Although pressing brake pedal and ignition button, error on panel says to push brake to start.

Tiny
JANAJOBEAR
  • MEMBER
  • 2006 CADILLAC XLR
  • V6
  • 2WD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 39,000 MILES
I have the car about 8 yrs and this is a first. I had just ran some errands, stopped and start, and ended up at grocery store. I came out, put groceries in trunk, and attempted to start car as normal (push on brake and push ignition button). Car did not start, alert chimed and error came up "push brake to start". I tried several more times, and same error kept coming up. Gear shift was in park, and of course it is locked in place while car is not running, so I COULD NOT take it out of park to push back in. I tried wiggling it the gear shift several times, and still the error message. I tried pushing harder on the brake pedal, and still the error message. I finally ended up having to be towed home. Someone suggested that the brake light fuse might have blown, breaking the circuit to the ignition. I'm somewhat handicapped, and trying to crawl into the passenger side floorboard to look at fuses is going to be very difficult for me. And I didn't mention that I was female, because that should not make a difference. But, before I hurt myself, does this synopsis make sense, or should I look somewhere else first? Please don't make me take this to the dealer. Our local dealer sucks big time!
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Friday, April 11th, 2014 AT 5:53 PM

7 Replies

Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
It amazes me how many people complain about GM dealers and GM's customer-unfriendly business practices, yet they still buy their products. Oh well. An easy way to tell if the brake light fuse is blown is to check if the brake lights turn on when you press the brake pedal.

You're right about being female doesn't matter. Three of my top students were girls, and the guys had a lot of respect for them. Most guys today are clueless about the extreme overuse of unnecessary technology on cars.
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Saturday, April 12th, 2014 AT 11:42 AM
Tiny
JANAJOBEAR
  • MEMBER
So that's it? Your snide comment about why I bought a Cadillac when I don't like the local Dealer, and the "instructions" on how to check if brake lights work? Are you kidding me? Of course I had already checked to see if brake lights work. Like, "dah". So you can't address whether that COULD be the cause or not. Just say so. Otherwise, your "professional comments" are worthless. And just for YOUR information, now pay attention, YOU might learn something, the very next day after having been towed home, the damn car started right up, and has not done it again since. I think I will seek an actual professional and get their opinion on it.
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Tuesday, April 15th, 2014 AT 1:12 PM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
I find it real interesting and odd that you would actually assume I know a detail or fact about your problem when you don't bother to list it. Believe it or not, I'm not psychic. You're right about my comment on GM. That IS my opinion, but it's the opinion of a real lot of former owners who have said, "never again". It's why GM has to advertise constantly for new customers. As I told my students, "you are welcome to like any brand of car you want to, just don't tell me yours is better than mine, ... Unless you can tell me why. Facts can be argued and manipulated; opinions can not. YOU were the one who stated a negative fact about the dealer. I just agreed with you.

As for checking the brake lights, that would be a revelation to about half of the visitors to this sight. You are out-of-line if you assume I think you're too dumb to check that first. You didn't take the time to say you already did that, so you can't assume I think you did. An appropriate response would have been, "I checked the brake lights already, so I know the fuse is okay". My reply would have been my standard, "Dandy; now we can move on to some more in-depth diagnosis. Instead, you CHOSE to be offended, and assume I'm too stupid to know you already did that.

You DID choose to tell me about the errands you ran, as though I'm supposed to care, or that's relevant to the story. Here's the best part:

"trying to crawl into the passenger side floorboard to look at fuses is going to be very difficult for me"

Why do you feel you have to check the fuses if the brake lights work? ANYONE would assume based on that comment that you did not check the lights. That's why I suggested it. That is not my only suggestion, as you apparently assumed. That is just the start of the conversation. I've stuck with people through over 50 replies until we found a solution. Sometimes it has taken weeks or months, but I rarely give up. At this point anything I suggest is going to be met with hostility and sarcasm, so if you'll excuse me, I have a number of grateful new friends I'm working with who are waiting for me to research their problem and figure out how to solve it.
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Tuesday, April 15th, 2014 AT 2:29 PM
Tiny
JANAJOBEAR
  • MEMBER
Having gone back and reread my original text, IT APPEARED TO ME TO READ THAT I WAS LEFT HAVING TO CRAWL UNDER TO LOOK AT FUSES, BECAUSE I HAD CHECKED TO SEE IF THE LIGHTS WORKED. IT ALSO APPEARED TO ME, AND MAYBE I AM WRONG, BUT BY WRITING THAT IT HAD BEEN SUGGESTED TO ME THAT IT MIGHT BE THE BRAKE LIGHT FUSE, THAT I WOULD IN FACT CHECK THAT SUGGESTION BEFORE ASKING YOU IF THERE WAS SOMETHING ELSE COULD BE SUGGESTED. Evidently you and I had a miscommunication that got us nowhere. Now, I would again like to ask your opinion and/or advise, is there something else I could check that could have caused this problem. Or if you prefer, refer me to someone else or another website that I might be able to remedy this problem. Thank you.
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Tuesday, April 15th, 2014 AT 4:25 PM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
There ARE other experts here more qualified on specifically GM cars because that's what they mainly work on. My specialties are brakes, suspension and alignment, and mostly, electrical. That's why I answered your post.

