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Brake Light Switches: Ultimate Guide (2021)

March 25, 2021

Curious about what the brake light switch is and how to repair it?

A brake light switch is an electrical switch that turns your brake lights on when you hit the brakes.

It’s an integral part of your braking system and lets the driver behind you know that you’re slowing down. It also has a direct influence on your ABS, cruise control system, and more.

In this article, we’ll discuss what a brake light switch is and help you identify the symptoms of a faulty switch. We’ll then look at how often you’ll need to replace the brake light switch and how much it’ll cost. Finally, we’ll highlight the best way to keep your brake light switch in check.

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Let’s get started.

What Is A Brake Light Switch?

The brake light switch is a small component near the brake pedal responsible for activating your car’s brake lights. 

How does it work?

When you press down on the brake, the brake light switch turns on the brake lights at the rear of your vehicle. Essentially, it lets the driver behind know that you intend to slow down.

In modern cars, the brake lamp switch also:

What Are The Symptoms Of A Faulty Brake Light Switch?

While brake light switches are designed to last as long as your vehicle, they might turn faulty over time. In case you experience any of these symptoms, consider replacing the defective brake light switch:

1. Your Brake Lights Don’t Light Up

Your brake lights are supposed to turn on when you push down on the brake pedal, giving a heads up to the driver behind you.

If your brake switch malfunctions, the rear brake lights won’t illuminate, and the driver behind you won’t know that you’re slowing down, causing a major safety hazard.

Now, this could indicate that a brake light bulb in the rear has burnt out or that you’ve got a defective brake light switch. Consider getting a mechanic to inspect your car to quickly pinpoint the issue.

2. Brake Lights Stay On Continuously

If your brake lights stay illuminated even when you aren’t applying the brakes, the chances are that there’s a short in the electrical circuit within the rear brake light switch.

Continuously turned-on brake lights can confuse drivers behind you — while you could be driving normally, your taillight gives them the impression that you’re going to slow down.

Moreover, when your rear brake light stays on continuously, it can damage the brake lamp or bulb faster and drain out your car battery quickly.

When facing a brake light issue like this, it’s best to contact a mechanic to do an immediate brake light switch replacement before any other electrical parts get damaged.

3. Bad Cruise Control

If your vehicle comes with cruise control, a misaligned or bad brake light switch can deactivate it.

Why does that happen?

In many vehicles, the cruise control system and rear brake lights share the same switch. So if the brake lamp switch stops working, your cruise control would likely follow suit.

This doesn’t mean that the cruise control stops working only because of a brake light switch problem. It can also happen if you have a damaged speed sensor or a blown fuse in the electronic control module.

But it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

So when your cruise control malfunctions, have a mechanic inspect your brake light switch as well.

4. Car Won’t Turn On

Some cars support keyless ignition. 

To start the engine in these cars, all you need to do is press down on the brake pedal.

If your car doesn’t start, it could be because the brake light switch isn’t sending a specific signal to the car’s computer confirming that the brakes are engaged.

When this happens, immediately get in touch with a car repair service or mechanic to replace your brake light switch.

5. ABS Warning Light Comes On

When the ABS light on your dashboard turns on, it shows that you’ve got a problem with the anti-lock brake system.

Your ABS warning light flashing can indicate different things: 

The brake light switch sensor lets the ABS module in your car know when you’ve applied the brakes and indicates that it’s time to start the ABS hydraulic pump. That’s why if your ABS warning light comes on, there’s a chance that your faulty brake light switch is the culprit. 

How Often Should You Replace The Brake Light Switch

Unlike brake pads, brake light switches are expected to last as long as your vehicle.

With that being said, internal components within your brake switch can wear out over time, especially if your car uses a plunger-style mechanical switch for your brake lights.

Since the brake light switch is a critical component of road safety, it’s best to keep your brake light switch in check.

Moreover, if your vehicle has a push-button ignition switch that doesn’t turn on, you may need to immediately replace the bad switch to continue using your vehicle.

How Much Does Brake Light Switch Replacement Cost?

The cost of brake light switch replacements varies depending on the make and model of the vehicle.

However, unlike other significant repairs like master cylinder and brake line replacements, it’s typically not going to cost you a lot.

With most cars, you can expect to pay between $60 and $250.

For a more accurate estimate, just fill out this online form.

How To Replace Your Brake Light Switch

It’s possible to replace a bad brake light switch by yourself.

However, it isn’t recommended because the brake switch is a critical component of your braking system, so performing a replacement the wrong way can compromise your road safety.

Moreover, you’ll also need tools like a socket wrench, wire plier, screwdriver, multimeter, and more to get the job done effectively.

So it’s best if you take your car to a car repair or maintenance shop or request a mobile mechanic to come over to perform repairs in your driveway.

During a brake light switch replacement, a mechanic will:

1. Stop your car on a level platform on the ground.

2. Pull the brake lever to engage the parking brake.

3. Disconnect the wiring harness of your car battery.

4. Locate the brake light switch near the footwell — close to the pedal.

5. Carefully remove the panel or cover to access the defective brake light switch.

6. Disconnect and remove the wiring connector from the brake light switch.

7. Carefully install and align the new brake light switch.

8. Lock the brake light switch in place.

9. Reattach the panel to cover your rear brake light switch.

10. Reconnect the car battery.

11. Test and confirm that the brake light switch, rear brake lights, ABS, and cruise control systems are working as expected.

But where can you find a mechanic who can quickly replace your brake light switch at the right price?

The Best Way To Keep Your Brake Light Switch In Check

When you’re looking for a brake light switch repair, only opt for technicians that:

RepairSmith is the most convenient mobile car maintenance and repair solution that offers all of this and more.

Here’s why you should rely on RepairSmith for all your brake light switch repair and maintenance needs:

Faulty Brake Light Switch = Safety Hazard

A faulty brake light switch can cause serious safety hazards.

So if you notice that your brake light switch is failing or has stopped working entirely, get your brake light switch inspected ASAP.

Fortunately, keeping your brake light switch in check is a breeze with RepairSmith.

Just book your repair online, and certified mobile technicians perform brake light switch repairs right in your driveway — you no longer have to take your car to an auto repair shop!