why does the brake light on dashboard stay on?

Asked by Feb 14, 2007 at 06:51 PM about the 1997 Toyota Camry LE

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

26 Answers


Hello maam-- The brake light is meant to tell you that you have a problem with your brakes and you should have a mechanic check it out for you. Many times it is just a faulty warning light, but you want to make sure you have good brakes, don't you. They are most useful when you have to stop. Take it to a professional and he can plug your car into a computer which reads the OBD II codes on your car. If it is the brakes the problem could be a loss of brake fluid, a worn or leaky master cylinder, a faulty brake booster or even something as simple as a stuck emergency brake lever. Have it checked as soon as you can. Good luck from Bovan.

23 people found this helpful.

The emergency brake on my '97 Camry sometimes stays engaged just a little bit after I press the button and drop the arm, especially in cold weather. If you press the button and push the emergency-brake arm all the way down firmly, rather than just dropping it, maam, I hope that will fully disengage the emergency brake and turn that light on your dashboard off. Good luck!

18 people found this helpful.

Forget EVERYTHING else you have ever heard about this as it's a ONE MINUTE job to fix it. Firstly check brake fluid level.If it's at the full mark,which it probably is, don't add more fluid. And make sure that the light has been coming on for at least a day or two,usually intermittently, and make certain that the brakes still work perfectly,which they probably do.Basically the dash board light is faulty(common problem with camrys.) All you need to do to PERMANATELY stop the false "brake" light warning coming on is unclip the electrical connector on the side of the brake fluid container.Push the side of the connector in so you can disconnect it,narrow pliers or flat head screwdriver (fairly narrow) makes it a little easier to do.The connector is white plastic and has a series of small wires coming out of it. Forget everything else you have heard and do this and you will NEVER have that light come on again,unless you put the hand brake on as this is a seperate electrical circuit.For those who don't know where the brake fluid container,or reservoir is,it's under the bonnet DIRECTLY in front of where the driver sits,it's right in front of you so it's easy to get to. It's in this spot for both 6 cylinder and 4 cylinder versions.Whatever you do don't see a mechanic or auto electrician,they will say it's something else and charge you hundreds of dollars, evil barstards!!!!!! You will need to do a visual brake fluid check once a month or so,which is easy as the container is see through and has full and low markings on it.Do this and the problem is fixed for good,and for free.

156 people found this helpful.

Rob is absolutely correct. I followed hid instructions and now my cruise control works as well

17 people found this helpful.

This is not the correct way to fix this problem. You are telling people to disconnect their low brake level sensor. Why not just tell them to replace the sensor? This seems easier. Mechanics don't charge hundreds of dollars to people just for the fun of it. Their is diagnosing to be done and they deserve to be paid for their work just as you do. Also mechanics work on several different types of cars, so knowing immediately what a random light's problem is next to impossible. Not saying you should take your car to a mechanic for every problem especially if you are a do-it-yourselfer like myself, but some problems should be taken in and not rigged.

41 people found this helpful.

I have taken my car into a very reputable company my "friends" work at. They know exactly what the problem is but will not fix it unless I pay them $300.00 for a job that takes 2 seconds to do because of some book they use that tells them how long it should take to fix it and therefore how much to charge. While fully within their rights to be paid for the work they do for me I feel taken advantage of as a widow because they know I am not going to look up the information and fix it myself. Some " friends "! While those price books keep people from being charged to much it does not guarantee a person's integrity or humanity to help someone out that needs help. I am not trying to take advantage of these guys. When I feel like I am being properly cared for I really talk them up to my friends and encourage them to take their business to them. That translates into thousands of dollars they never had for a couple hundred dollar savings to me, but treat me like I am just another customer to rape and pillage and I will take my business else where and I have.

21 people found this helpful.

rob u made it easy for me to understand and use my judgment in weather I want to unclip sensor or pay for replacement, knowing EXACTLY the service required. If you too lazy too look this up ,it's only fair these mechanics let u have it. You the man Rob ! I thank you

9 people found this helpful.

I am 82yrs old so it looks like I have to see my un-friendly mechanic. I pulled the lever P but that didn't help..........Thanks anyway., as I don't know a wire from a a sensor. Jane

5 people found this helpful.

Rob, are you assuming the liability for any accidents that may result from your foolish advise? Never disable a warning indicator, fix the problem.

13 people found this helpful.

HELP- I have a 2000 Toyota camry and theres a symbol of a car with brakes lights on picture of a car rear brake light but anyways I have replace bulbs on all rear lights but that symbol is still showing and in one of the post it said to unplug battery cable to reset it and I did but it still hasn't turned off. What can I do next anyone know? please help...THx

35 people found this helpful.

