You’re cruising down the highway, jamming to your favorite tunes, when suddenly an ominous orange brake warning light pops up on your dash. Uh oh, that can’t be good. You feel a pit grow in your stomach. What does it mean when the brake assist or BAS warning light comes on? Am I about to lose braking power? Is my car still safe to drive? How much will this cost to fix?
I feel ya. Warning lights popping up on the dash when you least expect it can really put a damper on your day and leave you full of questions and worries. But take a deep breath my friend, the situation may not be as dire as it seems.
The brake assist system warning light turning on does NOT mean you’ve lost brakes or are in imminent danger. While it could indicate an issue that needs attention, oftentimes it’s something simple.
In this handy guide, I’ll walk through the common causes for the brake assist light to come on and the steps you can take to get it turned off and your brakes working properly again. I gotchu covered!
By the end, you’ll have the knowledge to diagnose and fix minor brake assist problems yourself or at least know the right questions to ask your mechanic. Let’s dive in and shed some light on that pesky brake warning lamp!
Table of Contents
What the Heck is Brake Assist Anyway?
Before we get into the nitty gritty of why the brake assist light turns on, it helps to understand what exactly the brake assist system does.
The brake assist system, also called BAS or emergency brake assist, is an additional braking safety feature that helps apply full braking force in panic stop or emergency situations.
Here’s how it works:
Sensors on your car detect when you suddenly slam on the brakes hard, like if a kid runs into the street and you need to stop ASAP.
When this happens, the brake assist system kicks in to help make sure you have maximum stopping power available.
It further boosts hydraulic brake pressure to shorten braking distance. Think of it like the brakes going into max power mode!
This extra oomph helps decrease stopping distance. It can be the difference between successfully stopping in time versus a collision or accident. Pretty important safety stuff!
The system stops assisting once the emergency braking event is over and you let off the brake pedal. Then normal brake operation resumes.
So in summary, brake assist provides an extra blast of stopping power when you need it most. Now let’s get into why the darn brake assist warning light keeps bugging you!
Common Causes of the Brake Assist Warning Light
Alright, you’re cruising along without a care in the world when suddenly the brake assist light pops up on your instrumental panel like a mood killing party pooper.
Some common issues that can trigger the brake assist warning light include:
- Low brake fluid
- Worn brake pads
- Faulty ABS module
- Loose or damaged wiring
Let’s explore each of these common culprits a bit further:
Low Brake Fluid
One of the simplest causes of the BAS warning light is low brake fluid.
Your brake fluid reservoir supplies hydraulic pressure to apply the brakes. If the level is too low, there won’t be enough fluid volume and pressure for the brake assist system to function properly.
Topping off your brake fluid reservoir is often all it takes to extinguish the brake assist warning light if it came on from low fluid.
Some vehicles also have a brake fluid level sensor. If the sensor detects the fluid level dropped too far down, it will trigger the light. Again, adding more brake fluid until the reservoir is full will typically solve it.
So check that brake fluid y’all! Topping it off takes 2 minutes and can save you from further headaches down the road.
Worn Brake Pads
Did you know your brake pads have wear sensors built into them? It’s true!
As your brake pads wear down over time, eventually the sensor will reach the rotor and trigger the warning light to come on letting you know it’s time for new pads.
In this case, the brake assist system is illuminating the light as a warning about excessive brake pad wear, not an actual problem with the system itself.
But it’s still wise to heed the warning and get those puppies replaced so you don’t damage the rotors. New pads = no more brake assist light.
Faulty ABS Module
The anti-lock brake system (ABS) module is a key component that controls the ABS and brake assist systems.
If it stops functioning properly, the brake assist system can get scrambled and cause the BAS warning light to come on.
In most cases of a faulty ABS module, the only real fix is to replace it. And yes, the module contains electronics so it’s not exactly cheap.
On the bright side, at least you’ll have a fully functioning brake assist system again!
Loose or Damaged Wiring
Lastly, take a good gander at the wiring harness connected to the brake assist system and ABS module.
Like other sensors and electronics on your car, the brake assist components need proper electrical connections to work their magic.
If wiring gets damaged or connections come loose, it can interrupt the electrical signals and trigger the BAS warning light.
Carefully inspect the wires and connectors associated with the brake assist system. Look for chafed or cut wires. Make sure connectors are fully plugged in.
Any wiring issues discovered can be repaired or replaced as needed. Then you can hit the road once again light-free!
Steps to Diagnose and Fix Brake Assist Light Issues
Alright, we’ve covered some of the usual suspects when it comes to the causes of a dreaded brake assist warning light popping on.
Now let’s run through some troubleshooting and steps you can take to track down the problem and get repairs made:
Step 1 – Check brake fluid level: As mentioned above, low fluid is a very common reason for the BAS or brake assist light to illuminate. Start by opening the hood and checking the level in the brake fluid reservoir. If it’s low, top it off and see if the light goes off.
Step 2 – Inspect brake pads: Since worn brake pads can also trigger the brake assist light, take off a wheel and visually examine the thickness of the pads if fluid level was fine. Measure pad thickness and compare to manufacturer specs. Replace pads if worn below minimum thickness.
Step 3 – Scan for ABS codes: If the fluid and pads checked out, trouble codes pointing to issues with the anti-lock brake system module are next on the checklist. Use an OBD-II scanner to pull ABS codes and diagnose.
Step 4 – Check wiring harness: With no codes set, take time to inspect the condition of wiring related to the brake assist and ABS systems. Look for chafing, loose plugs, etc. Repair any wiring issues discovered.
Step 5 – Replace ABS module: If all else checks out, it points to a faulty ABS module as the cause. Replace it and that should finally get rid of the darn brake assist warning light!
Don’t Ignore That Brake Warning Light!
Welp, that about covers the main reasons your brake assist or BAS warning light can pop on and the typical fixes.
The most important takeaway here is if that brake warning light comes on – do NOT ignore it!
Get your car into a shop for a brake inspection right away. Identifying and addressing the issue promptly keeps your family safe.
Sure, it could just be low fluid or worn pads. But it’s best to let the pros handle it to be 100% sure your full braking capacity is intact.
Following the steps outlined here will get the light turned off, your brake assist system working properly again, and your nerves calmed!
Drive safe out there folks. And may your dash remain free of exclamation points!
There you have it – an in-depth look at why the brake assist warning light illuminates and how to get it fixed. With causes ranging from low fluid to worn pads to electrical gremlins, several issues can trip this sensor. But now you’re armed with the knowledge to get to the bottom of it!
We covered what brake assist does, why the light turns on, wiring woes, the damning ABS module, and step-by-step troubleshooting. You’re ready to diagnose and repair minor brake assist problems or at least get pointed in the right direction.
Ignore that dash light at your own peril. Get any brake issue checked immediately so you can stop with confidence. Here’s to smooth, light-free cruising ahead!