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How To Reset Your Parking Brake Light

in Ownership
Parked car

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Turning on the car key will cause all light indicators in your dashboard to flash briefly and quickly go away. One of those indicators is your car’s parking brake light which comes on whenever the parking brake is applied or not fully released.

If the parking brake light stays on despite not engaging the parking brake, there’s likely something wrong with the parking brake system or the switch. Before you take your car to the repair shop, you may want to try resetting your parking brake light first.

Today, we’ve created a quick guide on how to reset your parking brake light and other information about your car’s parking brake system.

How Does Your Parking Brake Work?

Before learning how to reset your parking brake light, you must learn how a car’s parking brake works.

Your car’s parking brake system is usually separate from the regular braking system, but you can find some systems that include parts from other brakes. To engage the parking brake, a hand lever, pedal, or an electronic switch is used to prevent the wheels from turning while in park.

The parking brake system has a switch that activates the light indicator whenever the parking brake is engaged, and the ignition is on. The light indicator also serves as a reminder that the parking brake is engaged and needs to be released before driving. Some vehicles will automatically deactivate the parking brake once you shift out of park.


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Solutions on How To Reset Your Parking Brake Light

If your parking brake light stays on, it can either be a minor or major mechanical issue, or it’s just something you overlooked.

Below are some solutions on how to reset your parking brake light. After performing one of these steps, try disengaging the parking brake and see if it fixes the issue.

Double-Check Your Brake Lever/Handle

Have you ever driven your car only to realize that the parking brake is still on? We’ve all done it.

Sometimes, the right solution is usually the simplest one. The reason why your parking brake light stays on is that you didn’t properly disengage the lever or handle. The parking brake lever or handle must be completely lowered to disengage the braking system, so the light indicator goes away.

Double-check your parking brake lever before calling your mechanic guy. Otherwise, there may be other factors in play.

Look Over Your Brake Fluid Level

If your parking brake light stays on or activates intermittently while driving, it may mean that you need to top off your brake fluid. The master cylinder fluid reservoir contains the brake fluid, and at low levels, it will prevent the parking brake from being engaged - sometimes causing the light to malfunction.

If the brake fluid level is low, it might be a good idea to change the brake pads as well for the sake of efficiency. As the pads get worn out, the calipers are being pushed further out of their bores. The further they are, the more fluid is being drawn to them, which isn’t efficient.

After replacing the brake pads, top off the brake fluid up to the maximum recommended level.


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Investigate for a Brake Fluid Leak

Another factor that may contribute to the malfunction of the brake system is if there’s a leak. In case of a leak, the brake fluid will drip out of the hydraulic system, which will lead to low fluid levels.

Some fluid leaking out of your car may be an indication of a brake fluid leak. Check your car’s brake fluid reservoir and see if there’s a sufficient amount of fluid. If the reservoir is empty, you may be dealing with a leak.

Another way to check for brake fluid leaks is by pushing down the brake pedal. If the pedal goes straight into the floor with little to no resistance, there’s a good chance that there’s a leak. If that’s the case, find the source of the leak and fix it yourself or call a mechanic.

Examine the Parking Brake Switch

Regardless of whether you have a hand-lever or foot parking brake, your vehicle likely has a switch that sends a signal whenever it’s engaged. A malfunctioning switch will cause the parking brake light to remain lit or blink.

If the contacts or connections on these switches are damaged, blocked, and in disarray, the parking brake light is likely to malfunction. In this case, you should open your car’s center console or footwell, look for the switch, and make sure the wiring connections are in place.

In some cases, you might end up replacing the switch altogether to get it working again.


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Check for Faulty Brake Sensors

The brake system’s master cylinder is equipped with a brake fluid level sensor. These sensors are responsible for informing the driver about the state of the brake system - information such as brake fluid levels to the parking brake being engaged.

Like every component in your vehicle, the brake sensors can also fail and may produce false errors and illuminate the brake light even when it’s not engaged. Sometimes, all it takes to fix a malfunctioning sensor is to simply take it off and plug it back in. You can try taking off the sensor, cleaning it if necessary, inspecting the other wires, and putting it back in.

If you have a bad or failing brake sensor, your car might be due to an inspection.

Mind Your Parking Brake Light

That wraps up our guide on how to reset your parking brake light. Your parking brake light comes on and warns you if there are potential problems with your vehicle’s brake system. Like all electronics, the parking brake light can malfunction.

While the parking brake is not integral to how you drive the car, it’s wise not to ignore the warning lights - it’s a huge safety risk since it involves the brake system. Whether it’s a faulty sensor or low levels of brake fluid, make sure that you address the issue right away.

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