Parking Brake Light On (Failed VA State Inspection Because of It)

Discussion in 'Gen 2 Prius Care, Maintenance and Troubleshooting' started by anya_jade, Jul 8, 2014.

  1. anya_jade

    anya_jade Junior Member

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    Hi all!

    Quick question. I have a 2006 Prius that I've had since 2012. The parking brake light was intermittently having a hard time turning off every time I disengaged the brake and became more inconsistent until finally, now, for about 6 months the light has just remained on the entire time, regardless of whether or not the brake was engaged.

    Just to clarify the brake is still fully functional and will prevent the car from rolling when engaged.

    I recently failed my inspection because of the light. The mechanics of the brake are fine, but the light wont turn off. They quoted me around $1,000 to fix due to them having to rip out the whole dash to get to the parking brake assembly (8 hours of labor, yay) I did not have $1,000 to drop, so I didn't get it done and left with my rejection sticker.

    I've done a lot of research and found that I can buy a whole assembly for roughly $150 or just the switch for around $25, however, is there any way to access the pedal to do the repairs without having to take the interior of the car apart?

    I've also heard that it could mean my brake fluid is low? But they didn't mention that during the inspection.

    Alternatively, would you suggest/is it possible to somehow simply get the brake light to turn off (a fuse or way to pull the bulb, etc.)? I simply want to pass the inspection and it seems ridiculous to pay $1,000 to fix a problem that does not affect the car mechanically in any way.

    Thoughts? Ideas?

    (P.S. doing a replacement of my front passenger headlight myself tomorrow(it keeps turning off while I'm driving), found the HID bulb on Amazon for $43, anyone else find it ridiculous that AutoZone/Toyota Charge $150-$175 for the same bulb?)
     
  2. nh7o

    nh7o Off grid since 1980

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    It is indeed a serious amount of disassembly to get to the pedal, as far as the service instructions go. It starts with "Drain the AC system", and gets worse. You don't want to go there. I would say that this is really poor engineering on Toyota's part to make that assembly so impossible to remove.

    However, the switch you want can be reached without any disassembly, if you are reasonably agile and push the driver seat all the way back. On the upper portion of the brake pedal assembly, there is a single wire coming off. It is a small red wire inside of a black plastic corrugated loom. You can see the red wire if you collapse the loom a bit to expose the end. That wire plugs into the parking brake switch assembly. If you can pull that plug off, your parking light will go off. Here's a diagram.

    Pretty easy fix.
     

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    #2 nh7o, Jul 9, 2014
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2014
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  3. anya_jade

    anya_jade Junior Member

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    Thank you! I was so hoping I'd be able to get to the switch without taking that all apart. I will let you know how it goes!
     
  4. Patrick Wong

    Patrick Wong DIY Enthusiast

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    Further, if there is any doubt about the brake fluid level, open the hood and look at the brake fluid reservoir. It is marked with maximum and minimum fluid levels on the side of the reservoir and is located on the passenger-side of the hood compartment.

    If you find that the fluid ls low, only use DOT3 brake fluid from a new container. The reason for this is that brake fluid is hydrophilic (easily absorbs water vapor) and brake fluid in a non-sealed container will develop a lower boiling point. This is bad news because if your car's brake fluid starts to boil, you will have zero braking ability.
     
  5. anya_jade

    anya_jade Junior Member

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    Yep, checked that when doing the headlight replacement, it is at maximum.
     
  6. Mike500

    Mike500 Senior Member

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    Could also be that the parking brake cables need to be loosened a bit.
     
  7. Easy Rider

    Easy Rider Active Member

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    If you still have your owner's manual, look up the description of that light.
    On many models, the "brake warning" light functions both for the parking brake AND other brake system faults too.
    It might not be a parking brake problem at all.
     
  8. nh7o

    nh7o Off grid since 1980

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    The wire mentioned above only goes from the parking brake switch to a skid control ECU input. The lights on the dash are controlled well down stream so will still operate normally.
     
