Of all the various subsystems that make the smooth working of your car possible, one whose maintenance you cannot afford to ignore, is the braking system. Without well-functioning car brakes, your driving can be potentially disastrous. With the range of different car models in the market, it's singularly impossible to point out what exactly may be the problem when the parking light stays switched on, even after you have disengaged the brake. What follows is a generic discussion of the possible causes.
The Probable Causes
The primary function of the emergency brake light is to indicate when the parking brake has not been disengaged. The emergency or parking brake is a mechanical braking system, mainly used when parking cars on slopes. However, as you may have noticed, sometimes, its indicator light stays lit even after it is disengaged. There are more than one reasons why this might happen. Firstly, ruling out that there is nothing wrong with the light indicator's electrical circuit, here are some of the reasons why it may be staying on.
Problem With Parking Brake Switch
One reason is malfunctioning of the switch associated with the brake pedal. So the first thing you should do is check the parking brake pedal switch, for misalignment. Get it checked from a car mechanic to know if that's really the case. If you notice that brake lights are not working, the problem mostly lies in the electrical system that controls the brakes.
Brake Fluid Loss From Master Cylinder
If nothing's wrong with the parking brake pedal adjustment, the second most likely cause is low fluid level in your braking system's master cylinder. A loss of fluid usually indicates a leak through the system. To check if this is indeed the problem, you will have to check fluid levels in the master cylinder, which supplies the fluid required for hydraulic brake functioning.
A low level of fluid will cause breaking problems, as there is loss of hydraulic pressure. The loss of fluid in the car's braking system on one side, may cause an imbalance, which might cause the light to come on.
If loss of brake fluid is indeed the problem, you need to restore its levels, as soon as possible. It is best to take the car to a repair center, pronto, and top up the brake fluid, after a thorough inspection of the braking system.
Worn-out Brake Calipers
Another reason, which, along with the fluid leak, may have worsened the condition of your brake system, causing the light to glow, is the wearing out of the calipers. It will cause more fluid to be drawn from the reservoir, leading to further problems. Check out the calipers and pads for wear and tear. It is better to get the pads and calipers checked out regularly, as part of the maintenance schedule.
The most likely culprit is a faulty emergency brake switch or low brake fluid. Whatever be the case, it's recommended that you get the brake system checked, as soon as possible. It is not advisable that you ignore brake problems, as sudden failure of this system can turn out to be fatal. Rush your car to the nearest repair center, as the light may just be indicating an imminent brake failure, in the making.