What does intermittent brake warning light mean?

I have a 1996 Honda Civic and after a pretty long day trip, my dashboard brake warning light came on, then went off, several times. My brakes feel & sound fine. Any thoughts what this could be. Please say it’s not serious!!

The brake fluid level in the master cylinder may be low. Check the fluid level.


the warning light is an indicator.

it indicates that you have some kind of brake issue, problem, or potential problem.

usually the light means you have reached (or exceeded) the life of your brakes, and you may need a brake job.

another possible problem may be the brake fluid level may be dropping (due to either brake caliper leaks, or normal wear.)

or (maybe the simplest) your emergency brake lever may be getting ‘held up’ a little bit, making the light come on. (check under, around the emergency brake lever for stuff (pens, pencils, bottle caps etc) there which may be not letting the lever go all the way back down to let the light go off.)

if you can’t figure this out, then you should have it looked at by a local mechanic.

your brakes are your life… literally!

Brake fluid dropping to the point that the light blinks generally means it’s time to check the pads.

What is happening is that the fluid is now out of the reservoir (where the float is located that trips tha light) and is residing in the brake cylinders because the pads are worn down and the pistons thus are more extended.