Instead of the conventional parking brake or manual handbrake, most modern cars utilize an electronic parking brake or EPB. Generally, an EPB allows you to apply your vehicle’s brakes electronically at the touch of a button instead of a lever.
This feature comes in handy, especially when engaging the brakes at high speeds. But here is the thing; sometimes, a service electronic parking brake warning message may pop up on your car’s dash. And when it happens, your vehicle may start or fail.
Also, the message may disappear once you disconnect the battery for a while. This leads us to the question, what does service electric parking brake mean? In this blog post, you can find all the answers about the service EPB.
What Does Service Electronic Parking Brake Mean?
Generally, when the service electronic parking brake (EPB) message appears on the dashboard, it means the EPB system has potential problems. The problems can be caused by several things, such as:
- Battery issues or low system voltage
- Moisture in the rear taillight housing
- Poor ground connection
- Faulty EPB actuator motor
- Bad EPB switch
- Bad brake pedal switch or gear stick selector
- Corroded parking brake cables or dirty parking brake buttons
Below, we will discuss how each of the above items can cause the service electronic parking brake message to pop up.
1. Battery Issues or Low System Voltage
One of the common reasons the service EPB warning message can pop up on the dash is battery problems.
This happens when the battery is not supplying your vehicle’s electrical system with the correct voltage.
Generally, a low system voltage can wreak havoc on the electric system of the parking brake.
Sometimes, this can be due to the battery being old, a loose battery connection, or an open fuse.
- The message should go away if you disconnect the battery for a few minutes and hook it back. Then, start the car.
- If the above does not work, check for loose battery cables or open fuses and tighten them. Then, charge your battery.
- And if the light does not go away, replace the battery, especially if it is over 4 years old. To do the replacement:
Step 1: Get the new battery.
Step 2: Put your vehicle in park and turn off the engine.
Step 3: Pop up your car’s hood and disconnect the battery terminals, starting with the negative one.
Step 4: Unfasten any tie-downs and remove the battery from the tray.
Step 5: Clean the battery terminals. Then, install the new battery in the tray and secure it.
Step 6: Reconnect the battery terminals, starting with the positive one.
Step 7: Close your vehicle’s hood and start the engine.
2. Moisture in the Rear Taillight Housing
Sometimes, the rear taillight housing of your vehicle may retain moisture through the trunk’s panels.
This causes the electronic housing that pairs with the electric parking brake to get wet, triggering the service EPB warning message.
You should start by drying the inside of the taillight housing using a heat gun or hair dryer.
- Simply move the heat gun or dryer back and forth on the housing’s outside.
- After that, you can apply a little Vaseline on the light bulb socket seal’s mating surface. This is to prevent more moisture from entering the housing. You could also use a weather-strip adhesive to seal where the leak is.
However, if the moisture problem persists, the best solution is to replace the taillight assembly. (Our pick) can help in this case. And here is how to do the replacement.
Step 1: Disconnect the negative battery terminal.
Step 2: Remove the taillight covers and disconnect the electrical harness connector.
Step 3: Remove the bolts or clips securing the taillight to the vehicle’s body.
Step 4: Pry the taillight away from the vehicle. Then, disconnect the tail light bulb from the taillight.
Step 5: Install the new tail light assembly with a new bulb.
Step 6: Reinstall the electrical harness connector and taillight covers. Then connect the battery terminal.
3. Poor Ground Connection
Sometimes, your car may fail to start and display the service electronic braking system warning message on the cluster.
This happens due to poor electrical ground connection, reducing the electric current supply to the electronic parking brake.
And when the EPB does not receive adequate electric power, this usually affects how it works.
Fixing a bad ground connection in your car is an easy process. Here is how to go about it.
Step 1: Check for rust on the battery terminals, contacts, and wire lug. Then, clean the rust and replace any corroded washers or screws.
Step 2: Wiggle all the cables and wire connections to check if they are tight enough. If not, tighten them using a wrench.
Step 3: Check for any damage on the ground wire and replace it if necessary.
4. Faulty EPB Actuator Motor
Your vehicle’s electronic parking brake features a single-speed electric actuator motor mounted to the rear brake calipers.
When you activate the actuator with a push of a button, the electric actuator usually retracts the cables connected to the caliper.
Unfortunately, road debris, ice, snow, and mud can damage the EPB actuator motor and the harness connector. Rust can also damage the actuator and its wiring, causing the service electronic parking brake message to pop up.
The solution to a faulty electronic parking brake actuator is to replace it. In this case, (our pick) could come in handy. Below are general steps on how to replace the actuator:
Step 1: Disconnect the negative battery terminal.
