Understanding Brake Warning Lights On Your Dashboard
A vehicle must be properly maintained if you want it to run reliably in the future. Since many drivers lack the mechanical knowledge required to determine when a vehicle is in need of repair, a series of warning lights are installed on most dashboards to help alert drivers to a potential problem.
One warning light that you might not be familiar with is the brake warning light. This is not the red symbol that appears when your parking brake is activated, but the brake service and repair light. There are a few reasons why this light might activate, and understanding these reasons can help you better care for your car in the future.
Brake Fluid Problems
The most common reason a brake warning light will activate is problems with the fluid traveling through your braking system. Brake fluid plays a crucial role in helping to prevent pressure fluctuations that might affect braking distances.
Without an adequate supply of fluid in the brake lines and master cylinder, you may have difficulty bringing your vehicle to a stop. Your brakes could also overheat because they aren't being properly lubricated by the brake fluid. The brake warning light will illuminate when brake fluid levels drop below an acceptable volume.
Brake Pad Wear
Another reason the brake warning light might appear on your vehicle's dashboard is excessive wear on your brake pads. The pads are responsible for clamping down on the brake caliper to help stop your tires from rotating. Friction between the pads and the rotors can cause the brake pads to wear away over time.
The replacement of worn brake pads is a common repair, but failing to install new pads when yours are worn could cause serious damage to your braking system. Most modern brake pads are equipped with wear indicators that create a squealing noise as your pads become too worn, but the brake warning light can also activate to alert you of the need for pad replacement.
Loss of Hydraulic Pressure
The braking systems on most modern vehicles are divided into two separate hydraulic circuits. This separation ensures that problems with one circuit will not affect your car's ability to brake safely.
Your brake warning light will come on when a loss of hydraulic pressure is sensed in one of the brake circuits. Should the other circuit fail before you make repairs, you will be unable to bring your vehicle to a stop. Always have a mechanic, like those at George's Eastside Shell, immediately diagnose a brake warning light so that you can keep your car running safely.