'97 Taurus 147k: Brake Light ON

Brake light has been ON for a while now. I’ve checked all the brake pads on all four wheels and they’re nice and thick. No visible leaks anywhere that I can see near each wheel or in the engine compartment. Fluid level in the Master Cylinder MIGHT be on the low side, I’m not sure. Looking in, the level is about two inches below the lip and at least an inch below the MAX line on the side of the reservoir. Any other reasons the light might be ON? Maybe it’s the Emergency Brake? A bad sensor of some kind? Everything appears to be working fine. Brake works fine, Emergency Brake works, etc. Should I just pour some DOT-3 in and see if that makes the light go out? If it does, then I’ve got an invisible leak somewhere…

fill the MC to the full mark, then post back if the light doesn’t go out.

Bought some SuperTech brake fluid on the way home last night (12 oz, $1.00), and went right out and poured in the fluid! Looking into the filler neck of the reservoir, there are two (~1" long) vertical slots channeled into the wall of the neck and one (~ 1/2" long) vertical slot centered between these two slots. The fluid level was low enough to be below all three of these slots (although I think all three slots are at the same level along the bottom). Ended up pouring in half the container (~ 6 oz). Turns out there was a dirty “ring” around the reservoir neck about 3/4" from the lip, so I filled to this level (figuring that’s where it most likely WAS). Now when I shake the reservoir (gently), I can see the fluid swishing around at the MAX line.

Next I drove the car around the neighborhood, pumping the brake pedal 3 times every 200 ft or so.

The light is definitely OUT! But I can’t say anything more! The brakes still feel the same (fine) and I don’t see any leaks anywhere! So where did the fluid go? Most likely it’s going to be the (original) Master Cylinder, right? But the engine compartment appears dry all around it with no noticeable leaks around any of its tubing! Can it leak microscopically??? As I said, the light originally came on 14 months ago (actually longer than that - looking at my records, I changed the rear pads last on May 6, 2006, so the light came on just before that). So it’s been ON for 17 months!!! The fluid leaked somewhere (very slowly) over a 17 month period with no discernable performace degradation in the brake system!!!

Disposable car needs disposing. Get a fresher one.

Oh c’mon. The guy asked a legit question. A Taurus with 147K may or may not be on its way out. It’s not a disposable car if it gets him where he wants to go. I’ve owned several Tauri with close to 200K. I sold one today with 172K. With good care, 147K is not worn out. I assume you drive a Dodge van. That doesn’t make you the world’s leading authority on Tauri.

As far as the brake light is concerned, keep and eye on the fluid level. The fluid will automatically go down as the pads wear. Something has to replace the pads as they wear. It’s the fluid on the back side of the puck in the calipers. If you see liquid on the inside of a tire, around the master cylinder, or smell brake fluid inside the car, then worry about a leak.