You’re gearing up for a journey, ready to conquer the roads with your Ford F-150. But your plans come to a halt when the truck refuses to start, accompanied by the confusing “Check Brake System” message.

Not to worry, though; I’ve got your back. In this article, I’ll go through all the fixes you need to try before starting your adventure.

Ford F150 Check Brake System Warning And Won’t Start: Causes And Fixes

The Check Brake System warning on an F-150 means there are issues with the wiring, messed-up connectors, low brake fluid, or anti-lock brakes (ABS).

2010-2023 f150 check brake system Warning Causes

Now, let’s get into the thick of it, shall we?

1. Brake Fluid Is Low

When your brake fluid is low or contaminated, it can cause the “Check Brake System” light to come on and even prevent your truck from starting.

Low fluid levels allow air into the brake lines, messing with your brakes and triggering the warning light. Contaminated fluid, from moisture or dirt, can put a wrench into the truck’s functions.

Modern vehicles have sensors that detect these issues and stop your truck from starting to keep you safe.

Also, if your brake fluid level is low, the Ford F150 parking brake light won’t turn off, which is another common issue for F150 owners.

Fixing Up The Brake Fluids

  • Ensure it’s at the recommended level; top up if low with appropriate fluid.
  • Look for a milky appearance; if contaminated, flush the system and replace the fluid.
  • Remove air bubbles by bleeding brakes, starting from the farthest wheel to the master cylinder.
  • While you’re at it, check the pads, discs, and calipers for wear/damage; replace worn parts.
  • Test brake responsiveness, and absence of warning lights, and see if you can get the truck to start.

2. E-Brake Pedal Wire Harness Issue

The wire harness near the emergency brake pedal can break more easily because it moves a lot and feels pressure, especially when releasing the brake. If you find that your Ford F150 parking brake won’t release, this could be another related issue you might want to investigate.

Using the emergency brake and the bumps from driving make it wear out faster than other parts of the wires.

This extra wear and tear can mess up the connections, causing the “Check Brake System,” “ABS,” and “Service AdvanceTrac” lights to come on all at once. 

It can also trigger the safety systems since this brake is incredibly important. That’s likely why your truck isn’t starting.

Fixing And Securing The Harness

  • Locate the wire harness near the emergency brake pedal bracket.
  • Gently detach the harness from the bracket, being careful not to damage the wires or connectors.
  • Identify and unplug the wires, noting their connections for reassembly.
  • Inspect wires and connectors for wear or damage; repair or replace as needed.
  • Reconnect wires securely, ensuring correct placement.
  • Secure the harness in a stable location using zip ties to prevent movement.
  • Test connections to ensure warning lights are off; adjust if necessary.
  • Reassemble the bracket securely without putting excessive stress on the wires.
  • Start the vehicle and check for warning light illumination.

3. Faulty Electrical Pins Near Handbrake And Engine Bay

Corrosion in electrical pins near the handbrake and in the engine bay triggered the service advance trac and check brake system alerts.

Corrosion disrupts signals between components, leading to these warnings. 

This can also deprive essential components like the starter motor of power, preventing the car from starting.

Fixing The Messed-Up Electrical Pins

  • Get electronic contact cleaner spray and dielectric grease (Should cost less than $30).
  • Spray the electronic contact cleaner into the problematic plug.
  • Use compressed air to remove debris.
  • Apply dielectric grease generously on the female plug, covering the pins.
  • Blow excess grease into the plug with compressed air.
  • Clean and grease other plugs in the engine bay, especially ABS plugs.
  • Securely reconnect all plugs, ensuring tight connections.
  • Try to start the car, and check for alerts. If none appear, the issue might be resolved.

4. Emergency Brake Connector Issue

The truck can display “Service Advance Trac” and “Check Brake System” alerts, likely due to a faulty connector near the e-brake.

This connector is vital for the braking and ABS systems.

If not properly linked, it disrupts communication between systems, causing Ford F150 ABS module problems, triggering such alerts and messages like hill start assist not available Ford F150, since these systems rely on accurate electrical signals.

As a side effect, the truck can also fail to start as brake issues can trigger safety systems and make the F150 refuse to start.

Fixing The Specific Connector

  1. Turn off the vehicle before working and use gloves and safety glasses. Work in a well-ventilated area or use a mask with contact cleaner.
  2. Locate the connector near the e-brake with wires connected to it.
  3. Identify and release the cam-lock mechanism securing the connector halves.
  4. Inspect the plug for damage like bent pins, corrosion, or melted plastic.
  5. Straighten bent pins carefully if found.
  6. Clean corrosion with a contact cleaner and a brush; let it dry.
  7. Realign and firmly press the plug halves together until they click.
  8. Ensure the cam-lock engages with a click.
  9. Check for any remaining dashboard alerts and see if the truck starts.


Can I drive with the Check Brake System error?

Yes, you can drive, but exercise caution. It’s best to have the braking system checked soon to ensure safety. Ignoring the warning will affect braking performance.

Can Hill Descent Control fault cause the Check Brake System error in F-150? 

Yes, a Hill Descent Control fault can lead to the Check Brake System error. However, it’s usually no hindrance in starting the truck, unlike the other reasons and error combos we went through earlier.

Final Thoughts

So there you have it: when your Ford F-150 displays the “Check Brake System” message and refuses to start, don’t panic. Just make sure to get the alert taken care of, ASAP. 

It’s a vital indicator of underlying issues. 

Just follow my instructions, and as always, remember to maintain your truck. 

Regular checks and timely fixes, whether related to brake fluid or wiring, can save you from unexpected starting troubles.

Drive safe and good luck!

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