Step 2: Use a jack and jack stand to raise the rear of your car off the ground.
Step 3: Remove the wheel on the side where the actuator is located using a tire wrench.
Step 4: Remove the caliper since most actuators are usually bolted to the caliper.
Step 5: Disconnect the wiring harness and electrical connectors to the actuator. Then, unfasten the screws securing the actuator to the caliper.
Step 6: Remove the faulty EPB actuator motor. Then, install the new one and secure it to the caliper with screws.
Step 7: Reconnect the wiring harness and electrical connectors. Next, put the caliper back and the wheel. Now, lower your car and connect the battery terminal.
5. Bad EPB Switch
The electronic parking brake is usually operated by a console-mounted switch that electronically applies the brakes. Here is what the switch looks like:
Unfortunately, the switch can get damaged by dirt and spilled drinks. In some cases, the switch can break, causing the service EPB warning message to appear on the dash.
One way to fix the switch is by removing any debris and dirt on the switch’s crevices using a clean cloth. You can also use compressed air to dislodge any debris stuck in the switch.
However, if the switch is broken or damaged, it must be replaced. In this case, you should let a mechanic do the job. This is because replacing the switch involves disassembling the console, which is a challenging task.
6. Bad Brake Pedal Switch or Gear Stick Selector
Over time, the brake pedal switch may wear out or get damaged due to frequent use and exposure to dirt or moisture.
When this happens, it can be difficult to shift out of PARK, causing problems with the electronic parking brake.
Similarly, a faulty gear stick selector due to a broken cable can make it impossible to shift any of the gears including Park.
The solution here is to replace the brake pedal switch immediately. You can find the switch mounted on the brake pedal level or tucked under the dashboard. To replace it:
Step 1: Remove the switch’s wiring harness.
Step 2: Unbolt or unclip the switch from its mount.
Step 3: Install the new switch.
As for the gear stick selector, you will have to replace the broken cable. However, because of the complexity of this job, you should let a qualified technician handle it.
7. Corroded Parking Brake Cables or Dirty Parking Brake Button
Water and dirt can cause your vehicle’s parking brake cables to corrode, causing the EPB to fail. Also, the cable can corrode due to not using your vehicle regularly.
Similarly, the parking brake button can malfunction due to dirt, dust, and other debris. Consequently, this can cause the electric parking brake to malfunction.
First, disconnect the brake cables from the brake backplate. Then, spray some WD-40 inside the cable to get rid of the corrosion.
Alternatively, you can start your car. Then, shift it into drive and reverse to help loose the rust. Or, engage and disengage the parking brake several times.
If the parking brake button is dirty, get an antibacterial wipe and clean it, including its surroundings. And if you spot tiny debris stuck between the button and its housing, use a toothpick to pry them out.
What Are The Signs of Your Vehicle Having EPB Issues?
Some of the common signs you may notice if your vehicle’s EPB has issues include the following:
- Failure of EPB to engage
- EPB light or lamp blinking
- Warning lights on your dashboard
- Difficulty braking
- Screaming or alert sound
- EPB release button not functioning
However, these warning signs may vary from one vehicle model and brand to another.
Before we conclude, let’s quickly go through some commonly asked queries regarding what service electronic parking brake means.
Is it safe to drive with the service electronic brake message on the dash?
Yes, you can but as little as possible. However, it is generally not recommended. This is because ignoring the message could lead to more damage and expensive repairs.
Can I fix the cause of the service EPB message myself?
Yes, if you are mechanically inclined. However, it is advisable to call your mechanic immediately if you notice your EPB is malfunctioning. A mechanic can troubleshoot and fix the issues.
Can resetting the electronic parking brake erase the service EPB message?
Yes. Resetting the EPB will clear the service EPB warning message temporarily by releasing the brake pads and moving to the right position. However, resetting does not fix the underlying issue causing the problem.
If you get the service electronic parking brake message on your dash, it is an indication the EPB system has issues. These issues could be caused by many things, such as a bad battery or even moisture in the rear taillight housing.
A poor ground connection, faulty EPB switch, or actuator motor can also cause the EPB to malfunction. Luckily, you can fix most of the electronic parking brake issues by replacing the faulty parts. But if you are not mechanically inclined, you can always get a qualified mechanic to help.
Meet Zayan, the mechanical genius behind the highly acclaimed brakes problems and solutions website. With over a decade of hands-on experience in the automotive industry, Zayan has become a trusted authority in the realm of brake systems.
His passion for cars, coupled with his expertise in solving complex brake-related issues, has earned him a devoted following of car enthusiasts, mechanics, and everyday drivers seeking reliable guidance.