Dashboard break light odd behavior


Asked by Vaiks Jul 07, 2009 at 11:37 PM about the 1998 Honda Accord EX

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

I have a 1998 4 cilinder Accord EX and I have a problem with my dashboard break light.

A few seconds after I start the car the light goes on. The parking break is released, the break fluid is OK and the break lights are all working.

The light stays on while driving but when I apply the brakes the light goes off. When I release the breaks, the ligth goes on. This behavior stays all the time while the car is on.

Teh brake pedal responds OK (not too hard or too deep) and the fluid is on the max mark. There are no brake fluid drops bellow the car on the garage and breaking performance is ok. ABS working normally.

I'm lost and can't figure out what is going on.

4 Answers

Mike Bonnell

First of all - Well described PROBLEM and you should be comended as 90% of posters do not post enough information to diagnose squat. The brake light and ABS light work in tandem.By your description the ABS light is working properly yet the brake light stays illuminated when the car starts and the goes out when the brake is depressed is my understanding. ( I would asume that this is not the LAMP OUT indicator - Right ?? ) If its not the lamp out indicator light and is the brake light ( The same one when the Ebrake is pulled ) then I would assume a few things. A bad brake light switch on the pedal - Disconnect it and see if the light is OUT when you start the vehicle. If its out then the switch is probably shorted internally. If its stays on then there is an external factor - possible the light sensors in each of the rear brake light assemblies. These are known to go bad with water intrusion. With brake light switch connected check to see if ALL three brake lights are working - EVEN the third brake light. If one of them lights are out then you have probably found yer culprit - the rear lighting sensors putting your light on and will have to be addressed at the light that is not working. Hope this helps and good luck

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.
Dan Jennings

There is a float on the cap that goes on the reservoir above the master cylinder. If the fluid is just a bit low the light will go on. To be on the safe side, don't assume that you're brakes are getting worn, take it in to make sure that there isn't a brake line getting ready to go out on you. You don't want to loose your brakes right....

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
Dan Jennings

Let me explain a little bit more. As the brake pads get worn. the fluid level drops because there's more space in the braking system, so the fluid leaves the reservoir to keep the brake lines & brake cylinders full. When this happens, the float in the reservoir cap drops. This activates the light on the dash. Follow what Mike says then check what I've said. Now one thing to know, brake leaks are not the same as a radiator hose that has a small leak. When a brake line starts to leak, you'll know because your foot will keep on going to the floor. If you put a small amount of brake fluid into the reservoir & the light goes out & assuming that you have a good emergency brake, just drive through your neighborhood, not on busy main roads. If the light should go on again, have someone follow you up to the place you do business at if it's right around the corner. If not, have it towed or get 2-4 car ramps to drive up on so you can get under the car. "Honda's sit low". If the lines all look good, [dry], Next check the wheels for fresh oil on the inside & the outside of the tires. On a 1998 Honda Accord, you have front disc brakes. If the caliper has started to leak from a seal going bad, you might be able to see it when looking at the wheel from under the car. If not, you'll need to take the tires off one at a time. As for the rear's, you'll have the older style drums, not disc type brakes. You usually have to take the car it for the drums to be removed. At any rate id you follow what Mike has said in his post, then you followed what I have said, adding an ounce or two, maybe three & the light stay's out, then your front brakes are wearing down & you should be looking to have your front pads replaced & the rotor's either turned or replaced. [New rotors cost about $17.00 each at most auto parts stores & the complete rotor & pads for the front can run around $45.00-$65.00] That's for the do it your selfers... Good luck & hope I was able to help you out.... Dan

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
Tom Mulari

I have same issue except the light stays on even e brake is down all lights work and fluid is full but it's not going out when brake is pressed but when I push my clutch to shift it goes out I release clutch and light comes back on...why...also when I push my clutch to start my car my headlights and dash lights will flash I release pedal and the stop it does it till I start car also driving down the road my car will entirely shut down..lights and everything motor too then kick back on ....why is my car doing this I have a 1995 accord ex coupe 2.2 sohc vtec

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