Modern cars are equipped with all sorts of sensors and indicator lights to help you identify and deal with potential problems in a safe and timely manner. One of those warning systems is the brake indicator light. Typically a red circle enclosed in parentheses with an exclamation point in the middle, this light is a serious warning and should be treated as such. You'll need to have your brake system serviced right away, and may even need to have the car towed to transport it safely. Here are some things to check when you see this light come on.
Brake Fluid Condition
Since the brake system warning light is triggered by sensors that monitor brake fluid pressure, you'll want to start by checking the condition of the brake fluid in your car. If the fluid is burnt, dirty, or otherwise contaminated, that can affect the pressure reading. Brake fluid is usually light in color, and it should smell clean, not heavy or burnt. If it has a foul odor, that's a sign that the brake system is getting too hot and the fluid has been compromised.
Brake Fluid Level
If you have a brake fluid leak of any kind, the drop in your brake fluid level is going to trip that pressure sensor. When the fluid level drops, so will the system pressure. The lower hydraulic pressure in the brake system can actually lead to brake failure, especially if you have a leak and run completely out of brake fluid. Check your brake fluid level and schedule a brake service right away if it's low so your mechanic can find and address the source of the leak.
Brake Pad Wear
Brake pads naturally wear over time, so they need to be replaced periodically. When the pads start to wear down, it can actually reduce the fluid level and pressure in the system. If your brake warning indicator is on, you need to check the condition of the brake pads and have them replaced if they are worn. Once they are replaced, top off the brake fluid as well to restore the system pressure.
Understanding the potential problems that your brake indicator light can be alerting you to is the first step to ensuring your car's braking safety. Talk with a brake service technician at a company like George's Eastside Shell today to have any braking problems addressed so that you don't risk complete brake failure on the road.