Why Do My Brake Lights Only Work When Pedal Pressed Hard? (Solved!)

Having a functioning brake system in your car is very important not only because it allows your car to function the right way but also because of how it is important for the safety of all of the people involved. That said, the brake lights are just as important when it comes to on-road safety.

But what if your brake lights do not turn on properly unless you step on them hard?

Why is it that your brake lights only work when pressed hard?

If your brake lights only turn on when you press the brakes hard, this could be due to a problem with your brake light switch. There are even some cars that will not work properly due to this problem. You would have to have the brake light switch replaced if there is something wrong with it.

The fact that some of the newer cars today will not work properly when there is something wrong with the brake light switch is a testament to how important the brake lights are.

These are not merely lights that are there to remind other people that you are braking, as brake lights actually play a bigger role than that. This is why it is important for you to know why you need to press hard for your brake lights to work.

Why do I have to push hard on my brake pedal?

The brakes play an important role in the function of the entire vehicle because they allow you to come to a full stop. In that regard, the brake pedals are just as important, especially when you consider the fact that they are the ones that basically send the signal to the brakes to allow them to work. Most of the time, you do not have to push hard on your brake pedals.

But why are there some instances where you need to step hard on the brakes?

  1. Brake fluid needs replacing

The first reason why the brakes may feel a bit hard is that the brake fluid needs to be replaced. Brake fluid will degrade over time the more you use your brakes. You will see that it is already too old when it has become a dark-brown fluid from its usual clear look due to how it picks up dirt and moisture as the brake system is functioning regularly.

So, when the brake fluid has already become quite dark, the next step that you need to do is to replace it. Doing so will allow the brakes to work better and for the brake pedals to be easier to use.

  1. Vacuum issues

One of the things you need to know about your brake system is that it contains a booster system that has a vacuum that is used to control the pedal. The vacuum is what controls the force that you need to exert when you are stepping on the brake pedal.

So, if there is a problem with this vacuum, such as when there is a fault in the different parts that allow it to work, then it will be much more difficult for you to step on the brake effortlessly.

  1. Brake pads are old and worn out

The brake pads on your car are the ones that control how your car slows down when you step on the brake pedal. These are the parts that are responsible for creating the friction that will cause the rotor of the wheel to stop turning.

So, when your brake pads have already become too worn out due to age and wear and tear, they will no longer work as well as they used to. You will notice this when you need to press on your brake pedal harder as the pads now need to work harder just to stop the rotors from moving.

Why do my brake lights only work when the pedal is pressed hard?

While we talked about some of the reasons why you need to press on your pedal harder, there are some instances where you actually need to step hard on the pedals even though the brakes are actually working properly. This usually is the case when the brake lights only work when the pedal is pressed hard.

So, why is it that you would have to press the pedal hard just for the brake lights to work?

The first reason why the brake lights only work when the pedal is pressed hard is due to a problem with the brake light switch. This switch is what is responsible for sending signals to the brake lights for them to turn on as you press on the brakes. In other cars, the brake lights switch is also responsible for sending a signal to the car’s computer system to notify it that the brakes are applied.

So, when the brake light switch is not working properly or when there is a problem with the brake light relay, such as when it is damaged, it will be much more difficult for the switch to send the signal to the brake lights for them to turn on. As such, you may have to press on the brakes harder just for the switch to work.

Another reason is that the brake light switch sensitivity is at its lowest. You can actually adjust the sensitivity of your brake lights so that they will turn on depending on how hard you press the brake pedal. So, if there is a problem with the sensitivity of the brake light switch, you will need to exert more force when you are pressing on the pedals just so the lights will turn on.

How do I adjust my brake light sensitivity?

If you want to adjust your brake light sensitivity, here is how you do it:

  • Look for the brake light switch, which should be located under the dashboard just near the top of the brake pedal.
  • Press the button on the switch. You can simply apply pressure to toggle the switch on or off.
  • Check whether or not you have to push the switch in or out to adjust it. If the brake light is on even when the pedal is not pressed, you need to push the brake switch in to push it back in its place. But if you need to press harder on the pedal to turn the brake lights on, you may have to pull the brake light switch out a bit by rotating the housing unit maybe a quarter of a turn.

How do I know if my brake light relay is bad?

The best way to know if there is something wrong with the brake light relay is by using a multimeter that could tell the voltage at the brake light switch connector when the brake pedal is neutral or pressed.

If there is no voltage running through the brake light switch when you are pressing the brake pedal, then there should be something wrong with the brake light relay. But the most probable reason here is that there is something wrong with the brake light switch. Or it could be that a fuse was blown.

But you should not worry too much because the brake light switch is actually easy to replace and will not cost you a lot of money.

Check your car’s manual to learn how to remove the brake light switch. If it is not in the manual, you might want to take your car to a repair shop to have the new brake light switch replaced. A brake light switch that was not installed properly will not work and may even get damaged.

Sources

Stackexchange.com: Brake Lights don’t illuminate until the pedal is pressed by about 5-10mm

Samarins.com: Brake light switch

ItStillRuns.com: Adjust Brake Light Switch