Brake Light Comes On And Off: Causes And Solutions

What should you do when your brake light comes on and off?

This is a common problem, but not everyone understands and knows how to deal with it. Is it dangerous and in need of immediate repair?

Don’t worry, even if you don’t have any experience. We are here to help! The most common causes of problems and how to fix them will be revealed in the next sections.

About Brake Light

brake light comes on and off
Brake Light

What Is It?

Before knowing why the brake light is flashing, spend time learning more about these lights. A good understanding of how it works will streamline  your fixing process.

This is the oldest light on many vehicles, alerting the driver that the emergency/parking brake is applied.

In this manner, the parking/emergency brake won’t be used when operating the vehicle.

How Does It Work?

Your brakes are made up of hydraulic oil-filled tubes called lines. A master cylinder is a pump located at one end of the network.

The master cylinder is activated when you hit the brake pedal, and the brake lines fluid is put under pressure. Its calipers are located at the opposite end of the network of lines.

Your brake calipers are hydraulic clamping devices that drive pads up against rotating rotors, slowing and stopping your car.

What About The Brake Pad Wear Indicator Light?

The pad wear indicator light is the newest member of the family of brake warning lights when you press the pedal.

Friction material from the pads holds the brake rotor. Over time, that friction substance deteriorates.

When your pads are getting close to their minimum thickness, tiny sensors recognize it and turn on the dash light to alert you that it’s time for maintenance.

Make careful to get servicing as soon as possible if you spot any of these system warning lights on your dashboard.

Even if they are not urgent, a parking brake and the pad wear indicator light should be checked.

So why is my brake light going on and off? Now, it’s time to find the answer.

Brake Light Comes On And Off: Common Causes

my brake light keeps coming on and off
What Is The Common Reason Brake Light Comes On And Off

Why is my brake light coming on and off? There are a variety of reasons for this matter; however, you can take a look at the eight most common below:

  • Low brake fluid
  • The emergency brake is on.
  • Electrical issue
  • Leaking brake
  • Malfunction anti-lock braking system
  • Worn brake pads
  • Failed master cylinder sensor
  • Brake light bulb issues

Low Brake Fluid

Low brake fluid is one of the most common reasons why your brake light goes on and off.

The dashboard’s general light may indicate it. This is denoted in certain automobiles by a yellow circle. Besides, there is an exclamation mark (!) in the center.

Even though the fluid is low, the vehicle still has enough fluid to work when the light is yellow. See a mechanic or expert if it becomes red.

Moreover, a flashing red light may hint at little or no liquid, which poses a major problem for the hydraulic system of the brakes.

Should the light persist, you could experience a potentially catastrophic failure, which could have far-reaching effects beyond your bank account when it occurs at the wrong time and place.

So remember to flush the brake fluid regularly!

The Emergency Brake Is On

When your brake light keeps on and off while driving, your emergency brake may unintentionally be engaged. This is another possible explanation for your light flashing on and off while driving.

You can test the emergency one when stopped to see whether this is the case. If the light turns off, you’ll know what caused the brake failure.

Electrical Issue

Why does my brake light keep coming on and off? If the light on your car flashes on and off while you’re driving, there might be an electrical problem.

This can be an issue with the wiring, a fuse, or even a sensor.

It’s advisable to take your car to a mechanic for evaluation and repair if you detect some accessories (lights, radio, AC, etc.) in your car are at fault. That’s why the brake light on dash comes on and off.

Leaking Brake

Consider getting your brakes checked for fluid leaks if the dashboard light issue is fixed after you replace or refill the brake fluid in case of the brake light going on and off later.

A brake leak will need to be identified and fixed by an automotive specialist.

Nevertheless, depending on where the leak is located and whether or not the brake system has received additional damage, the fix is typically simple and inexpensive.

Malfunctioning Anti-Lock Brake System

Why does my brake light come on and off? Inspect your anti-lock braking system!

A broken ABS is yet another probable cause of intermittent light. The ABS helps prevent your car from sliding or skidding when braking on slick roads.

The light could illuminate if the ABS is malfunctioning. Sometimes, the ABS warning light will turn on by itself.

If this is the case, it is best to bring your car to a professional or dealership for diagnosis and repair.

Worn Brake Pads

If the brake light turns on and off, replacing pads is a worth-considering solution.

This more prevalent problem is comparatively simple to check on your own by simply looking through the holes in your wheels.

They must be replaced if they appear worn out. When braking, you can also listen for screeching sounds. This is frequently a sign that your brake pads need to be replaced since they are worn.

Failed Master Cylinder Sensors

Your car’s brakes receive hydraulic pressure from the brake master cylinder. The light may flash intermittently if there are defective sensors in the master cylinder.

