Why Might Brake Lights Get Stuck On & How Do You Fix Them?

It is therefore important that our lights work correctly but what if for example our brake lights come on and stay on? In this article we will be looking at the potentially dangerous issue to explain what may cause it and how we can fix it.

What Do Brake Lights Do?

I am sure most of you out there understand what brake lights are or at least I hope you do. The brake lights illuminate to indicate that our car is braking and will be slowing down or stopping. This is to warn the drivers behind us so they know either to brake themselves or make a safe attempt to pass.

The way this works is via a switch located in our brake pedal. When we apply pressure to the brake pedal this switch sends a message to the brake lights to come on while we are actively braking. It’s a simple system and has saved countless lives at this point.

If our lights do not come on when we brake this is a problem because if we stop suddenly a car behind has no warning. Even if the brake lights are stuck on this can also happen because the driver behind can not tell when we are really applying the brakes.

What Can Cause Brake Lights to Stay On?

There are actually a few possible reasons that your brake lights might come on and not turn back off. The issues are seldom major but the effects of the problem are. It should not be too difficult to resolve the issue but you can not delay in doing so.

Faulty Brake Light Switch or Sensor

The brake light switch has already been mentioned so the importance of this part is obvious. When working correctly it should seamlessly activate the brake lights when we apply pressure to the brake pedal.

Often if this switch fails it stops sending the brake signal to the lights and as a result the lights do not come on. In rare cases a faulty switch may report constant braking which would result in the lights being stuck on permanently.

Sometimes it is not a switch but a sensor but in both cases faulty information may lead to the light staying on. It is a simple part near the brake pedal and can be adjusted as long as it is not broken.

Brake Pedal Spring

When we press the brake pedal we don’t have to pull it back up manually. This is because the brake pedal spring will release the tension and allow the pedal to return to its former position. With use just like with all things mechanical this spring can wear out.

The spring may become weak leading the pedal not to return to its correct position. This can fool the brake switch into thinking you are still braking and may also leave the brakes partially engaged as well. This is obviously a bad thing and you should be able to notice that the brake pedal is not coming all the way back up.

Electrical Issues

The system between the brake pedal and brake lights is simple enough but it does require a long stretch of wiring. As will all wiring this can wear out over time, become scorched or even become loose at the connection points.

Depending on where and what type of wiring fault you have you may have lights that stay on or ones that do not come on at all. Both are obviously dangerous. Wiring can be tricky because as mentioned there is a big gap between the brake pedal and the brake lights. Locating the problem can take some time.

Wrong Bulbs

This may be a quick and easy problem to diagnose especially if the problem starts straight after you change the bulbs in the brake lights. It is a rare issue but if you were to use a light bulb designed for a one circuit into a socket for two circuits it can cause a short. The result of this short could be that the light comes on but won't turn off again while the electrics are engaged.

If this happens straight after replacing the bulb there is a big chance that the bulb was wrong and this is what you should check first.

How To Fix a Brake Light Fault

Whether the light is stuck on or will not engage the repairs are going to likely be the same. In this section we will give you some of the more common fixes that you can try.

Check the Brake Switch

The brake pedal switch will be close to or part of the brake pedal itself. You will want to determine if the switch is being completely depressed when you press the brakes. You should also check to see that it returns to an off position once you stop braking.

If this is defective you will want to replace the switch or if possible adjust the switch as it may have become less sensitive.

Check the Brake Pedal Spring

The brake pedal spring is under the brake pedal; it should be rigid and hold the pedal in its elevated position. If there is play in the spring then it has become worn and is likely the reason the brake lights remain on.

Replacing the spring is as simple as using needle nose pliers to unhook the old spring and replacing it with a new one with the right tension. A quick test of the brake lights afterwards will hopefully confirm you have fixed the issue.

Inspect the Wiring

If you have the electrical knowledge and feel like you know how to test the wiring involved then you can look into the issue. Look for signs of rust, corrosion and any loose connections. If you have the ability you may try to fix these issues as well but only if you feel equipped to do so.

Take it to the Pros

Many of the causes of this kind of issue include minor repairs but not everyone has the confidence or technical skill to try them. There is nothing wrong with that at all. If you would rather a professional deal with the problem then take the issue to the nearest mechanic.

Can You Drive With Brake Lights Stuck On?

Often depending on the issue you may be able to drive a little way before you have to get it fixed but when it comes to brake lights this is a different story. Aside from the safety aspect of the cars behind you not knowing if you are actually braking it is illegal to drive with faulty brake lights.

If you have to get the car to a mechanic make sure they are close. A good idea might be to have a friend follow you there close to you who you contact via hands free phone. You can let them know you are braking and they can match you.

It is far from ideal to make the only journey that car takes to the mechanic. We understand that towing costs money as do mobile mechanics but consider these options for your own safety and that of others.


If your brake lights are stuck on you have a real safety issue that should be fixed quickly. Often the problem is minor and should not cost too much to fix. It can not be ignored however so you will want to get this resolved as soon as you become aware that a problem exists.

Link To or Reference This Page

We spend a lot of time collecting, cleaning, merging, and formatting the data that is shown on the site to be as useful to you as possible.

If you found the data or information on this page useful in your research, please use the tool below to properly cite or reference Tow Ratings as the source. We appreciate your support!

  • "Why Might Brake Lights Get Stuck On & How Do You Fix Them?". Tow Ratings. Accessed on March 25, 2023. http://towratings.net/blog/why-might-brake-lights-get-stuck-on-how-do-you-fix-them/.

  • "Why Might Brake Lights Get Stuck On & How Do You Fix Them?". Tow Ratings, http://towratings.net/blog/why-might-brake-lights-get-stuck-on-how-do-you-fix-them/. Accessed 25 March, 2023

  • Why Might Brake Lights Get Stuck On & How Do You Fix Them?. Tow Ratings. Retrieved from http://towratings.net/blog/why-might-brake-lights-get-stuck-on-how-do-you-fix-them/.