Brake Lights Won’t Go Off!

Just recently, I came home at night, shut off the car but the brake lights stayed on. In this post I write on how I resolved the anomaly. This problem is usually caused by a faulty brake light switch or a broken brake light switch stopper. The stopper or retainer is made of plastic and if in place, keeps the brake light switch button depressed. When you push on the brake pedal, the button on the brake light switch looses contact with the stopper and the brake light comes on. In my case the stopper broke off and not having had the experience before, I noticed the bits of blue plastic on floor mat, picked them up and threw them away.

I describe the procedure for repair on a 2003 Accord. The principles are generally the same on most vehicles.

Suspect a broken brake light switch stopper if your brake lights stay on and you observe some broken plastic on your driver floor mat!

Materials:

  • Philips screwdriver
  • Prying tools (a plus)

Steps:

1. Remove the lower part of the dashboard (driver side): Remove the lower part of the dash around the steering column (not really a must, but would probably help you visualise better). This part is held by just one screw and a couple tabs. Remove the single screw in the location shown below;

Brake lights won't go off

Location of single screw for lower part of dashboard. Screw already removed

Once the screw is out, the rest of the part is held by tabs. Pull as shown to break loose

brake light stays on

Removing the panel below the steering column

2. Remove the roof of the driver side footwell: This is only held by tabs. Simply pull apart from one end to separate.

brake lights won't turn off

Removing the roof of the footwell

Once removed, follow the vertical bar of the brake pedal into the upper part of the footwell until you get the picture below. The red arrow points to the brake switch while the blue arrow points at the button of the brake switch which should be depressed when the brake pedal is not engaged. Note that the plastic stopper is missing here and that’s why my brake lights remained on.

Location of brake switch on Honda Accords

Brake switch on the 2003 Accord

3. Temporary Fix: You can put a short (1/2 inch) 10mm bolt into the slot for the plastic stopper while you source for a replacement stopper. I had to do this while I planned getting the stopper the next day…

Replacing brake switch stopper on 2003 Accord

The bolt I used for a temporary fix

Below shows the bolt in place. I even secured the bolt with a matching nut 😀

Brake switch stopper

10mm bolt used as temporary stopper

NB: Only use a bolt as a temporary measure. My guess is that leaving the bolt in there will wear out the plastic button on the brake light switch. If this happens and is severe enough, you will need to change the brake light switch.

4. Install the replacement brake switch stopper: I got the replacement part from a used parts market (don’t think you’ll find it new in my current location). Simply push the pointed end into the slot on the pedal. It’s a one minute install and you’re done!

Broken brake switch stopper

Replacement brake switch stopper

brake light permanently on

Brake switch stopper installed

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