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Depress Brake To Start Engine means that you need to press the brake pedal, keep it pressed, and start the engine.

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Keep the brake pedal pressed, then start the engine. 

start engine depress brakes

Depress Brake To Start Engine warning comes up often because the driver is not pressing the brake pedal hard enough or the brake light switch is defective

What does Depress Brake To Start Engine Mean?

Depress Brake To Start Engine means to press down on the brake pedal, then start the engine. 

Vehicles equipped with automatic transmission require that you press the brake pedal before pushing the START/STOP button or starting the engine.


If your vehicle displays Depress Brake To Start Engine, first ensure the gear selector is in Park positionpress the brake pedal down hard, and then push the engine switch to start the engine. 


If the vehicle doesn't start, press the START/STOP button using the key fob. 

If you have a vehicle with a manual transmission, you may need to press both the clutch and brake pedal to start the engine. 

If the vehicle won't start when you turn the ignition or press Start/Stop and your car has a remote start, try starting the vehicle using the key fob remote or app. 

Common Problems

Brake Light Switch 

Faulty Brake Light Switch

The brake pedal must be depressed to let the Engine Control Unit (ECU) know that you pressed the brakes.

Depress Brake To Start Engine comes up in most cases because the driver is not pressing the brake pedal hard enough or the brake light switch is faulty. 

The brake light switch on a modern vehicle is a complicated device designed to do much more than turn on the brake lights. Learn more about the brake light switch and its many functions. 

Gear Selector

Depress brake to start engine shifter not in park

Another common issue is that the gear selector is not in Park but has accidentally been moved to Drive or Reverse. Move the gear selector back to park and start the engine. 

If that doesn't work, continue keeping the brakes pressed, but move the shifter to Neutral, then try to start the engine. Place the transmission back in Park before you release the brake pedal. 

The gear selector can prevent the vehicle from starting. If the gear selector can not signal the engine control unit (ECU) that the transmission is in Park, the car won't start. 



Defective Ignition or Stop/Start button can cause the Depress Brake To Start Engine warning message to come up. Troubleshooting the Stop/Start button requires a professional-level scanner. 

Weak battery

Depress Brake To Start Engine  DEAD BATTERY

While a weak battery may have enough power to unlock the doors, it may not allow the Body Control Module (BCM) and Immobilizer to boot up and run properly.  

If the battery is weak, you may also notice several other warnings such as ABS, tracking control, and other warning lights coming on. 

Most auto parts stores such as Advance Auto Parts and AutoZone can test your battery and charging system free of charge. The other option is to get a 12 Volt Car Battery Tester and test the battery and charging system yourself

Brake booster 

Brake Booster Problem

Problems with the brake booster, master cylinder, expansion tank, check valve, and vacuum leaks can prevent the driver from pressing the brake pedal all the way. 

If the brake pedal is hard when the engine is running is a common symptom indicating that the problem can be due to a bad brake booster. 

Starter failure

While not a common problem, we have seen BMWs that won't start due to a bad starter.

The brake pedal can be hard to press, and warning lights such as AWD, ABS, Airbag, and DSC Malfunction come on. On a BMW, read codes from CAS and DME modules before you replace the starter. 

Troubleshooting a car that won't start due to electrical problems can be difficult even for experienced mechanics. 

Check the basics and, if necessary, tow your vehicle to an auto repair shop or mechanic to have it diagnosed by a professional. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do I have to press the brake to start my car?

  • For safety reasons, most cars are designed not to start unless you press the brake pedal. Avoid accidents if you try to start the engine when the transmission is in Drive or Reverse. Unless you press the brake pedal, the switch in the brake pedal will not close, and therefore you won't start the engine. If you have a manual transmission, there is also a switch on the clutch pedal, which means you need to press the clutch pedal to start the car. 

Do you have to push the brake pedal to start the engine?

  • Yes, on most newer cars, you need to press the brake pedal to start the engine. This is a safety feature, and most manufacturers have integrated this feature in all 2000 and newer vehicles with automatic transmission. 

Why is it important to keep your right foot on the brake while starting the engine?

  • For two reasons. One is that the engine won't start unless you are pressing the brake pedal. The second reason is due to safety concerns. If you start the engine without pressing the brakes and in gear, the vehicle will move as you crank the engine and cause an accident. 

Can you start a car without pressing the brake?

  • No, unless an automotive technician has bypassed the brake switch. 

Which vehicles are affected by this warming? 

  • Depress Brake To Start Engine may come on in many makes, including Acura, Audi, BMW, Ford, Chevrolet, Dodge, Chrysler, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota, Honda, Volkswagen, Volvo, etc. 

What does depress brake pedal mean

  • It means you need to press the brake pedal. You depress the brake pedal every time you bring the vehicle to a stop. 

Can't depress the brake to start the car?

  • Press the brake pedal hard a couple of times, then keep the brake pedal pressed and try to start the car.