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Here’re the signs that call for a brake light switch replacement:
When you hit your brake pedal, your car’s brake lights should turn on. But, if a brake light bulb has burnt out or there’s a faulty brake light switch, the light won’t illuminate.
Without the brake light, the vehicle behind you won’t know that you’re slowing down. This can be a major safety hazard.
Sometimes, your brake light might not turn off, even when you’ve removed your foot from the brake pedal. The chances are that there’s a short circuit in the light switch.
With the brake light stuck on, the driver behind you will get confused, thinking that you intend to slow down, even when you’re accelerating.
Moreover, if your brake light stays on for long, it can damage the brake lamp and blow up the brake light fuse in the fuse box.
You may sometimes fail to notice that your brake lamp is stuck on, especially during the day.
You should get your brake light and switch inspected to rule out the cause of the battery drain.
Some cars offer keyless ignition, where you need to press down on the brake pedal to start the vehicle. Similarly, in cars with automatic transmission, you need to press the brake to shift the gear selector out of Park.
However, when your vehicle has a faulty brake light switch, you’ll not be able to do either.
The brake switch is responsible for sending a signal to your car’s computer that the brake is engaged. When it’s not functioning, pressing the ignition switch won’t turn on your car, and you won’t be able to shift the gear.
If your vehicle supports cruise control, a defective brake light switch can deactivate the system.
Your cruise control and the rear brake light may share the same switch. So, when the brake light switch fails, cruise control comes to a halt too.
However, the cruise control may also stop working due to a damaged speed sensor or a blown fuse in the ECM.
If you’re experiencing trouble with your cruise control, have your mechanic inspect the brake light switch as well.
When the ABS (Anti-lock Braking System) warning light of your vehicle comes on, it could indicate:
The brake light switch signals the ABS module that the brakes are engaged, and it should start the hydraulic pump. So, if the ABS warning light (Check Engine light) is illuminated, it may be due to a defective brake switch.
You can be charged anywhere between $60 and $250, including labor costs.
However, this cost could vary depending on:
If you own an automotive with a push-button start, and you happen to have a bad switch, your car won’t start.
In that case, you’ll need to get the faulty light switch replaced with a new switch at the earliest.
If your brake light is stuck on or off, you’ll still need to replace the brake light switch soon as it’s also illegal to drive a car with faulty brake lights. You may get ticketed for it and end up paying a hefty fine.
However, you can easily get your brake light switch tested and replaced by a mobile mechanic or at your nearest auto repair shop.
Here’re answers to some common brake light switch questions:
A brake light switch (also known as a stop light switch or brake lamp switch) is a spring-loaded electrical component responsible for turning your brake lights on and off.
How does it work?
Your car’s brake lights (tail lights) need a power connection from the car battery to work. The brake light switch controls this current flow when you engage the brake lever.
When you push the brake lever (brake pedal arm), a switch plunger (under the steering wheel) moves along the pedal and closes the light switch circuit. The current flows and the brake light illuminates.
Likewise, the switch plunger depresses when you release the pedal, the circuit breaks, and the lights turn off.
In many modern cars, the stoplight switch also:
Unlike a brake pad, you expect a light switch to last longer. However, this switch is also prone to wear and tear, as it utilizes a mechanical switch plunger.
Since the switch body is close to a driver’s feet, it can come in contact with dust, dirt, or water, causing the switch to malfunction. This may also lead to a blown brake light fuse.
The chances of light switch failure further increase in stop-and-go traffic since the brake lights are constantly engaged.
As the stoplight switch is a critical component of your brake pedal assembly, it’s recommended to replace it as soon as possible.
While it’s possible to replace a bad old switch as a DIY, it isn’t recommended.
A faulty replacement can compromise your road safety.
Instead, you could take your car to a car repair shop or request a mobile mechanic to install the replacement switch right in your driveway.
Before replacing a stop light switch, they may use a multimeter first for testing and troubleshooting the voltage at the electrical connector when the brake pedal is pressed and released. A car’s service manual may also recommend testing the switch continuity when the pedal is depressed and released.
If the issue is a faulty switch, they can quickly replace it with a new one.
Here’s how a mechanic will replace a bad switch:
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