What does service brake system mean? Causes of your brake service light being on

What does service brake system mean? Causes of your brake service light being on

What does service brake system mean? Causes of your brake service light being on

Confused by the technical lingo of car maintenance? One of the common terms you’re likely to hear when it comes to taking care of your automobile is “service brake system.” But what exactly does this term mean, and why should you familiarize yourself with its meaning and function? To answer these questions and more, let’s look further into brake service systems with Tony Flynn and some of the causes of your brake service light being on.

What does service brake system mean?

What does service brake system mean?

What does service brake system mean?

To slow down a vehicle, the service brake is actuated by the driver’s foot and can be applied gradually. Because of wear, these service brakes, which are friction brakes that work best, need to be serviced regularly.

The brake system on commercial vehicles is imperative for managing speed, stopping the vehicle, or keeping it still. This includes a variety of components and parts that, together, provide the necessary energy for braking. These power supplies regulate and deliver the same essential energy needed to drive safely.

Initiated by the actuating device, components of the brake system control braking. Transmission devices work with wheel brakes to convert kinetic energy into frictional heat and slow the vehicle. In essence, these mechanisms make up a reliable braking setup that keeps vehicles moving safely at all times.

Commercial vehicles, especially those over 7.5 tons, have four brakes. They are the service brake, secondary brake, parking brake, and endurance brake.

Service brake system applies and releases the brakes when you use the brake pedal during normal driving.

As cited in www.dmv.ca.gov

Additional meanings of Service Brake System

  • The service brake system means the electrical, mechanical, hydraulic, or air brake components used to slow or stop a vehicle in motion.
  • The system that stops and holds a machine for a short time is called the service brake system.
  • Service brakes must be able to be used by a rider with both hands on the steering wheel in the standard driving position.

Service brake system light

Service brake system light

Service brake system light

Most cars have a brake system dashboard light. Many have two or three lights: one for ABS, one for the parking brake, and one for braking system issues.

Each of these lights has unique and shared indicators that depend on the make, model, year, and features of your vehicle. Please consult your owner’s manual for dashboard light interpretations.

  • “ABS” is usually surrounded by a circle with parentheses-like curves on either side. The anti-lock braking system activates the light briefly. It’s a problem if it’s always on.
  • The parking brake light resembles the ABS light but has a capital P or exclamation mark instead of multiple letters in a circle. “BRAKE” may appear above or below the circle. When you drive with the parking brake on, this dash warning usually appears. If it stays on after disengaging the parking brake, check the next section for causes.
  • “BRAKE” is the BRAKE light. When the parking brake is on, it’s sometimes used instead. If you drive with it on without the parking brake, you may have brake issues.

Your brake service light illuminates when you depress the pedal.

If the brake service light comes on when you press the brake pedal, there is hydraulic loss on one side of your vehicle or your brake fluid is extremely low in the master cylinder.

When you press and release the brake pedal, brake fluid is sent from your master cylinder to your brake components. If the fluid level is low, you risk losing all ability to stop, which is hazardous for both you and those nearby while your vehicle is moving.

Causes of your brake service light being on

Causes of your brake service light being on

Causes of your brake service light being on

When any of the brake system lights listed above come on unexpectedly, take it seriously and consider it a service brake system light or warning alert. The following are some potential triggers for your car’s brake warning light to illuminate:

You have the parking brake ON.

Have you ever taken off in the car and stepped on the gas before remembering to disengage the parking brake? We’ve all had this happen occasionally, but be sure not to do it too often as it can lead to premature brake wear.

If your car’s light indicator stays on after releasing the parking brake, there may be other causes.

The switch on your parking brake is not functioning properly.

For a mechanical parking brake system, the lever is commonly located on the center console or pedals. Newer vehicles have an ignition-activated electronic parking brake system.

If your parking brake light stays on after disengaging, whether you use a switch or lever, this system may be malfunctioning. Contact a technician immediately to accurately diagnose the switch, lever, or another issue.

You need more brake fluid.

If your brake lights remain illuminated despite having released the parking brake, this might be an indication of low brake fluid. This vital liquid converts brake pedal pressure into mechanical action that stops your car.

