The “Brake Override Malfunction” is a rare issue that can occur in your vehicle, but it is easily manageable and can be resolved without causing any inconvenience or danger.

When this error appears on your car’s dashboard, it may catch your attention, but with proper guidance, it can be fixed quickly, allowing you to continue with your daily routine without any disruption, whether it’s leaving for work in the morning or embarking on a trip.

The symptoms associated with this issue are minor and can be quickly resolved with the help of a diagnostic software tool.

Despite its intimidating name, brake override malfunction is not a major issue, and there are only a few reasons why it may occur, most of which are relatively easy to fix and don’t require any expensive parts.

In this article, we’ll delve into the various causes of this issue and provide simple solutions to each one.

What Does The Brake Override Malfunction Mean?

Brake Override Malfunction
A Brake Override Malfunction error is displayed on a car’s dash.

A brake override malfunction occurs in a vehicle’s electronic control system, where the software that controls the brakes and accelerator becomes confused and fails to respond to the driver’s acceleration input.

In most cases where you see this error, there actually is a fault that’s causing the car to think that someone’s tampering with the gas and brake pedals. Some very common causes for this include a blown fuse or a broken brake pedal switch, though there are more subtle ones.

The Brake Override Malfunction is also called the “Brake and Race Pedal” error because it is sometimes identified by the brake and race pedal symbols on the dashboard of the vehicle.

How Does Brake Overriding Work?

Your brake override system is in place to protect you from improper pedal use and prevent potential malfunctions and accidents caused by it.

If you, for whatever reason, voluntarily or involuntarily press the brake and the acceleration pedals at the same time (maybe in a frantic attempt to slow down the car,) the sensors will notice unusual behavior and put brake override into effect.

The brake override tries to clear the confusion by doing the thing that’s usually safer: instead of uncontrollably speeding up, it will slow the car down. It’s worth noting you can turn the brake override off, but it’s not recommended to do this if you haven’t fixed the underlying cause!

What Causes The Brake Override Error + How To Fix

Here are some of the most common causes that may give you a hint of what to check if you have this error:

A Blown Brake System Fuse

This is an extremely common issue, and thankfully, it’s also easy to solve. A fuse blows when there is a current overload in a circuit, protecting the components from damage and/or fire. The fuse can blow as a one-time event if an unusual event happens, but if it keeps happening, it’s likely there’s an underlying electrical issue.

You can usually find fuses in fuseboxes near or under the steering wheel, around the glovebox, under the hood, next to the battery, and/or in the rear. Check the fuses using a probe, and always replace them only with a working fuse of the same marking, never higher!

A Faulty Brake Pedal Switch

Another one of the more frequent causes is a faulty brake pedal switch (or the brake pedal positions sensor), which can trick your car into thinking the brake pedal is depressed when it is not. This piece of electronics is usually a simple microswitch that activates once you press the brake pedal and lets the car know you’re acting on the brake pedal.

In this case, you should check the wiring leading to the sensor and replace the switch if there seems to be a problem with it. The sensor is usually located under the dash, near the pedal itself.

A Faulty Airbag Module

You might be confused at first, thinking, what does the airbag module have to do with the brakes? It’s simple: the brake system and the airbag system both have a safety role, and they communicate with each other.

So, if a fault occurs in your brakes and leads to a brake override, the airbag may shut down too. You may notice this in the form of an airbag warning light and on newer cars a warning message in addition to the light.

Before replacing the module, make sure that it’s not a sensor or the wiring that’s causing the issue. It’s also best not to tamper with the airbag unless you’re a professional, as accidentally triggering an airbag not only damages the car but can also cause severe injuries. Even worse, you don’t want the airbags to not deploy in the case of a crash!

Issues With The ABS Module

The ABS module is the main control unit for the brakes, and if it fails, it’s possible you’ll get a brake override warning. While this is less common than a brake switch fail or a blown fuse, it can still happen, even in newer cars.

Replacing the ABS control unit can be costly, depending on the vehicle, so do check with your local service about the price.

Other Issues

There is a multitude of other potential issues that can cause a brake override error. Worth mentioning are: 

  • Corroded, broken, or incorrect wiring
  • Tameping with the braking or any related system
  • Replacing brake lights or rewiring them incorrectly
  • A weak battery in the key fob

You can only get a more precise clue about the issue after checking with a diagnostic tool. It’s time-consuming and unnecessarily painful to try to blindly guess what’s the issue. If it’s more than just a blown fuse and you don’t have the appropriate tools, it’s best to send your car to a car shop.

Brake Override Malfunction Error Resetting Guide

Blinking Brake Override Malfunction error message.

If you encounter a brake override malfunction error on your car, there is a universal temporary solution that may help you get back on the road until you can take your vehicle to a mechanic. It’s important to note that while this method should work on most vehicles, there may be different methods for different cars.

Here are the steps you can take to reset the brake override malfunction error:

  1. Disconnect the battery terminals, starting with the negative terminal first and then the positive.
  2. Connect the two cables to each other and hold them in place for 15 minutes. This will not affect anything in the car since the battery power has not been connected.
  3. With the cables still connected, turn the headlights knob in your car to full. This will drain all the electrical power from your car, which will reset all of its electronic systems.
  4. After 15 minutes, plug the cables back into the battery, starting with the positive first and then the negative.
  5. Once the battery terminals are well connected, start your car and the brake override malfunction error should be gone.

Keep in mind that this is only a temporary or emergency solution, and you should take your car to a mechanic as soon as possible. Additionally, this may not be a permanent fix, so it’s best to get your car checked out by a professional.

Can You Drive With Brake Override Malfunction?

In some cases, you’ll still be able to control the car, while in others you might not be able to change gears and drive at all. In either case, a brake override malfunction is a failure of a crucial safety system of your car, so it’s best to get it checked and fixed as soon as possible.

For a short period of time, you can ignore the brake override issue and turn the system off. The procedure for this differs from car to car, so you’ll have to find the exact procedure in the owner’s manual. You should only do this so that you can get your car to the repairer.

Conclusion

A brake override malfunction is a safety issue, but it’s usually not a difficult fix. The telltale sign is a dashboard warning, while other symptoms can include a malfunctioning gearbox, airbag, and brake system.

If the fuses and the key fob battery are ok, there’s not much you can do without professional equipment, and you should get your car checked since driving with a brake issue can be dangerous.

By Milica Cikuša

Milica, the car guru with 4 years of experience in the auto world. She slays at fixing German cars, but ain't afraid of Fiat or Ferrari either! Tired of the lack of quality car diagnostic blogs, she's now breaking the mold with her independent writing. When she's not tinkering with cars or typing away, you'll find her working on her second novel, surrounded by her two feline sidekicks.

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