There's no need to go hunting for a blown fuse yet because the brake lights are working. The issue now is there can be up to three different parts to the brake light switch. Usually they all run on the same fuse, but that isn't true on every car model. To complicate things even further, there is going to be a computer involved in the starter system whenever there's a push button starter. There could be a problem with one part of the brake light switch that's not related to the brakes lights, or there could be a problem with that computer.

If by some chance you were using the cruise control the last time you drove the vehicle, and it stopped working during that trip, that would suggest a fuse for that circuit had blown. I suspect though that's a clue we don't have.

Next, even if you were lucky enough to find a blown fuse, it blew for a reason. I have some tricks for locating the cause of that, but if checking the fuses is difficult for you, you're not going to want to tear the dash apart to diagnose an electrical problem.

You said you got towed home. Does that mean with a tow truck and the wheels were off the ground, or someone pulled you with a chain? If they pulled you, that implies you were able to get the gear shift out of "park". Most commonly stepping on the brake pedal to release the gear shift uses a solenoid that is powered by the same brake light switch circuit that tells the computer when it's okay to start the engine. That would be a clue that the computer is not interpreting the signal from the brake light switch, and we have to suspect a defective computer. If that is wrong, and you still can't get the gear shift out of "park", that points to a less-serious cause, ... Not a computer problem.

Unfortunately, with all the computers the engineers have hung onto every part of our cars, you need a scanner to view live data and to command the computers to do things. You might consider asking at a few local auto parts stores that rent or borrow tools if they have a scanner to loan out. Every brand and model is different, but together we should be able to figure it out. Basically you want to look at the computer involved with the starter system. That is usually the Engine Computer or the Body Computer / radio. The brake light switch will be listed as something like "pressed" or "released", or "yes" or "no". Regardless of how it's listed, you should see it change when you press the brake pedal.

By the way, be sure you checked all of the brake lights, meaning the center high-mount light AND the two in the corners. The center light is fed right from the brake light switch on its own circuit. The other two can be on the same circuit or a separate one, possibly with their own fuse. It depends on whether the brake lights and the rear turn signals are the same bulbs. A lot of vehicles have gone to separate bulbs to remove the turn signal switch as part of the brake light circuit. (That makes it miserable to wire a trailer connector). Also, any rear signals that are yellow are separate from the brake lights.

I realize that may be hard to tell unless you can watch them when a helper turns things on and off, but that is one of the clues or observations we look for. Also, if you can get the chimes to pipe down for a few seconds, listen if you can hear the click of the solenoid near the gear shift lever when you press on the brake pedal. If you hear a light click, that part of the brake light switch is working, (and you should be able to shift out of "park").

Thanks to a recent major house fire, I don't have access to my service manuals to see how the circuit is wired on your vehicle. Without knowing those details, my suspicion is the brake light switch is defective. The section that controls the brake lights is okay, but a different part of it controls the cruise control, and possibly the shifter lock and starter system. To add more confusion, which isn't my intent, failing switches typically work sporadically at first before they fail completely. You tried pressing the brake pedal multiple times, so at some point it should have worked. That would argue against my suspicion of a defective switch. That's where the scanner is needed, so we can see what the computers are seeing.

Sorry I have to run until tomorrow. The library is closing. Before I forget, you don't have to go to the dealer with this problem. Every good-size city has one or two independent shops that specialize in electrical problems. You might want to drop in at a couple of them. If this is a common problem that they've seen before, they might suggest what the most likely repair involves.
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Tuesday, April 15th, 2014 AT 6:19 PM
Tiny
JANAJOBEAR
  • MEMBER
Thank you VERY MUCH for the extensive dialog. It ALL made sense to me. I will look into a couple of the independent shops around and make some inquires.

Just FYI: It could not be taken out of Park, so the tow truck driver used dollies on the back tires and pulled it up on a flatbed.

Thank you again for your suggestions. It does give me the different options to look for which was what I was asking for. You have indeed been most helpful. Thank you again, Jana
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Wednesday, April 16th, 2014 AT 2:25 PM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
Dandy. When the problem is solved, and if they tell you in terms you can understand, please post the results so I can add it to my memory banks.
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Wednesday, April 16th, 2014 AT 3:18 PM

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