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Old 11-21-2011, 03:02 PM
 
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Default Emergency brake light stays on in old faithful

in my 92 tercel, even after i release the floor emergency handbrake, the light on the dash stays on fully

a few months ago i remember it became dim when i released the brake and wouldn't go out for awhile but eventually did

anything to this?
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Old 11-21-2011, 03:44 PM
 
Location: Columbia, California
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The emergency brake light is also a warning for low brake fluid and worn pads/shoes in many vehicles.
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Old 11-21-2011, 03:48 PM
 
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i had the frt pads and shoes replaced last spring and the rears done this past spring
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Old 11-21-2011, 03:51 PM
 
Location: Eastern Washington
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The light glowing dimly and then going out suggests to me low brake fluid level, possibly connected with worn pads (the level goes down as the pads wear)
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Old 11-21-2011, 04:07 PM
 
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the light is now bright. the manual says it indicates low fluid level. i will have it checked tomorrow. could it be anything else?
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Old 11-21-2011, 04:19 PM
 
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it it normal to have low brake fluid on this 19 year old car? never happened before. could it be the master cylinder (if there is such a thing anymore i don't know)? will my mechanic have some brake fluid on hand? or will he want to check the brake system too as a result of the light?
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Old 11-21-2011, 04:33 PM
 
Location: Victoria TX
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You can check it yourself. It is a little plastic reservoir under the hood, look in your owners manual for the location, or google it for a diagram.

Brake fluid is very cheap (a buck or two for a can) and you can top it up if necessary, or any repair shop will probably top it up for free if you ask them to. If it goes down quickly, that suggests a leak in your braking system. Another way to check for a leak is to hold the brake pedal down, and see if it gradually sinks further to the floorboard as you're holding constant pressure on it. Your shop man would have topped it up when he did your brakes, but sometimes they don't get the level perfect, and if it is low to the minimum line, it could flash your light.

(If you handle brake fluid, be extremely careful with it, make sure you don't get any traces of it in your eyes.)
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Old 11-21-2011, 04:41 PM
 
Location: Minneapolis
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rlrl View Post
it it normal to have low brake fluid on this 19 year old car? never happened before. could it be the master cylinder (if there is such a thing anymore i don't know)? will my mechanic have some brake fluid on hand? or will he want to check the brake system too as a result of the light?
If it develops a leak, it will have low fluid. This isn't "normal," but it is the expected result when the rubber piston seals wear out after a number of years.

All cars of any age should not leak brake fluid at all; if they do, they require repair.

It's more likely to be a wheel cylinder leaking than the master. When masters fail, they usually fail to develop pressure, but more often than not, they don't leak externally. When a wheel cylinder fails, they dump toxic fluid on the ground.

Yes, any mechanic will have the correct fluid on hand.

Yes, any mechanic will want to check for the reason the light came on. In fact, I believe he has every obligation to check, as any leak in the system will eventually (possibly very quickly, depending on the leak) leave you without functioning brakes.

Bring it somewhere tomorrow morning if possible, or make sure all of your insurance payments are up to date. (Raise those medical and liability limits, too! You'll need them if you ignore your brake warning light.)
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Old 11-21-2011, 04:47 PM
 
Location: Eastern Washington
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You can check and even add yourself, the reservoir is translucent, you can see the fluid level just by looking at it in decent light. The top unscrews like a small jar lid, wipe dirt and etc. away with a paper towel or similar. You can buy brake fluid at any convenience store, at least you can around here.

Better to check it yourself and add a bit if needed before driving it to your shop for a more complete investigation.
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Old 11-21-2011, 05:09 PM
 
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i just took it to a shop where the guy was willing to check the level at this hour. he said it was a bit down so he filled it and the brake light went out. should i have it looked at again by my mechanic just to be sure or is it cool now?
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