Why Are My Brake Lights Staying On? (9 Reasons Why)

Brake lights are a crucial part of every car that lets other drivers know when you are braking and driving. While driving is normally dangerous when your brake lights will not turn on, brake lights that refuse to turn off can be just as scary.

If your brake lights are staying on, you probably want to know the cause. We looked up the facts, and here is what we learned!

Why Are My Brake Lights Staying On?

Brake lights usually stay on because of a problem within the car’s braking system, such as a malfunctioning anti-lock braking system or worn brake shoes. Also, a stuck brake pedal will continually trigger the brake lights. Plus, leaving your parking brake on is a common reason why your brake lights won’t turn off.

Are you curious to learn more reasons why your brake lights stay on? We made a list of possibilities below, so keep reading!

1. Worn Brake Shoes

If you have worn-out brake shoes, they are likely the reason why your brake lights refuse to turn off.

With that, brake shoes are inside your brake drum systems and carry the brake lining to help the car brake.

So, when the brake shoes are worn out, a sensor wire will touch the car’s rotor and continuously keep the brake lines on.

Usually, you will know that your brake shoes are worn when your brake pedal feels spongy and if you hear grinding or squeaking while braking.

2. Parking Brake Is On

A common reason your brake lights stay on is that you have left your parking brake on.

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That said, if you did not properly disengage your parking brake or forgot to release it, it will keep your brake lights on.

Additionally, your brakes can overheat if you drive with your parking brake on, making your brake shoes wear and worsening your brake light problem.

3. Malfunctioning Anti-Lock Braking System

Cars have an anti-lock braking system (ABS) that restores traction in the tires to help people steer during emergencies to keep the wheels from locking.

However, the anti-lock braking system can malfunction, keeping your brake lights on.

Normally, your anti-lock braking system will malfunction when you have low fluid levels and dirty or faulty speed sensors.

4. Bad Sensors

As mentioned earlier, your car has an anti-lock braking system, which has wheel speed sensors that are important to the braking system.

Occasionally, these sensors can get clogged from brake dust and debris over time, damaging the connecting wires attached to the sensors.

When the wheel speed sensors are defective, they may send false signals that make your brake lights illuminate.

Usually, you can see visual damage to the wheel speed sensor wires, but there could also be an open circuit or electrical short in the wires.

5. Faulty Master Cylinder

Faulty Master Cylinder

Your master cylinder is the heart of your brake system, and it works by driving pressure made by the brake pedal to the wheel’s braking mechanism to stop the car.

Occasionally, the brake cylinder can go bad, triggering your brake lights to stay on even while you are not braking.

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Normally, you will have a bad master cylinder if you have uneven brake pad wear, low brake fluid, and your brake pedal sticks when you press the brake pedal.

Additionally, having a faulty brake cylinder can lead to contaminated brake fluid, which can cause more issues in your brake system and brake lights.

6. Damaged Brake Lights

A common reason your brake lights may stay on is that the brake lights have been damaged.

For instance, if you recently got into a collision, one of the wires connected to your brake lights may have gotten damaged, causing your brake lights to illuminate constantly.

Usually, you will just need to repair any of the damaged wires and replace the brake light bulbs as needed to fix the problem.

7. Low Brake Fluid

Occasionally, being low on brake fluid could make your car’s brake lights stay on all the time.

Usually, you will have low brake fluid because of clogged lines, leaks, etc., but it is also possible that your car merely used up all the brake fluid.

With that, a yellow “!” will appear on your dashboard when you are low on brake fluid, but the yellow “!” will turn red once you are very low on brake fluid.

To find out if this is the problem, you can check your brake fluid levels to see if they need to be topped off.

However, you may need to ask a mechanic to perform a brake fluid flush or repair any leaks to avoid losing brake fluid too quickly.

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8. Stuck Brake Pedal

Normally, your brake pedal is a huge reason your brake lights turn on, and your brake pedal can get stuck.

Whenever your brake pedal gets stuck, meaning it refuses to return to its initial position after you take your foot off the brake, your brake lights will stay on.

Therefore, you need to find a way to bring your brake pedal back up to turn off your brake lights.

Usually, the brake pedal gets stuck because you have a faulty spring, which is what needs to be replaced to fix your problem.

9. Improper Light Bulbs

While this is not common, you may have installed the wrong bulbs for your brake lights.

For instance, if your socket is meant for a light bulb with two circuits, but you installed a bulb with one circuit, a short can occur and keep your brake light on.

To know more, you can also read our posts on why your airbag light is flashing on your Nissan Maxima, why your Bluetooth is not working in your car, and why your brake Caliper is sticking.


Brake lights are meant to go on and off as you brake, but the brake lights may malfunction and stay on while you are not braking.

Usually, brake lights stay on because of an issue with the brake system, such as a stuck brake pedal, faulty master cylinder, and more.

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