Brake Light Blinking: A Guide on the Causes and Fixes

Your vehicle’s brake light blinking may be worrisome or frustrating, especially for new car owners.

Brake Light Blinking

Some causes, such as low brake fluid, are easy to fix, while you might have to hire a professional for others. Read this complete article to find out why the warning light blinks and see how you can fix it.

Why Is Your Brake Light Blinking on the Dashboard?

Your brake light is blinking on the dashboard because of low levels or poor quality brake fluid. An electrical problem such as defective wiring, a burnt fuse, or a dead battery can cause blinking. Additionally, the car might be indicating worn brake pads or bulbs.

  • Low Quality or Quantity of Brake Fluid

Low brake hydraulic fluid can be a reason for LED brake lights flashing on the dashboard. The fluid is an essential part of the hydraulic brake system. When you push the brake pedal, the fluid transfers the force to the brake components near the wheel to stop the car.

Depletion or contamination of this fluid can fail your brakes. The first indication is a yellow circle with an exclamation mark. You can still drive the car, but when it turns red, the car is indicating severe problems.

Flashing Brake Light on Dashboard

However, if the brake light on dashboard goes on and off, it may imply two issues, i.e., low brake hydraulic fluid or another issue in the hydraulic system. Thus, it is important to consider the error codes and diagnose whether your brakes need repair or the fluid needs replacement.

The hydraulic fluid may deplete due to any of the following reasons:

  • Leakage in the brake calipers, lines, hoses, or wheel cylinders may cause this. Leakages are easy to detect because of dripping and fluid puddles.
  • Shabby brake parts, such as friction pads, make the calipers and cylinders move further to contact the brake parts. In this scenario, more fluid is needed to fill the space, so the reservoir fluid level decreases.
  • The fluid might evaporate due to heat. Good-quality hydraulic fluids have a high boiling point, preventing evaporation in high heat. Old or poor-quality fluid evaporates when the car overheats, dropping its level in the reservoir.

You can easily detect this problem by finding the reservoir. In most cars, such as Subaru Outback, it is under the hood on the driver’s side and has minimum and maximum marks. You should observe the level and quality of the fluid. New or clean fluid is clear or a pale yellow, but it appears dark if contaminated.

  • Faulty Brake Light Wiring, Fuse, or Battery

The brake lights, like other car parts, run thanks to the electrical connections. If you are thinking about what causes brake light on dash to stay on or the reason the brake lights flashing when car is off, there can be an issue with the wiring.

Many causes explain faulty wiring. The most common cause is corrosion resulting in intermittent connections or damaged parking brake switches. Consequently, the parking brake warning light may go on or off.

Accidents can also disrupt electrical connections. A high impact may cut or damage the wires leading to wiring failure. Moreover, old wires deteriorate due to continuous vibrations and temperature changes.

Since all wires are insulated with a material that melts due to high temperatures, heat buildup can wear the wire. Overheating car parts can also cause short circuits that lead to a blown fuse. The fuse blows when there is a problem in the electrical system. It blows to protect valuable equipment from damage due to electrical fluctuations.

The light may also flicker because of a bad battery. If the battery provides insufficient voltage, the warning lights can be inconsistent. You can confirm by charging or changing the battery.

  • A Defect in the Brake Light Bulb

A brake light flickering on and off can be annoying, and if you did not diagnose the abovementioned causes, you should check the bulb.

The following things can damage the bulb:

  • Dirt or other contaminants near or inside the light housing overheat and damage the bulb
  • Breakage of the light housing seal resulting in water seepage and bulb damage
  • Forced installation of bulb or misalignment causing premature failure
  • Car vibrations weaken the filament in old bulbs
  • Electrical surges overload the filament

Properly installing the bulbs and observing the housing seal can prevent most of these issues. If you doubt bulb failure, you can ask someone to stand behind your car and notice the light while you turn on the ignition and engage the breaks.

If you press the pedal when the car is neutral, the lights will activate. Check each light the same way and ask the person standing behind the car if the bulb illuminates. If a bulb is not glowing, get access by consulting the car’s manual and then inspect it closely. If it appears burnt or you see broken filament, the bulb is to blame, so replacing it will fix the bulb issue.

