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Brake light stays on, mechanic says it's safe to drive. Is that true?

Dodge Ram 1500 4x4 1994. Brake and Abs lights come on at 15 mph and stay on.

Last Friday my mechanic replaced the brake shoes, turned rotors - brake job. Brake and ABS lights remain on when driving, but truck brakes quite well.

When the lights first came on, last Thursday, I found the brake fluid in the resevoir was low, so I added fluid (but lights stayed on so that’s why I took it to mechanic on Friday.)

My mechanic told me that there is no brake fluid leak and that since the fluid was low, if I drive the truck for about two weeks the rest of the brake system should get the needed fluid and when it does the brake and ABS lights will go off.

Over the weekend while driving, those lights stayed on and it worries me. But should I be worried? Is my mechanic correct that this is safe to drive and the lights will go off once the fluid courses through the system?

You absolutely need a new mechanic! Find one that actually knows something about the brakes and ABS on your truck. Until then, there is no way to know if it is safe to drive.

There’s something wrong with the primary brake system. When the brake warning light comes on the ABS light automatically comes on. This is because the ABS won’t function if there’s a problem with the primary brake system. So until it’s found what’s causing the brake warning light to come on and it’s repaired so the light turns off, both those lights will remain on.


Are you saying that what he told me is Not True - that because the fluid in the resevoir was low when the lights first came on, and I added brake fluid to the resevoir, that if I drive it for a couple of weeks the lights will go out once the brake fluid courses through the system? I can tell a big difference in how well the truck brakes after he replaced the brake shoes, did the rotors and all last Friday. He said that the computer chip for ABS and brakes sensed the low brake fluid but once the added fluid courses through those lights will go off. He told me there are no brake fluid leaks. He checked the ABS computer chip in front of me and said that IF the lights stay on after a couple of weeks, then to bring it back and he’d replace the ABS computer.

If he is wrong, then what would cause the brake lights to stay on? I don’t know of any other mechanic in this city so if I have to find a new one, I want to know what could be the cause of this so that I’m not lied to by some new mechanic. (I’m blonde, 51, widowed - I need to be able to understand/speak intelligently with a new mechanic so that I can tell if the next mechanic knows anything or not.)

It is absolutely not true that "if I drive the truck for about two weeks the rest of the brake system should get the needed fluid and when it does the brake and ABS lights will go off. "
If the problem is truly that the brake fluid got that low, then the system will have to be correctly bled for it to work again. However, you probably have other problems. There’s no need to guess at it. The ABS controller knows why it has turned the warning light(s) on. A Dodge specific code scanner can read out the diagnostic codes, and those will point to what needs to be tested/repaired.

You need to find a good independent, or a good Dodge dealer.


Your mechanic is a moron. He doesn’t know what he’s doing, and he’s endangering his customers rather than admit that he doesn’t know how to fix brakes. Properly installed and bled brakes do not need “a couple of weeks for the fluid to get to the rest of the system.”

He might even have damaged your brake system due to his stupidity. Take it to another mechanic right away.

Do you have 4 wheel ABS or 2 wheel ABS (RWAL - Rear Wheel Antilock). RWAL was standard on my 95 Dodge Dakota pickup, 4 wheel ABS was optional.

RWAL uses a single sensor mounted on the pumpkin on the rear axle instead of a sensor on each wheel. When the ABS light lit up on my Dakota (don’t recall if the brake light came on or not, I think it did), the dealer replaced the sensor under warranty. When the light reappeared a second time, I replaced the sensor again. The light stayed on so I replaced the wiring harness from the sensor to the frame side rail. The light did not reappear the rest of the time I owned the truck.

If your truck has RWAL, try cleaning the connectors at the sensor and the side rail. The Brake light can come on for low fluid, but should go out once the master cylinder is refilled. The mechanic’s explanation about waiting 2 weeks makes no sense at all. A second opinion is in order.

Ed B.

I thank you all for your information. It made me nervous driving over the weekend with those lights still on. My mechanic was in partner with his brother, who died. I have the feeling it was his brother who knew vehicles much better than he does, given what you all have said.

I’m looking online at reviews of mechanics in my town and will also phone the one honest, good transmission only mechanic I know for his recommendations of a good brake mechanic.
Thank you all again.

While late to the party, count my vote as one for the mechanic being either:
A. “Uninformed” to use a polite term.
B. Plenty informed and he’s giving you a brush-off line of BS because the easy money has been made and he simply does not want to be bothered with it anymore.

Do a search for problems related to the brake warning light (really would like to know which one) staying on but there really is no problem. I am not saying this is your concern (problem, we were taught never to use the word “problem”)but the condition can exist. You see it yourself, your brakes work fine (albeit no ABS). We did see this situation very rarely with e-36/46/39 BMW’s where you could not get the light to go out without a module re-program but nothing was wrong with the brakes.

I do not think your mechanic has researched this condition enough to say to you"OH it is just a monitoring glitch" he absoulutely cannot say “it will take a few weeks for fluid to work it’s way around”.

If he isn’t certain why the light is on he hasn’t a clue whether it is safe to drive.