  9. Easy Rider

    Easy Rider Active Member

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    The point I was trying to make is:
    Screwing with anything associated with the parking brake might NOT fix the problem.......as that MIGHT not be where the problem really is.
     
  10. anya_jade

    anya_jade Junior Member

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    I mean, the shop I took it to, and my own looking determined that it was the switch that was busted. like, the parking brake crushed the switch due to poor design. I'm about to go outside and try and just get the light to turn off now by doing as nh70 said.

    Like I've said, the brake itself is fully functional, as are my vehicle brakes, mechanically the car is having no problems braking and is operating normally, it is simply the light on the dash that will not go off. This happened gradually over time, it was not an instantaneous thing, I would have to engage and disengage the parking brake several times at various depths to try and get the light to go off, and then one day nothing I did would get it to turn off.

    Is it possible to replace the switch without doing intricate surgery or is there no access to the screws I would need to get to from underneath?
     
  11. nh7o

    nh7o Off grid since 1980

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    The one screw that holds on the switch is not accessible from the side facing the interior. It might be possible with a right angle screw driver, and immense patience.
     
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  12. Mike500

    Mike500 Senior Member

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    My favorite;



    They are $19.99 at your local Northern Tools Store.

    There is a $5 off coupon in the current issue of the Family Handyman Magazine.

    Or, if you want just the screwdriver.

     
  13. anya_jade

    anya_jade Junior Member

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    So, an hour and a half later and I managed to get the brake light off and I replaced my passenger HID lightbulb.

    I now understand exactly what you mean about needing a right angle screwdriver and immense patience. I almost ran out of the latter just trying to get the cable unplugged from the switch assembly. It has a tiny catch that you somehow have to press that is the size of 1/2 of a needle nose plier that you just cannot press while the switch is attached to the brake assembly unless you have freaky long/skinny/dextrous hands the likes of which I've never seen. Luckily(or not?) my switch was apparently not well seated in the brake (probably caused by whatever destroyed the switches functioning. And it actually fell off and I was able to unplug the cable from it. The light is off. Badabing!

    Gonna go take it for inspection tomorrow!

    Thanks so much, nh70! You definitely just saved me $1,000 visit to my mechanic.
     
  14. Mike500

    Mike500 Senior Member

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    Back in the 1970's, I used to hate Virginia State Inspection. It was every 6 months, then.

    They used to take off the front wheel bearing to check the brakes.

    They would get dirt in the bearing and the bearings would fail often.

    I'm glad they now have disc brakes, and I'm also glad that I now live in South Carolina, where there is no state inspection.

    I hear that the lines are terrible at the end of the month for state inspection. And, they really gouge you for wiper blades and light bulbs.

    Yes, I lived in Nawfolk.
     
  15. anya_jade

    anya_jade Junior Member

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    Yeah, I've had them, on past cars, try to fail me on wipers, and charge $50 to replace them.

    I mean, I understand that the dash light indicators are important and all, but they failed a car that has no mechanical problems, simply a stuck light. Yet that wouldn't pass. Oh well, gonna go try tomorrow now that I've got the light off!

    Oh, and my registration went up on my vehicle last year by like, $50 dollars because I am driving a "fuel efficient vehicle" so I 'don't pay enough of my fair share in gas tax to keep the roads in operable order'. Such. B.S.
     
  16. Mike500

    Mike500 Senior Member

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    I hear that they built this light rail system on the backs of the taxpayers and started to charge tolls on the tunnels, again.

    Now, I believe that it worse than Los Angeles.
     
  17. anya_jade

    anya_jade Junior Member

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    YEP. Went through the midtown tunnel 2x back in April to get my boyfriend ready to deploy and they JUST (as in 2 days ago) sent me the bill for it for $3,75, but if I don't pay by the 28th, I will get charged $27.50 in late fees/penalties. Just a smidge ridiculous I would say.
     
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