  • Brake Warning Light Due To Worn Brake Pad

Wearing brake or friction pads is also indicated by a brake light flashing on dashboard. The light is an alert for the drivers warning them to replace the pads. Shabby pads do not stop or slow down the car as efficiently as a normal set. They can also damage the brake discs and are dangerous if you keep driving.

Although the pads undergo continuous stress, they do not wear out frequently, but some factors can speed up the aging process. For instance, harsh driving, high-speed, and undue braking will damage the pads.

Difficult driving conditions, such as hilly areas or dusty paths, also have a similar effect on the pads. Sometimes the pads break because they are non-durable or poorly installed. Regular inspection of the pads is crucial for the safety of the driver. It can also save your car from severe damage due to brake failure, so you should not ignore the signal on the dashboard.

  • Out-of-Order Anti-Lock Braking System

An inoperative anti-lock brake system (ABS) answers your question, “Why is my brake light flashing and beeping?” The system consists of many sensors controlled by software. The components of this system work together to prevent the brakes from locking up. If any component stops functioning, the ABS light flashes or starts beeping.

The system fails if there is a malfunctioning or dirty sensor, hydraulic issues, or software glitch. Detecting the faulty part can be difficult if you are not a trained technician, so you should hire a professional to locate the problem.

Sometimes the check engine light and parking brake light glow together. It happens because some modern cars, such as the Subaru Outback, have interlinked sensors. So a flashing brake light or check engine light signals a car inspection.

How Can You Fix a Blinking or Flashing Brake Light?

You can fix a blinking or flashing brake light by adding brake fluid to the reservoir under the hood. You can also make the brakes work by repairing damaged connections or charging or replacing the battery. Moreover, changing brake lamps or friction pads will stop the blinking.

  • Top up the Brake Fluid Levels To Stop the Blinking

Adding brake hydraulic fluid is easy if you know the location of the reservoir. You can find it with the help of the manual and add fluid up to the maximum mark. The price of hydraulic fluid varies based on multiple factors, including manufacturer, quantity, and quality. A standard 1-liter container of brake fluid costs between $5 and $20.

It is crucial to remember that costs may vary depending on market fluctuations. Furthermore, some cars may need more specialized or higher-performance brake fluid, increasing the cost.

  • Repair the Worn Wiring or Get a New Battery

If the light blinks because of corroding connections, you can fix it yourself if you have experience fixing electronics. The first step is to identify the damaged wiring or fusebox. Replacing the fuse is easy because you just have to remove the old burnt fuse and place the new one in the same location. While dealing with the electrical components, ensure the ignition is off.

Repairing or replacing the brake light connections requires access to the wires. You can find a way to get to the connections by consulting the manual. Twist and pull the corroded, worn, or burnt wires. Connect the new wires to the socket or harness. Buying compatible electrical equipment holds a significant place in the repair process.

Fix a Blinking Brake Light

You can also hire a trusted mechanic to repair the worn connections or replace the car battery. The labor cost can be expensive, but if you do not have experience, it is better to hire a professional than harm yourself.

  • Change Damaged Bulbs and Brake Pads

You can change the brake light bulbs if you have access to them. These bulbs are inexpensive, so you can get each for $20 or less. The price depends on the brand and type of bulb.

You can replace the friction pads if they are causing trouble. There are many types, and the price range is wide. You can get standard pads for around $50 or even less, but premium pads can cost up to $100.

The labor cost may vary from $100 to $300, but you can save money if you have experience changing the pads. Sometimes you may have to buy additional parts if your car has damaged rotors.

Emergency Brake Light Blinking


This blog post sheds light on all emergency brake light blinking causes and fixes. Most repair methods are easy and only require the basic tools you might already have in your toolbox.

The main findings listed below will help you through the process:

  • Dirty or low hydraulic fluid level, worn connections, or a dead car battery can cause the light to flicker.
  • The signal indicates broken friction pads, damaged bulbs, or a fault in the ABS.
  • Top up the fluid or replace the worn bulbs, pads, and battery to fix your car.

The light may blink due to a minor problem, but getting it diagnosed will set you free from anxiety, and you can enjoy driving your car like before!

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