This happen to me... drove me crazy but i found that the problem was coming from the wire harness. under the trunk lid you will find wires for the two tail lights on the trunk lid. If you fallow them down the lid arm on left just under the back dash (if your problem is like mine) the wires are broken but still in the plastic sleeve. It will feel soft to touch with some wire cutters and some wire clips you can fix this problem in minutes. i had some one stand on break pedal while i open and closed trunk slowly the light indicator come on and off as i did this because the wires made contact and lost contact. i hope this helps you with your problem...good luck,

10 people found this helpful.

exscizxo said "This is not the correct way to fix this problem. You are telling people to disconnect their low brake level sensor. Why not just tell them to replace the sensor? This seems easier." I did as Rob said & it fixed my problem. My 1998 Camry isn't worth much anymore and I'm sure most mechanics would replace the whole master cylinder assembly for this faulty sensor issue. The brake fluid was full. This all you have to worry about. None of the cars that I owned back in the 70's or 80's had a fluid level sensor that I was aware of. If you check the brake fluid level every time you check your oil & coolant you will be fine. My brakes work perfectly & will no doubt continue to do so as long as I keep up normal maintenance.

8 people found this helpful.

I personally would NEVER, tell anyone to pull the level sensor switch out of the master cylinder res. A NO, NO big times. IF, you want to do this to ur own vehicle, fine. I just wouldnt tell other to do so. I own a Collision Center in Rich Va and find alarming to see such advice. I have helped many folks, for "free", ignoring the CCC or Alldata time reqired to fix the problem. I find simple things, such as this topic, to help my customers, or future customers, by showing them whats truly wrong, and then showing them what it should have cost. It takes only a few minutes to write an estimate for them, and its free as well. I figure IF I wouldn't put My wife and children in a vehicle, then I would never put theirs in it. That rule, has made me a very popular and well Respected in my community. When a woman, or man, hears me say, well mam, or sir, I wouldnt let my wife n kids drive it this way, they believe me, and I earned their trust and respect on the spot. Dealerships have sent me more work in the past 5 yrs than ever before, ALL based on MY Philosophy, and work ethics and morals. Someone has to have that quality, to many Crooks, and crooked body shops and mechanical shops out there to rip you off. I'd rather take 5 minutes and offer to take a look, for free, and then advise them of the problem than turn them away or do a quick fix for a hundred bux. Which I'd never do in the 1st place. Something like this level sensor, cmon, fix it right, by someone you trust. Ask for an estimate, sometimes a smaller shop will do alot more than a larger one. Experience talkn. I'm glad I'm not living near ya buddy. Ive owned a body shop for many yrs and seen my share of horrible wrecks, THEN I was hit, severely. Coma for 6 months, broken back and neck, and yrs later hit head on (5 wrecks all together) 4 by drunk drivers and 1 under the influence. I've NOW been on both sides, and it hurts!! I'm disabled due to the wrecks and 11 surgeries later I still wanna die from the pain. I've got 4 more surgeries to have, starting neck week. PEOPLE.....PLZ make sure to atleast ask a friend at work, or someone you trust, that WONT rip u off, get an estimate 1st, there Free, in Va. Take Care & God Bless... Drive Safe. Always remember, as we as mechanics say or are told, "Safety First" Drivers are under the same obligations. If not for yourself, think about the other driver or Your Family, or someone elses Family, children. Don't play around with Brakes and brake lights. I do understand what ur sayn, its a quick fix...sometimes!!!!! NOT ALL THE TIME.

11 people found this helpful.

To exs....... Very good point. To do this to ur own vehicle is 1 thing, but to tell others to do it, is wrong. It may not be the same issue as it appears to be, causing a huge prob later, maybe an accident or hurting yourself and or another family n children. There are shops and mechanics with morals and ethics who will ck this out for free w/o their boss knowing. I know. 4 fact I allow my tech and also ask them on occasion to plz ck this "whatever light or prob they are havn, if its a quick ck for my tech. Normally fixed, and for free, and NOW I've got a customer for life and their friends and co-workers. I understand where Robs coming from, BUT I'd NEVER tell anyone to do such a thing..sorry. DIYrs like me, just trained for 30 yrs, always make sure your rides are safe for yourself and others on the street.

3 people found this helpful.

There seems to be a massive over reaction to all of this. Less than 1% of accidents are due to a defect in the car. It doesn't disable the brakes, just turns off a false alarm, leaving you to monitor your brake fluid level yourself (exactly the same as all the older cars on the road). If you can't check the fluid, sure don't do it.

9 people found this helpful.

