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Brake light on, check engine light on, sticky gas pedal

I need some advice. My brake light has been on for a while, probably 2-3 months. At first, if I deeply depressed the brake pedal, the light would go off for a while, but then eventually come back on. As my mechanic had told me only 2 months earlier that I was good for another year at least, I didn’t worry too much about it, and the brakes have been working just fine.

In the last two weeks, I’ve had a new issue, my check engine light has started coming on. First, for just a day, then off for a few, then on for two days, and off for a couple, and now just yesterday it’s come on again. I’ve noticed too that the gas pedal sometimes sticks at first before depressing when I step on the gas. It doesn’t take a huge amount of force to get it down, but it’s definitely become noticeable in the last 24 hours.

I have an appt. with my mechanic, but not for a week (it’s a popular shop). I’m worried that I am going to do some horrible irreperable damage to my engine if I continue driving it. But I’m a rather poor teacher, and renting a car for a week would be very expensive indeed. Can anyone give me any insight into what might be going on?? Thank you so much!!

I forgot to mention, its a 2000 toyota solara.

The two problems that your car is trying to warn you about are almost certainly unrelated. The brake warning light is the more important of the two, and it is very irresponsible to be ignoring it. What you do with your own life is up to you, but in this case you are a danger to the rest of us too.

For safety sake, have a neighbor, or someone, check the brake fluid level, and add brake fluid if needed. It could be dangerously low. Your mechanic’s reference was to the wear of the brake pads being thick enough for another year. That was a pretty honest thing to tell you. Others may have told you that, if the wear left more than half, it was time to change the brake pads. That’s a reflection on your mechanic. The present problem is urgent, and has nothing to do with brake pad wear.
Some of the auto parts stores, like Auto Zone, Advance, will read the check engine light and tell you the code from the scan, for free. Do that and bring those codes here. You just need to bring the numbers (like P0399).

The throttle body needs cleaning and that may or may not be related to the check engine light. You do need to get the brake fluid checked immediately.

Are those oil change places equipped to check and change the brake fluid as well? Do they normally check the brake fluid during an oil change? Because I had one done just a little bit before this happened. Sorry, total novice here, but thank you for the advice!

An oil change can be just that, and absolutely nothing more. Have the brake fluid checked right away. The brake system needs further tests/inspection. Hemming and hawing is not advised.

You are about a week late at calling your known relatives and asking for money. You did say you were a slow learner. Oh, sorry, poor teacher. Oh you were talking about your money situation! The word is irreparable. Don’t feel bad; I had to get the dictionary for that one. All that work just to score a minus five points. They don’t call me mister sensitive for nothing. They do it as a joke. The mechanic meant that your brakes probably had another year of wear left. When the red light comes on, that advice no longer applies. If you can ignore the engine light for a week, you can do it for a few more days. If it starts to flash (blink on and off), shut the engine off.

Are those oil change places equipped to check and change the brake fluid as well?

No,  They may have the hardware, but they have a very very poor record of even doing oil changes that you should never ever go there.  It has to do with the business model, that does not allow enough money to hire staff that is capable and does not allow enough time for the staff to do a proper job even if they knew how.  

Ignoring either light is foolish.  The engine light can be dangerous because you may find your engine suddenly turning off while you are on the freeway and maybe in a part of town you don't want to be in.   It may well end up costing you some expensive repairs because you filed to fix  the little thing that the light is indicating needs attention.  The brake light could be indicating a problem that could cause your brakes to fail.  Both could be very cheap and quick to fix.  Don't put these things off, especially if you drive in central Ohio.

You have at least two separate problems, perhaps more than two.

The immediate problem is that you are in imminent danger of losing your brakes, due to a low level of brake fluid in the master cylinder.

You want to know if “those oil change places” are capable of checking the master cylinder, and my response is–yes, they are capable of checking it, and they are also capable of putting the wrong fluid in the master cylinder, thereby causing damage to the brake hydraulic system. Each week, we hear of horror stories of severe damage inflicted on various parts of cars by the kiddie employees at quick oil change places. If your mechanic is truly a decent person, he will not mind taking 5 minutes from his busy schedule to fill your brake master cylinder properly.

As Keith stated, the “sticky” gas pedal is probably an indication that the engine’s thottle body needs to be cleaned. While this is not as urgent as the situation with your brakes, this is also, ultimately, a safety issue.

As to the Check Engine Light (CEL), that is an indication that there is a problem with either the ignition system or the fuel system of the car, and that situation is causing the engine to emit more pollutants than usual, and most likely to use more gas than usual. It is possible that cleaning the throttle body will cause the light to go out, but if your mechanic is truly competent, he will do a scan of the car’s OBD II system to determine exactly which trouble codes have been stored by the car’s computer. Be prepared for more repairs than just cleaning the throttle body.

Incidentally, as a retired educator, I am dismayed to see that you–a teacher–have apparently NOT read the Owner’s Manual that is sitting in the car’s glove compartment. If you had read the manual, you would have known that ignoring the brake system warning light is potentially dangerous. And, I will add my editorial comment that to ignore a brake system warning light for 2-3 months is…just plain stupid. Your inaction has placed you and everyone around you on the road in danger. Reading the Owner’s Manual would also have provided you with information regarding the meaning of an illuminated CEL.

Overall, I would give the teacher an “F” grade for her failure to maintain her car properly, her failure to exercise an adult sense of responsibility, and for choosing to ignore the car Owner’s Manual.

Ah yes, I forgot how much some pompous self-important discussion board denizens like the above and below enjoy a good flog to inflate their fragile egos. While I understand that auto mechanics are apparently the one thing in your life you’re any good at, and thus you’ve got no choice but to lord that knowledge over others and brow beat them to death as much as you can, it’s really rather obnoxious and unnecessary.

Thank you tardis, hello kit, keith and meehan, for your prompt, stern, though not impolite response. I appreciate it, and will get my car checked out today.

Good day all.

I always find it amusing when someone does something stupid like ride around with a brake warning light on and then says it’s unnecessary for people to ride them about it. CLEARLY, the message has not sunk in prior so, from an objective standpoint, it really does appear to be necessary. Mechanics aren’t the only ones with common sense that take exception to people who place others at risk due to their ignorance.

In addition, Ms. Ladynature incorrectly assumes that “auto mechanics are apparently the one thing in your life you’re any good at”. I will not bother to list my degrees and my accomplishments in both the educational field and the legal field, as I am sure that she will not return to a site where people made her face the reality that she has been irresponsible–in the extreme.

But, just in case she does return, she should be aware that many of the frequent contributors to this board hold degrees in disciplines such as engineering, mathematics, computer science, statistics, and countless other areas of study. And, while she might like to discount the importance and the talents of those who are trained auto mechanics, the fact remains that she has acted in an irresponsible manner for an extended period of time. Unfortunately, she has a hard time accepting valid observations about her lack of adult-level responsibility.

She may be a wonderful teacher, but she is ultimately immature and unable to accept criticism. Hopefully she is not transmitting those negative traits to her impressionable students.

OP didn’t even cite the correct spelling. Four years of trade school down the drain.