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June 20th, 1999
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Continued from last week.

I think the single MOST DANGEROUS light is the Brake Warning light and now with Anti-Lock Brake systems, there may be TWO lights. But lets just deal with the standard brake warning light first.

This light will come on when there is a loss of pressure in one section of the brake system. (Most vehicles have two systems so that a major leak will cause loss of braking to only two wheels.) BUT (And that is a BIG BUT.) most vehicle use the SAME WARNING LIGHT TO SHOW IF THE PARK BRAKE IS ON and this can cause a very dangerous situation. If you loose brake system pressure to two wheels, the vehicle will NO LONGER STOP PROPERLY and could result in an accident.

I don't know how many times I have seen people driving vehicles that had the system warning light on and ASSUMED that it was just a problem with THE PARK BRAKE. I got accused of trying to Rip a guy off once because he came in for an Oil change and my Technician saw his Brake Warning light was on, so he checked it out and found a broken brake line to the rear wheels. When I suggested that we repair his vehicle, I was told that he was well aware of how us Mechanics worked and he KNEW that there was nothing wrong with his brakes. He said that the light we were talking about was only for the Park brake and he never used it anyway. He really got upset when I told him that I could not allow his car to leave the shop unless it was on a Tow truck, as it was unsafe and I could not LEGALLY let an unsafe car leave my shop. He called the Police and was amazed to find out that I was right and the Police Officer waited around until the guy had a Tow truck pick up his car. But, the Police Officer came back a little bit later and told us how this guy had just had his car towed around the corner and dropped off. The guy got in and drove the car away but the Police Officer pulled him over.

The Officer issued him a ticket for operating a UN-safe Motor Vehicle and had the car impounded. I even had another guy tell me that he wasn't concerned about the Brake Warning light being on and not having proper brakes because it was his Wife's car and all she ever did was drive around town with the KIDS and she never drove fast and wouldn't have to stop hard. (??????) I 'll. bet you can image what happened to him. If the Brake warning light comes on, check the fluid level in the Master Cylinder first and if the level is down more than normal, you have a problem. This suggests that there may be a leak somewhere and you may not have proper brakes.

I DO NOT recommend that you drive the vehicle AT ALL because if you have an accident, who is to say if you were operating an unsafe vehicle or not. (From a Legal standpoint that is.) If by necessity you have to drive the vehicle, BE VERY CAREFUL and remember that the vehicle WILL NOT STOP PROPERLY and only drive to where you can get help.

Once again, that is why the light is RED because it means DANGER.

Next week, I will get into ABS warning lights and a few neat things that people should know about them.

"TOOT" Rick "The Wrench" - June 20th,1999
Copyright of Rick The Wrench, 1999

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