I just had this same problem. Brake light went on dash and the cruise control stopped also. All I had to do was push the emergency lever all the way down. Then pull the release for the parking brake. Fixed. Brake light off and cruise control worked. Hopes this helps I know this is an old post.

4 people found this helpful.

OK. Check Engine light on my 2005 Toyota Carry came ON. Car was running smoothly. Drove 1/4 mile home. Opened hood. Noticed brake fluid was low. Poured old Castrol brake fluid I found in the garage. Poured and poured, it was really low; almost ran out of it. Started car; check engine light still on. Put gizmo to check error code. No error code. Reset error codes. Check Engine light OFF. Trusted local mechanic who changed my oil last Wednesday forgot to check my fluids.

1 people found this helpful.

To "migration_siffy" and any who have the tail light bulb indicator lit on the dash, after hit the brake pedal.... If all bulbs match(New Pair),new high brake and the lamps are lighting.... it was the ground connection, in the trunk behind the center plastic panel(behind license plate). It looked fine. I took some 100 sand paper/cloth and cleaned the ground lug, same to the painted metal around the bolt hole. Remove the paint. I also wire brushed the bolt. Perfect now. If you have any bulbs not lighting that are new and known to be good, the wires near wire the split, at the left trunk are known to break often. You will have to open the loom and remove the tape. You will see wires that look like they have been cut. Extend the wires and reconnect. The opening and closing of the trunk eventually pulls on these wires enough to break them over time. Camry 1997-2001

3 people found this helpful.

I have an 04 lexus es330. The emergency brake light is on, even though I disconnected the sensor in brake fluid reservoir. Any help??

1 people found this helpful.



So funny reading the comments from the mechanics, the DIRE warnings!! Lol. One will charge $90 to check error codes, another will do it for free. One will charge $19 for an oil change, another will give you an estimate for an oil change plus $450 because you NEED the work done ASAP. I used to sell high line used cars (MBZ, Jaguar, Audi) & the one thing I learned from all the mechanics who worked in the repair shops is that there's usually 2 prices to fix everything. One price will be the best hook up EVER & entails something like disconnecting the low level sensor (like mentioned above)... The other price will be "shit, there goes my vacation money", but it will be done by the book...hopefully. I had a faulty wiring harness in my old '91 MBZ, our shop mechanic said it'll be $2900...or it can be $175 & there's no guarantee how long that will last. Haha..baby here's $175, work your magic! 4 yrs later it was still working fine! Bottom line is...I'm going outside now to bend that pin away from my Camrys brake rotors so it doesn't SQUEAL anymore. I know my brake pads need replacing, but until I do the entire neighborhood doesn't need to hear me drive down the road! (Also a trick I learned from a crafty mechanic)

1 people found this helpful.

I am siding with x48042's answer. The wiring harness attached to the left hinge of the trunk lid flexes every time the trunk is opened and closed, and the wires get damaged from the constant stress on them.


My warning light comes on , I know it is because of low fluid level. I filled the reservoir and 2 weeks later it is low again. Where do this fluid leak out as there is no evidence of a leak anywhere? Thanks

3 people found this helpful.

Migration-Siffy, the tail lights showing on your dash indicator is because of one or two things at once. First, it comes on if you have a tail light out. Second, it comes on if you replaced the bulb with a bulb that has a resistance rating different from that of the factory bulb. Generic replacement bulbs will cause this, as will a failed bulb. Buy the proper bulb for this application and the light on your dash will go out.

1 people found this helpful.

Owner of a 1998 Camry here, I had the stuck BRAKE light problem. First, changed the e- brake switch and that didn't fix it. Then I changed the fluid reservoir (which included the new float sensor). Filled the fluid reservoir past the MIN line and not quite to the MAX line, still had a stuck BRAKE light. Went through the shop manual's electrical section repeatedly, confirmed the float is ON or OFF and that only the reservoir float and e-brake can illuminate that light. Unplugged the float sensor to confirm it was the problem, not wiring. Finally added fluid until I was just past the MAX line...and it went away. Apparently the segmented chambers inside the reservoir to not fill evenly.


The problem with the brake system warning light is that it was created to generate service work for Toyota and not to help the owner of the car. Rob8888 was right in focusing on the brake fluid reservoir. Adding about 10ml of brake fluid turned the light off permanently. Had Toyota simply stated in the user manual that the driver should check the brake fluid level and fill to the full marker, most of the Toyota owners could have fixed this problem easily and efficiently. If it did not fix the problem, then the owner should be encouraged to get professional assistance. It is all a matter of appropriate advice to all the Toyota owners who are capable of simple repairs and need only resort to Toyota service for major repairs requiring special tools and skills. This did not rise to that level!

1 people found this helpful.

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