I have a 2001 Honda CRV which hasn’t given me a bit of trouble until now. I’m in central PA, and as the weather has gotten colder, I find the parking brake light is on even when the brake is not engaged. On mornings when the temperature is balmy, it doesn’t come on, and it goes off if the day warms up. What could cause this, and need I worry about fixing it?
This light alarms you not only about parking brake engaged, but also on your brake fluid level being low. Check the level, and most probably you’ll need to add some. If the level is fine, you need your car serviced…
Right. If the brake fluid level was borderline before, it probably contracted w/onset of cold weather, turning on brake light. Your description of the balmy days and ambient temp going up on a given day is more confirmation. Please post back- I’d love to know if this is it. Fluid being low doesn’t necessarily indicate a problem. As any disc brake pads wear down (normal) the caliper piston has to stay
further out. Fluid moves forward to take up slack; fluid level in resevoir reads lower. MishaA is right- if problem persists or if the brake pedal now feels “spongy”, have it checked out- Brakes- safety.
If you do need to add brake fluid, make SURE that it’s the proper stuff for your car. A lot of manufacturers stamp right on the brake fluid reservoir cap what specific type of fluid to use. Typically, it’ll say “Use DOT 5” or “Use silicon-based fluid” and it will give you a DOT number, like DOT 6. Your Owner’s Manual will also have this info. If your brake fluid reservoir is the white or clear plastic reservoir, after cleaning the outside of the reservoir, you’ll see two horizontal lines on the side of the reservoir. The lower one means add fluid. The upper one means full. That way, you can check the fluid level without having to take the reservoir cap off unless you need to add fluid. Do not mix different fluids. That would screw up your whole braking system. Before you open the reservoir cap, clean it off of all dust, oil residue, etc. Clean the underside of the cap using a clean, non-lint rag and a little bit of denatured alcohol available at most hardware stores and probably auto parts places. Don’t use household rubbing alcohol as it has stuff in it that leaves a residue. Lanolin, I think, which will tend to attract dust. Get a new can or plastic bottle of the proper fluid. Clean up around the top and cap of the brake fluid container. After untwisting the container cap,carefully remove the aluminum foil seal. DO NOT shake up the fluid. It’ll introduce air in the form of bubbles into your brake system. Then carefully pour fluid into the reservoir up to it’s full mark. Do not overfill as warmed up or hot brake fluid expands and it’ll at least leave you an oily mess to clean up. Put cap back onto container and re-secure the reservoir cap. Working on or around a brake fluid reservoir, the rule is “Cleanliness is next to Godliness”. If that doesn’t work, it could also be that in below-freezing weather, that you have developed ice on the hand brake cable or on hand brake components inside the brake assembly. Get that checked out by a good independent mechanic if the fluid top-off doesn’t resolve the issue.