that works with the rear brakes to hold the car in place. The parking brake light, however, has multiple functions. It does illuminate to warn you when your parking brake is engaged, but it also comes on during other situations as well—some of which aren’t connected to your parking brake at all.

How to perform an emergency/parking brake light inspection

If your parking brake light is staying illuminated even when you disengage your parking brake, your mechanic will take a look at the following issues:
  • Failed switch: One common cause for the light to stay on is a failed (or failing) switch. This can be tested by wriggling the brake handle once it’s down. If the light turns off (or off then back on), it’s most likely the switch, which will need to be replaced.
  • Handle not fully lowered: The light may also be on because the brake handle isn’t lowered completely. You can double-check that the handle is all the way down and that the parking brake is fully disengaged. Even the slightest pressure on the brake cable will keep the light on.
  • Parking brake is staying engaged: Sometimes the light stays on because of an issue with the parking brake itself. The light will stay lit if the brake isn’t fully disengaging when the handle is lowered.
  • Low brake fluid: Most parking brake lights are designed to light up if your brake fluid goes below a certain level. This is likely the case if the light tends to turn off or on when making turns.
  • Bad level sensor: The master cylinder comes with a brake fluid sensor. If this sensor starts failing or has gone bad, the light will come on.
  • Uneven fluid pressure: If you’re noticing your car pulling to one side when you brake, it could be due to uneven brake fluid pressure. This not only affects your brake performance, but it may turn the parking brake light on.

When do I need to get my emergency/parking brake light inspected?

Issues with your parking brake could indicate more serious issues. Since an illuminated parking brake light could point to several different problems, it’s safest to get it inspected sooner rather than later.

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