Why Are My Brake Lights Staying On? Common Reasons and Fixes

“Why are my brake lights staying on?” is a question with various answers because the problem often has different faults or causes. One of the possible faults is a damaged brake sensor.

Why Are My Brake Lights Staying On

In this article, we have outlined the popular reasons for brake lights staying on, as well as the various solutions you can try, so keep reading!

What Are the Possible Reasons Why Your Brake Lights Stay On?

The possible reasons why your brake lights stay on are a damaged brake pedal, faulty stopper, damaged brake light sensor, or corroded brake components. Other reasons include a broken striker, electrical problems, a defective rear brake bulb, and an engaged handbrake.

– Defective Brake Light Switch or Sensor

The brake lights of every vehicle require a switch to function. The switch is located under the dash and is attached to the pedal. If the switch becomes faulty, there is a possibility that the brake lights won’t turn off. The switch operates with other brake light mechanisms like the pedal, stopper, and connections.

Once the switch recognizes that you have pressed the pedal, it will send the signal to illuminate the bulb. But if the switch becomes defective, the light may start to malfunction and stay on after you disengage it or come on while driving. Also, a damaged switch can cause impaired cruise control, vehicle not shifting out of the park, and faulty brake lights.

– Damaged or Stuck Pedal

The brake pedal is used to engage and disengage the vehicle’s brakes. A spring in every car’s brake pedal helps the brake return to its original position after you take your foot away from it. If this spring is damaged, it will become nonfunctional, making the brake lights work continuously without going off.

A brake pedal can become inoperative if the brake pedal spring is loosened. It can also become stuck due to the buildup of corroded materials and debris in the pedal assembly. These materials prevent the pedal from returning to its natural position after disengaging it, leaving the brake lights stuck in the On position. Furthermore, a stuck pedal can deteriorate into brake pads damage and a broken rotor.

– Faulty Stopper

The stopper plays a vital role in the pedal mechanism. It is a plastic or rubber-like component attached to the vehicle’s pedal. Its function is to return the light switch to the off position when your leg is off the brakes. Due to consistent use and old age, the stopper can wear off and stop working.

Reasons of Car Brake Lights Staying On

A faulty stopper won’t push the switch back. Subsequently, the switch will remain in the on position, and the brake light will stay switched on. If you do not fix the issue, the switched-on light will confuse motorists behind your vehicle.

– Non-Matching Bulbs

If the bulb of your vehicle’s tail light is bad, you must replace the part. However, when doing this replacement, you must be extra careful not to use the wrong bulb. Ensure you check the socket and identify the type of bulb that matches or fits it. This is because some sockets can only support bulbs with two circuits, while some only support bulbs with one circuit.

The bulb might fit, but it may not be the right bulb for the socket. Therefore, installing a non-matching bulb in these sockets can cause a short circuit, and lights will stay on.

– Corroded Brake Components

Like most vehicle parts, brake components such as the pedals and brakes are made of metal. Due to their manufacturing material, they often experience corrosion and rusting. When these components become corroded, they will become faulty and malfunction. A problem that may arise from corroded brake components is the brake light always staying on.

– Broken Striker

Most cars have a striker at the top of the pedal linkage. This component disengages the switch after you have taken your foot away from the pedal. If this striker breaks, the switch may not disengage after you press down on the brake, and the light will stay on. Also, it is possible that the striker was repositioned or has deteriorated due to wear, causing the lights to remain on while driving.

– Defective Rear Brake Bulb

Vehicles often use a single red bulb or an LED bulb array for the rear brake light. The car’s computer system monitors this bulb. If the brake bulb becomes faulty and goes off or dims, it may cause the light to be switched on. Also, the brake bulb can become defective if it is blown, which can cause the brake light to come on without engaging it.

– Electrical Problems

Electrical or circuitry problems could be the reason your brake light refuses to go off. The brake’s lights require wire connections to come on and stay off because the wires transmit the electrical energy required for their operation.

If there are faulty or damaged wires in the electrical connection, it will affect the entire system and cause the lights to stay on when you don’t engage the brakes.

– Engaged Handbrake

The handbrake is also known as the parking brake. An engaged handbrake is one of the common reasons why brake lights often stay illuminated. If the handbrake is engaged, the handbrake sensor will receive a signal that will trigger the brake warning light to come on. When you fail to disengage the handbrake fully, the brake light will remain on.

– Faulty Sensors

In every vehicle, there are lots of sensors that perform different functions. The brake system is no exception, with many sensors for efficient operation. Some of the sensors linked to the brake system are in the handbrake, master cylinder, and ABS. If any of these sensors become damaged, they could make the lights of your brake stay on while driving.

How To Fix Brake Lights That Are Always On?

You can fix brake lights that are always on by replacing the damaged brake warning light switch, removing burnt-out bulbs, ensuring the pedal bumper is functioning correctly, detaching the car battery, and maintaining clean sockets. Other remedies include removing dirt from the pedal and inspecting the brake fluid level.

