Top Causes Of Car Brake Lamp Malfunction

Top Causes Of Car Brake Lamp Malfunction

When most drivers think of issues with their braking system, they imagine themselves speeding down a hill with no way to stop their vehicles.

The image they conjure in their mind’s eyes is terrible, but a failure in their car’s braking system is a worst-case scenario, and it should always be avoided.

Car brake lamp malfunction

But few people imagine their brake lights malfunctioning. This image is nowhere near as exciting.

But car brake lamp malfunctions are far more common than brake failures, and they can be just as fatal in the right circumstances.

What Would Cause A Car’s Brake Lamp To Malfunction?

The brake light system within a vehicle is relatively simple. There’s a switch attached to the brakes.

This switch signals the brake lights to turn on when the driver presses down on the brakes.

Then the brake lights send a signal to the car’s computer system indicating that the lights are on.

But a car’s brake lamps can malfunction if the wiring is bad, the sensors become old, or the car’s computer system is glitching.

The Causes And Solutions That Cause A Brake Lamp To Malfunction

Here are a few common brake light problems that most drivers will experience.

A Warning Light On The Dashboard Says The Car Brake Lamps Are Malfunctioning, But Everything Looks Fine

Sometimes, a car’s brake lights will work perfectly, but the dashboard lights will say there is a problem.

In this case, there is an issue with the dashboard light, and to fix this issue, the dashboard warning lights need to be reset.

The Brake Light Randomly Turns Off And On When The Brakes Are In Use

In this case, a car’s brake lamps could malfunction because they are loose. If the bulbs have been replaced recently, they were set in the socket incorrectly.

Fixing this issue is relatively easy, and the car owner can even do it in their driveway. All they need to do is:

  • Turn off the car
  • Then take off the plastic shield that covers the bulb off
  • Unscrew the bulbs until they are out of the socket
  • Now is an excellent time to clean any dirt or grime out of the socket and around the light
  • Then place the bulbs back into the sockets and tighten them until they cannot move anymore
  • Then place the plastic shield back into the brake light and secure it

A Car’s Malfunctioning Brake Lamp Could Be A Design Flaw And There Might Be A Recall On The Car

Occasionally, car manufacturers will put out recalls on a particular model so the owners can return it to the dealership to have it checked.

You can always check online if there is a recall on your car. One car company that has an unusually high number of recalls is Toyota.

If you have a Toyota and your car brake lamp starts to malfunction, check its recall status.

If there is a recall on your car, take it in as soon as possible. The warranty could run out if you wait too long, and the manufacturer will no longer fix your recalled car.

The Car’s Computer System Needs To Be Reset

Like the issue with the dashboard, a car’s computer system can have a glitch and falsely alert the driver that the car’s brake lamp is malfunctioning.

Glitches can cause warning signals to go off even if everything is fine.

Depending on the make and model of the car, the drivers themselves can reboot their car’s computer system.

If they cannot do it themselves, they can take it to a mechanic who can do it for them.

The Bulb Is About To Die Out

Now this reason is why the dashboard light exists. When a car’s brake lamp begins to malfunction, it’s getting old and needs to be replaced.

Replacing the brake lamp bulbs is not expensive. The bulbs usually cost less than $10 for both of them.

If the computer system says that only one bulb is not working, go ahead and replace both bulbs.

Replacing both bulbs will make it easy to track when they need to be replaced again.

Car brake lamp malfunction GÇô causes & solutions

There Is An Issue With The Brake Light Switch. How To Test For It

Despite owning a single vehicle for five or more years, most people do not know much about their car.

When their car’s brake lamp starts to malfunction, they would instead take their car to a mechanic.

They need to ask the mechanic to find and fix the problem and then pay them their fee.

However, brake light issues are relatively simple to diagnose.

With the right tool, even someone who doesn’t have much experience with cars can learn what is causing their car brake light to malfunction.

To diagnose the issue yourself, you will need a multimeter. The purpose of a multimeter is to check the number of volts running through an electrical wire.

A car’s brake light switch system has two wires. The first wire allows the electricity to flow to the lights, and the other wire sends the electricity away from the lights.

To test if the issue causing the car’s brake lamp to malfunction is the switch, take the multimeter tool and locate the brake light switch.

Manufacturers usually place the brake light switch near the brake pedal.

  • Please turn on the car but leave it in park
  • Place the multimeter on the brake light switch
  • Press down on the brakes
  • Check the level of voltage with the multimeter. It should hold steady until you take your foot off the brake pedal.

There are two ways to test if the issue is with the switch.

The first issue is that there is not enough electricity flowing through the switch system.

The second issue could be that there is no power flowing through the switch system.

If there is no electricity, the fuse is blown, and they need to be replaced.

If there is a small amount of electricity but not as much as there should be, there is an issue with the wiring.

The Intricate Parts Of A Vehicles Brake Light System

Like the engine or the steering, a car’s brake lights have a connected system.

Each part of the system is vital to the function of the car and the safety of the driver and the other drivers on the road.

There are five integral parts of a vehicle’s brake light system. These parts are:

  • The brake light bulbs
  • The bulb sockets that the bulbs go into
  • The plastic covering that goes over the bulb and socket
  • The wiring that transfers the electricity from the engine to the bulbs
  • The brake light sensor/switch that turns on the driver steps on the brakes and then informs the car’s computer system that the brakes are in use


There are several reasons why a car’s brake lamp would malfunction, and most of these issues are not expensive to repair.

The most common reason a car’s brake light is not working is that the bulbs are loose.

The most expensive reason is the wiring has short-circuited and requires replacement.

It could also involve a recall issue, or the wires are no longer attached to the bulb socket.

The other reasons why a car’s brake lamp would malfunction are: the electrical sensor is not working and needs to be reset.

The bulb is dying out and must be replaced. You can test if the switch fuse is blown by using a multimeter.