Everyone knows how important it is to have their brakes and taillights functional all the time. These electronic automobile components warn other drivers—especially the ones behind you—that you are either stopping or slowing down. The brake lights are activated through a switch which is activated when the driver steps on the brake pedal.
When your brake lights are not functioning properly, however, this problem could lead to untoward circumstances. Should this happen, the least of your concerns would be an infraction or a fix-it-ticket from the police. You’ll be wise to have your brake lights fixed to avoid the likelihood of an accident or worse.
One of the common brake light concerns is that the lights stay on all the time even though you have taken your foot off the pedal. Even if you are not out on the street driving, those lights can drain the car battery, so it’s better that you resolve the issue immediately.
If you are currently encountering this problem, the first thing you need to do is to remove the negative terminal of the battery before you start working on the brake pedal. The steps you need to do to fix this dilemma are as follows:
1. Examine the Brake Light Switch
The first thing you need to do when the brake lights do not turn off is to check the brake light switch. The brake light switch is located above the brake pedal and attached to the brake arm lever. This device is held in place with a pair of bolts.
Generally, the brake light switch is connected to two small components called a contact plate and a brake light switch stopper or grommet. This analogue switch works by sending out an electronic signal to illuminate the lights. The brake light switch activates when the brake light rubber stopper, also known as a grommet, presses down against the button of the switch.
- While checking the brake pedal, ensure that the lever and the other components attached to it are clean and free of any dirt or debris. Sometimes, though it’s uncommon, the problem can be solved by the simple act of cleaning.
2. Check the Grommet
See if the grommet is still in place, and make sure it has not shown any signs of wear. Often, the reason why the brake lights do not turn off is because of a worn-out grommet. In case this component is missing, search the floorboard for any plastic material as the stopper may have broken into several pieces and fallen off. Without this tiny object, nothing is pushing against the button of the switch.
That’s because when the button of the brake light switch is pressed, the brake lights are off. In this scenario, you have nothing pressing down on the brake pedal. On the other hand, if something is pressing down on the pedal, the button of the switch is not pressed down, so the brake lights are on. For that matter, make sure that the grommet is present and the button is pushing squarely at it.
- While checking for the brake light switch and grommet, verify if the brake pedal is aligned correctly. There are instances in which the brake pedal is in an incorrect position, so the switch does not press down against the grommet.
- Brake light switch grommets or stoppers are also known as brake light stop pads, brake pedal stop pads, or pedal switch bumpers. Though they sure come in different names, these thingamajigs have a single purpose in your car: to keep the brake lights of your car turned off when your foot is not pushing the pedal down.
3. Installing a New Grommet
If you find out that the brake light stopper is broken, it is recommended that you install a new one. You can purchase a stock grommet online or in any automotive shop near your place. Before installing the new stopper, make sure that you have read the instructions carefully.
Depending on the type of material, some plastic grommets should be dipped in water for a few minutes before installation. That’s because you will need the brake light switch stopper in a soft, soggy state so you can fit the device into the contact plate.
The brake light stoppers or grommets come in different forms: rubber, plastic, and silicone. Regardless of the material, be sure to read the instructions enclosed in the product packaging so you know how to install the brake light grommet. That’s because each car uses a different type of brake light stop pad.
4. Replacing the Brake Light Switch
When replacing the brake light stopper, chances are, you will have to install a new brake light switch. Before you begin, make sure that the car battery is disconnected to avoid any accident.
Gently pull the electronic connector attached to the brake light switch. Afterwards, loosen the bolts using the correct type of spanner wrench when dismantling the device. When installing the new brake light switch, make sure the bolts are tightened properly. A loosely or improperly installed brake light switch will not function correctly. When you’re done with the bolts, reattach the electronic connector to the other end of the brake light switch.
- Not all cars have the same type of brake light switch design. In some car models, you may have to use either a flat-head or Philips screwdriver to unfasten the brake light switch more than a pair of screws. In that case, have a complete set of tools ready before removing the worn-out brake light switch and installing a new one.
- If you encounter this problem while on the road, you can make a makeshift solution if you cannot do not have an extra stop pad at hand. Some owners have claimed to use a quick-fix remedy that they have picked up online. These solutions may range from a screw inserted into the contact plate as well as a taped penny.
However, you should purchase a stopper or brake light switch as soon as possible and have these components installed immediately to prevent any problems or complications to your braking system.
5. Reconnect the Power
After installing a new grommet and a brake light switch, you can reattach the battery cable to the terminal. Make sure that the cable is tight to avoid electric power problems. Start the vehicle and check if the brake lights are working correctly.
With the newly brake pedal stop pad and brake light switch in place, the brake lights should not go off. If they still do, however, chances are the brake light switch was not the issue. You may have to enlist the expertise of a car mechanic to diagnose and solve your brake light problem.
Indeed, fixing brake lights can be a daunting task. However, with these five simple steps, you can resolve the issue and save a lot of money in the process. Apart from that, you can help other people who have the same problem and have no idea what to do by being in the know. What’s more, you have avoided running into complications caused by a pair of brake lights that will not turn off.