The Collins Dictionary defines a vehicle’s brake lights, also known as taillights, as a red light attached to the rear of a motor vehicle that lights up when the brakes are applied, serving as a warning to following drivers. Brake lights are sometimes referred to as “spotlight.” This is a simple but very important part of your vehicle as it alerts other road users that you are slowing down or stopping.
However, the brake lights should turn off when you turn off your car. You’re right to be worried if your car’s brake lights stay on after turning off the car. Not only is it important that your brake lights are in proper working order especially when you hit the road, but the brake also lights not turning off after you’ve turned the ignition switch to “OFF” will drain your vehicle’s battery.
Why Are Your Brake Lights Staying On?
The brake light is one of the most important safety features on your car, which is why you shouldn’t waste time getting it fixed if it develops a problem. Whether the spotlight comes on while you’re driving without you applying the brake or the lights stay on after you’ve turned off the ignition switch, you need to contact your local mechanic immediately.
But it doesn’t hurt to learn about what may be responsible for the brake light staying on after turning off the car and what you can do to fix it. We’ll talk about all that in this article. To better understand what’s going on, you might need to grasp how taillights (brake lights or spotlights) work. Brake lights are simply a switch that turns on the bulbs when pressure is applied on the brake pedal. So you see, the most likely reasons for the brake lights staying on are:
- Brake assembly problems
- Circuit errors
- Low brake fluid level
There are other reasons for this problem, but the three above are the most common. Now, we’re going to give you a list of what you can do to fix the problem of brake lights staying on when turning off the car.
How to Fix Brake Lights That Won’t Turn Off After Turning Off Car
Here are steps you can take to fix the problem of brake lights staying on when turning off the car. Before we go any further, let me say it again that it’s advisable to visit your local qualified automobile technician to check out and fix your vehicle’s brake light problems. I’ll show you what you can do to resolve this issue, but you should only attempt doing them yourself if you know what you’re doing.
Detach the Car Battery
It makes sense to disconnect the car’s battery to avoid battery drain if the brake lights won’t turn off after you turn off the engine. Of course, this is just a temporary fix until you can identify where the problem is coming from or met with a qualified auto mechanic.
Check The Brake Light Switch for Damage
The Brake Light Switch is part of your vehicle’s braking system, including the ABS and cruise control systems. It is the electrical switch that turns on the brake lights when pressure is applied to the brake pad.
Now, what you want to do at this time is locate the brake pedal switch and disconnect the wiring pigtail to inspect it for damage. Remember, the brake light switch is an electrical component, so make sure to disconnect the battery to avoid shock or damage before doing any work here.
Install A New Brake Light Switch
As explained earlier, the brake light switch is responsible for supplying power or turning on the bulbs of your vehicle’s rear signal lights. As it is a two-way mechanism that completes the brake light’s circuit in your car’s electrical system, you should replace it if you find it’s damaged.
Replace Blown Fuses
You want to check out the vehicle’s Ignition Off-Draw (IOD) fuses. This part may be a bit tricky as the various vehicle makes and models require a different approach. You will need your car owner’s manual to determine which fuse box has the blown fuse. If you find that the problem is a blown fuse, then it just needs to be replaced.
Keep Your Brake Pedal Bumper Functional
The Brake Pedal Bumper is a small stopper that initiates the process of turning off the brake lights when the brake pedal is not depressed. The brake pedal bumper does this by pushing in the brake light switch.
The thing is that this small stopper is usually made of plastic and prone to wear. If you’ve noticed blue or yellow plastic pieces beneath the pedals on your vehicle’s floorboard, you most likely need to replace the brake pedal bumper to fix the problem of taillight staying on.
Replace Burnt-Out Bulbs
The problem of brake light staying on could be a simple case of burnt-out bulbs because all that brake pumping takes a toll on the brake light over time. Sometimes, the wear and tear lead to brake lights not coming on, while in other cases the light stays stuck on. Vehicles with traditional light bulbs are more prone to this development than their LED lights counterparts.
Keep Your Brake Pedal Dirt-Free
Just like a defective brake pedal bumper can affect the functioning of the braking lights, a dirty brake pedal can also lead to brake lights problems. This is because dirt or corrosion between the pedal and brake switch, or a damaged brake pedal bumper, can prevent the brake switch from closing properly, leading to the brake lights staying on. So, ensure to keep the brake pedal debris and corrosion-free.
Ensure The Brake Pedal Pushes The Switch Correctly
By now, you already know that though the brake light is part of your vehicle’s electrical system, not every brake light problems are due to an electrical fault. A case in point is a misaligned brake pedal switch that can result in the brake light getting stuck.
You can figure out if this is the case by tracing your hands from the pedal arm under the dashboard up to the pedal switch to determine if the switch is properly aligned with the arm and pushed to turn off the brake lights. If readjusting the alignment fails to fix the problem, you probably have a faulty spring or switch or a short in the brake circuit wiring.
Make Sure To Have Clean Brake Sockets
A faulty brake lights socket can result in stuck brake lights or random flashing due to intermittent connection. A faulty brake light socket can be caused by corrosion, dirt, or worn-out wiring. So, again, you want to keep the brake sockets free of corrosion and dirt, or you can just replace them. A brake socket is inexpensive and easy to install.
Do Not Short Your BCM
Yep, you don’t want a misfiring BCM (Body Control Module), also commonly known as the automotive central body control module. Your vehicle’s BCM is a computerized power distribution center responsible for functions related to your car’s body, such as windshield wipers, windows, security, door locks and access control, and of course- lights.
Naturally, a malfunctioning BCM can leave the brake lights stuck on. You can know there’s a problem with a vehicle’s BCM from a “Check Engine” light that should be on but isn’t or is on but isn’t. You can also know from a malfunctioning of the related car components like windshield wipers and brake lights. Owners of older vehicles models lacking a BCM need not worry about this issue.
Have Sufficient Brake Fluid
This one is a no-brainer. Low levels of brake fluids affect the performance of a vehicle’s braking system, including the brake lights. You may want to get rid of old brake fluids before introducing a new one to the fluid reservoir.
Disengage Your Parking Brake
This sounds like an obvious one but are you sure you have disengaged your parking brake? The parking brake, also known as Emergency Brake, operates independently from the foot pedal-based brake, also known as primary brakes. While the pedal brake slows or stops a vehicle in motion, the parking brake is designed to hold the car in place. If engaged, the brake lights will stay on.