Brake light stuck on after center console work

Hi, I have a Honda Accord 2003.

After factory recall work to replace a defective circuit board in the center console, the CD/radio/clock lights work again. But the Brake light on the instrument panel came on that day and has been stuck on since then.

I took the car back to the dealer and they say the float in the master brake cylinder is stuck and I can fix the light be replacing the master cylinder ($550).

I’m skeptical, since the light came on just when they did the center console work.

Is there something else this can be?

Or maybe some percussive maintenance is in order for the master brake cylinder?

Thanks in advance for suggestions.


I presume that light monitors the parking brake lever & the master cylinder.

All the dealer needs to do to prove their point to you is to remove the connector from the master cylinder switch & if the light goes out they are correct & at least the switch is bad.

If the light stays on the problem is with the parking brake lever switch. Is that in the center console on your car?

These 2 switches simply ground the voltage coming to them from the bulb when theres a problem.

Let’s be generous and assume that the float in the master cylinder has been stuck for years, but you didn’t know about it because that defective circuit board has also been bad for years, and it kept the light off. Even then, Google says a new master cylinder for your car is around $150. I’m guessing that a good quality rebuilt master cylinder will run you about $75-100 from an independent mechanic after he marks up what the parts store charges him.

Unless swapping out a master cylinder in a Honda Accord is unusually difficult, I can’t imagine that it takes more than 1-1.5 hours. Throw in $10 for brake fluid and you are probably looking at around $175-250 from an independent mechanic … assuming that the mechanic can’t break the float free (which he probably can’t because the dealership would have done that) … or remove it entirely.

Odds are the problem is related to the park brake switch in the console. The only way the brake light should be on if the car really had a “stuck float” would be if the brake fluid were low, the fluid was refilled, and the float did not rise as it should. Even then, it’s a simple matter to unstick it.

My vote is for the console switch and I agree with 87 Ranger on all points.

You are quite right, light monitors parking brake and master cylinder.
I took apart the center console to convince myself the parking brake switch works correctly, grounding when set and open circuit when brake’s off.
So I did as you suggested, unplugged the master cylinder connector and took off the parking brake => light went out. Seems like there must be something wrong in the master cylinder.

So now I am to the point of troubleshooting the float on the master cylinder. I see the filter on top, but cannot see the float in the reservoir. Will hunt around some…

See above – took apart the console and found the switch in good working order. Really odd that the brake light came on when the dealer did the center console work, unless something else had come loose in the meantime.

Now to troubleshooting the brake fluid float.