Low brake fluid levels can be a telltale sign of leakage and should only be diagnosed by an experienced technician. But if you’re feeling proactive, you can easily check the level of your brakes at home. Or you can get a free inspection from your local Tires Plus to make sure everything is good to go!

A brake fluid exchange is required.

The brake fluid in your vehicle runs on a closed circuit, yet it can still become contaminated if there is an issue with the system or due to its age. This is particularly concerning as steel and aluminum are materials used when creating car parts. Any moisture present within the brake liquid can cause corrosion, which leads to expensive repairs!

An exchange of fresh brake fluid for the contaminated one should occur during a brake fluid service. Schedule this in advance, as only newer cars have warning lights alerting you when it’s due. Consult your owner’s manual to determine how often you need to replace your vehicle’s brake fluid!

You need new brake pads because your brake pads are worn.

Depending on the age, make, and model of your car, you might find that a service brake system light illuminates when it’s time for new brake pads. However, unlike with contaminated brake fluid, there will not always be an alert indicating that replacement is required.

Worn brake pads cause screeching, grinding, and pedal pulsation. To keep your vehicle’s brakes safe and efficient, follow the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule.

Your ABS does not work properly.

The ABS in your car should flash briefly when it’s being used to help you navigate slippery roads. If the light stays on or flashes erratically, it may indicate a larger anti-lock brake system issue that needs immediate attention.

If your Anti-Lock Brake System (ABS) light is on, it can be due to a blown fuse, a faulty sensor or wiring, or an ineffective controller. You must take care of your brakes as soon as possible since, without efficient ABS, you risk losing grip and steering control when in motion. Luckily for you, Tires Plus can diagnose the cause of this light and repair the anti-lock brake system quickly!

You need to reset your lights.

Illuminated brake system lights usually inform you of any issues with the braking mechanism. They sometimes flash or stay on without a technical reason.

These two scenarios are hard to distinguish. So, an experienced mechanic should reset or analyze your dashboard brake light. Instead of asking, “How can I reset this dash light?” get an expert evaluation from a nearby auto mechanic.

Common brake service light troubleshooting

Common brake service light troubleshooting

Common brake service light troubleshooting

If your brake service warning light has been illuminated, it likely means that something is wrong with the brake fluid. From leakage to full cylinder replacement, if you experience this issue, consulting a brake specialist would be wise.

Generally speaking, repairs of this nature range between $300 and $500, depending on the parts required for your vehicle. However, keep in mind that the exact cost will depend on further investigation of the situation by an expert mechanic.

Driving with the brake warning light illuminated: Is it safe?

Driving with the brake warning light illuminated: Is it safe?

Driving with the brake warning light illuminated: Is it safe?

Please try to drive as little as possible if you see your brake warning light. Your car should not be driven until the problem has been resolved by a mechanic. Driving with a faulty braking system can result in larger expenses or even a complete brake malfunction.

After the illumination appears and you’re sure the parking brakes aren’t on, call a brake specialist.

FAQs What does service brake system mean?

What does “service brake system” on my Chevy mean?

If the brake service light comes on when you press the brake pedal, your vehicle either has a hydraulic loss or very low brake fluid. Stop the vehicle in a brake system failure.

What causes the brake and ABS lights to illuminate?

The ABS module is broken, the fluid reservoir is low, the wheel speed sensors are broken, or the system is off.

How is a service brake system fixed?

How to fix service brake system? There are a few possible reasons why the service brake might not be working properly. First, make sure there are no leaks and that the brake fluid level is adequate. Next, look for signs of wear and tear or potential damage on the brakes and pads. If any of these parts need to be replaced, only a qualified expert should do it.

How frequently should braking systems be serviced?

Brake maintenance should be done every time the tires are rotated, every 20,000 to 60,000 miles, or every six months, depending on the vehicle.


From this blog post on mbhconcours.org, we can see that brake systems are a critical component of any car. Their functionality is essential for the vehicle to operate safely.

There are multiple types of brake systems, and each must be maintained for optimal operation. The most common type of braking system today is the service brake system. To ensure proper operation, professional technicians should perform periodic servicing and inspections.

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