The brake wear indicator light is a fairly new addition to today’s automobiles. Mainly found on higher end cars, this indicator light will let you know when it’s time to get your brakes checked out. The light will come on before the brakes are completely worn out to give you enough time to replace them before any damage occurs. Refer to your owner’s manual to see how many miles you should still have on the brake pads after the light comes on.

What the brake pad wear indicator warning light means

Quite simply, when this light is on, the sensor in the brakes has determined that the brake pads are too thin. There are 2 main ways that auto manufacturers achieve this diagnosis. The first is by using a small sensor embedded into the brake pad material itself. As the pad wears out, the sensor will eventually come into contact with the rotor which completes a circuit and turns this indicator light on. The second method is a position sensor that measures how much the pads have to move before the brakes are applied.

What to do when the brake pad wear indicator warning light is on

If the light comes on, you should bring the vehicle to a certified technician to have the brakes replaced. More than likely, the light will shut off with the new pads installed. However, any issues with the sensors themselves will cause the light to turn on.

Is it safe to drive with the brake pad wear indicator warning light on?

It is safe to drive with this light on for a short amount of time. As mentioned earlier, the light will come on when you still have some brake pad material left, but if you wait too long and continue driving, you will run out of material and damage the rotors. Without any pad material, the brakes won’t stop the car as quickly so waiting too long is dangerous and increases the risks of getting into a collision.

As always, our certified technicians are available to help identify any issues you may be experiencing with your brakes or wear indicators.

This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as What Does the Brake Pad Wear Indicator Warning Light Mean? and was authored by Spencer Cates.


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