The brake light does not light up: what is happening and how to fix it

Want to ask your questions about the brake light? So you are in the right place. In this article, you will find how it works and much more about this important safety equipment.

The brake light, as well as other lights that the vehicle has, serves to signal a car action to other drivers on the road. In this case, he is braking. But like any other part of mechanics or bodywork, it is subject to defects. So, if the brake light does not come on when stepping on the pedal, what should be done?

If the brake light does not come on, this is a problem that needs attention and priority from the car owner. After all, this defect can end up resulting in a rear-end collision, as other cars that are on the street and coming behind may not notice the braking.

How does the car brake light work?

Learn a little more about your car’s brake light.

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First of all, before explaining why the brake light does not come on, let’s list its components:

  • – A fuse;
  • – A brake light switch (chives);
  • – Two 21-watt bulbs;
  • – The wiring that makes the electrical connections.

In the absence or defect of any of the components, the functioning can already be compromised.


The operation of the brake light is very simple and practical: when you step on the brake pedal, the switch is activated, taking energy to the circuit and, thus, to the lights.

It is worth remembering again that when the brake light does not come on, there is a great risk to the safety of the occupants of the car and other vehicles.

After all, this is the only feature available to signal other drivers that you are braking. The light comes on in a split second even before the driver fully steps on the pedal, allowing the person behind to notice and be able to brake in time.

Reasons why the brake light does not come on

See the main problems that impact the operation of the brake light.

Fuse or switch problemsFaulty fuses or switches can be the main reasons for the brake light not coming on. In most cars, this part is located next to the brake pedal, where it is connected to two wires that will be used to test if the problem comes from there.

When identifying this item in your car, look for the part known as chives. It is usually very close to the pedal and, most of the time, located a little above.

Now, to test and see if the brake light does not come on because of this part:

  1. Disconnect the two wires from the chives and connect them to each other – but remember to have a small piece of wire peeled at both ends so that the test is possible.
  2. Once that’s done, turn the key in the ignition just to light up the panel and check if all the bulbs light up or not.

In this way, if the lamps work normally, it is concluded that the chives are burnt. However, if the brake light still does not come on, you will need to check the fuse. In this case, the ideal is to consult the instructions in the owner’s manual, as the information is specific to each model.

The lamp may be burned out

If the problem has not yet been found with the previous guidelines, it is possible that the brake light does not come on because of burned-out bulbs. 

Changing the light bulb is actually quite simple. The process can be done entirely without leaving the house, however, if you prefer, just wash the car at a mechanic.

The price of the lamp can vary up to R$ 40. Also, remember that the value will depend on the lamp model and the vehicle.

Other possible causes

Finally, if even after all the previous checks the problem of the light does not come on when braking remains, the best alternative is to take the car to a specialist in automotive electrical.

We recommend taking it to a specialist because the problem is much more specific than simply changing the light bulb or adjusting the burnt chives.

When the brake light does not come on and you have tried the above procedures, there are more complications to resolve. This can involve, for example, the harness and other parts of the circuit or even the onboard computer.

How much is the fine for a brake light problem?

But, in addition to the safety factor, there are still other complications from riding with irregular brake light. This is subject to a fine if caught by a traffic authority and the driver must pay an average infraction worth R$ 130.16 and still lose 4 points on the National Driver’s License (CNH).

Okay, now you know what problems can cause the brake light not to light up. If you have any questions or suggestions, leave them in the comments below!

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