– Replace the Damaged Brake Light Switch

Once you discover that the switch is damaged, then you should consider replacing it entirely. Before you remove the switch, ensure that you first disconnect and store the pigtail harness as you might need it later. The switch is often marked, and you can find it near the pedal linkage.

Ensure you don’t lose the mounting hardware because you will need it when installing the new switch. If you mistakenly break the harness release, use electric tape to hold the pigtail while reattaching the components.
Also, if you don’t want to go through this stress or want the job done perfectly, you should contact a local mechanic. The mechanic has the expertise to install the new switch correctly without breaking the harness release.

The cost of fixing a brake switch can range from $30 to $300, including labor costs. The final cost will depend on your vehicle model, the reason for the switch malfunction, and the fees of the mechanic you hire.

– Remove Burnt-Out Bulbs

A faulty bulb is most likely due to a burn out. Inspect the tail light’s bulbs to see whether they are damaged. If they are damaged, you should simply install new bulbs.

Fixes of Why Are My Brake Lights Staying On

Also, installing a new bulb in the socket is not enough. The new bulb must match the socket, so compare the circuit information on the old one with the new one and ensure that you fit the right one into position.

– Ensure the Pedal Bumper Is Functioning Correctly

If you have a deteriorating pedal bumper sitting on top of the pedal assembly, it will activate your switch and the brake lights will come on. A missing bumper can also cause this problem. Thus, you must ensure the pedal bumper is in good condition and working properly.

Inspect the floorboard beneath the pedals for bluish or yellowish rubber particles. If you spot these particles, it means that you have a deteriorated pedal bumper. The deterioration is due to heat, wear, and age, so you should have a mechanic replace the failed pedal bumper with a new one. More so, you should replace missing bumpers in order to close out the brake circuit.

– Remove the Battery

When the brake lights come on and refuse to be switched off, it will take a toll on the vehicle’s battery and slowly drain its energy. To fix this problem, detach the battery while your vehicle is off. Although this is a temporary remedy, it prevents the battery energy from being drained out so that you can use the conserved power to start the car later.

Ensure the vehicle’s hood latch is not electric before disconnecting the negative battery terminal. This is in order to avoid electrocution while detaching the battery.

– Remove Dirt From the Pedal

The brake lights may stay on if there is dirt and debris buildup or corrosion between the switch and pedal, so inspect the pedal for any signs of dirt or corrosion, and if you find any, remove them. If your brake lights remain on after cleaning the dirt around the pedal, you should contact a professional (mechanic) to check the vehicle.

– Align the Pedal Correctly

If the pedal fails to push the switch correctly, the brake’s lights may stay on. This problem is often due to misalignment of the pedal or switch, so check under the dash above the pedal and follow the pedal arm up to the switch. Typically, you should see that the stoplight switch is aligned with the arm and pushed to shut the brake lights off.

Aligning Car Pedal Correctly

Otherwise, adjust the brake switch so that it gets to open the connection. If the re-alignment fails to turn off the switched-on lights, it means that a defective spring or switch may be the problem. Thus, you should drive the vehicle to an auto repair shop for inspection.

– Maintain Clean Sockets

The presence of corroded or dirty connections can make the brake sockets malfunction, causing the brake’s light to be switched on. Worn wires can also cause the sockets to be inoperative. Therefore, ensure you clean the sockets so that the lights won’t be stuck.

In some cases, cleaning the sockets is no longer sufficient, and you will have to replace them with a new socket unit. With some tools, you can remove the old socket easily by cutting the old wires and replacing them with a new unit.

– Inspect the Brake Fluid Level

A low fluid level can impair the operation of the brake’s lights and cause them to be stuck in the On position. Ensure the braking system has sufficient fluid to use at all times.

You can do this by checking the master cylinder or fluid reservoir on the vehicle’s driver’s side. The fluid level should be within the maximum and minimum indicators. If not, flush out the old fluid before pouring the new one inside the reservoir.

Frequently Asked Question

– Why Are Your Rear Lights Staying on When the Ignition Is Off?

Your rear lights are staying on when the ignition is off due to a defective brake warning switch or a broken stopper. The tail lights will stay on when you have a damaged pedal, blown-out light bulbs, corroded brake components, or circuitry problems.

Can Yellowing Headlights Cause My Brake Lights to Stay On?

Yellowing headlights are a common problem that can affect visibility at night. However, they don’t directly cause brake lights to stay on. This issue could be due to a faulty brake light switch or wiring problem. To address yellowing headlights, consider polishing them or using restoration kits, as they offer causes and solutions for yellowing headlights.


Having read this article and the tips and tricks for solving the issue, you now know why your brake lights stay on while driving or after turning off the engine.

Here’s a summary of what we have discussed so far:

  • You should clean a stuck brake pedal of dirt, debris, and corroded materials since these can cause the brake lights to stay on.
  • A faulty stopper or a defective brake bulb can turn on the brake light, so you should replace them with new ones.
  • A broken striker can cause the brake signal lights to come on while you’re driving, so you should have a mechanic repair or reposition it.
  • Detach the battery to prevent energy from draining away while the brake light is switched on.

You must now know what to do if your brakes light don’t turn off, so fix your vehicle today!

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