It can be the fluid sensor or a sensor found inside the parking brake. In any case, a mechanic will be required to identify and fix the problem.

With an OBD-II reader, you might be able to scan the codes yourself and answer, why does the brake light come on and off?.

Brake Light Bulb Issues

When a brake light goes on and off while driving, it can be a sign of light bulb issues.

Some automobile computers keep an eye on the rear brake light, which may be a single bulb or an array of LED bulbs.

It may come on if a bulb burns out or dims. This is especially useful because it can assist in avoiding rear-end collisions.

After all, drivers frequently aren’t aware that their rear brake lights aren’t functioning.

What Should I Do When The Brake Light Is On?

why does my brake light come on and off
How To Do If The Brake Light Is On

It Turns On Before Driving

When my brake light keeps coming on and off, what should I do? Don’t risk operating the vehicle if you’ve just started it and you see the warning light.

Some automobiles have a combined parking brake and braking system warning light.

Make sure your parking brake is fully disengaged by checking it and pulling on the release lever.

If the light is still on, your vehicle’s brake system may be malfunctioning and making it difficult for you to stop.

It Turns On When You’re Driving

Keep an eye on your brake pedal when the brake light comes on while you’re driving. Your pedal action could feel different if the braking system leaks brake fluid.

Should there be insufficient brake fluid, you can top it off. However, it’s still crucial to get a brake checkup as soon as you can.

Notes on topping off the brake fluid:

  • Be careful not to cross the “FULL” line.
  • Use the proper DOT kind of brake fluid.
  • Brake fluid is poisonous and can ruin your paint, so use with caution.

How To Test A Brake Light? 

Consider the brake light as your best friend trying to warn you that you might be operating a vehicle without brakes.

However, if the warning light isn’t operational, it won’t be able to convey its message, so take note the following: 

  • If you activate your turn signals or emergency flashers but the bulbs don’t illuminate, that light bulb might not be functioning.
  • Back up near a wall at night and apply the brakes. If the lights are on, you can see the red glow on the wall.
  • While you inspect the vehicle’s rear, have someone press the brake pedal. Whatever the lighting setup, there should be at least 2 lamps.
  • Making a simple note to check all of your bulbs every time you change your oil is not a bad idea.

The warning lights do not have fixed locations, but you can become acquainted with them in your car by reading the owner’s manual.

Keep in mind that whenever your warning light is not functioning, it cannot alert you to any risk. If it’s not working, check your manual to find out which bulb needs to be changed.


When To Replace The Brake Pad? How Much Does It Cost?

Your brake pads come into contact with the rotors when depressing the pedal. Your car stops due to friction.

The brake pads will gradually lose effectiveness due to this process, eventually requiring replacement. These parts typically last between three and five years or roughly 40,000 to 50,000 miles.

The replacement price, which includes parts and labor, averages out to about $150 per axle. However, your overall expenses may change based on the caliber of the pads you choose for your car.

How To Check The Fluid Level When Brake Light Is On?

How to diagnose if the brake light keeps coming on and off

  • The vehicle’s braking fluid reservoir should be located on the master cylinder. 
  • Outside the pool, there should be “minimum” and “maximum” lines.
  • Compare these lines to the brake fluid level. You need a fluid change if the brake fluid is near the minimum line.
  • Look at the brake fluid to see what color it is. A brake fluid flush is required when it turns dark brown or black and looks like oil.

How Often Does Brake Fluid Need To Be Replaced?

An average brake fluid flush is required every two years or 30,000 miles. Your driving habits have a big impact on routine maintenance.

For instance, you could need more frequent brake fluid flushes if you typically drive shorter routes with more regular braking.

Sign to replace your brake fluid:

  • The brake light coming on and off
  • Bouncy, spongy, or soft brake pedal
  • Braking performance is ineffective
  • Strange smell and noise when braking

How To Change The Rear Brake Light Bulb?

  • You must first take the lens housing out of the vehicle. Be careful to store the screws safely, as you will never want to lose them.
  • The complete bulb assembly, or housing, can be removed from its opening.
  • Your brake light uses a plug to keep the bulbs in place. Follow the wiring behind the light you need to replace to find the bulb holder, which you should unscrew or, more accurately, pull out.
  • Your bulb either requires a quarter turn or pulls out straight like most bulbs.
  • Replace the damaged bulb with the new one.
  • Put everything back in its proper position, then cross this maintenance task off your list until later.


In general, if your brake light comes on and off, it’s advisable to diagnose the cause as soon as possible.

As mentioned above, in some cases, you can fix this situation easily at home.

However, for more serious ones, it would be better to drive your car to the service center and get help from a professional mechanic.

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