handbrake light comes on while driving

ford Escort
While driving my handbrake light comes on. I believe that the handbrake switch is not malfunctioning. Light works correctly for handbrake lever.
Bought car second hand, no manual came with car.
Also, still cant use the 5000 RDS EON properly without manual. It has a cd button on it but I dont know where to put the cds
My first Ford, Nissan and Citroen before this,
Thanks for any help offered, Keith
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[This followup was posted to alt.autos.ford and a copy was sent to the cited author.]
says...

Check your brake fluid level. Sometimes, the brake symbol does double- duty. If your fluid level is low, check your front brake pads. As they wear, the pistons have to push out further, causing the fluid level to drop. When it reaches the point where it's low, your brakes may be due for a change. If the pads look good, then you should also check for any leaks. If you change the pads, get the brake fluid flushed and refilled while your at it. That gets rid of the moisture the brake fluid absorbs over time.

If it doesn't have a slot in dash, it's probably for a separate changer, typically found in the trunk. If it's not installed, you need to buy one.
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Andrew, Thanks very much, spot on diagnosis. The brake fluid level is sitting on min. From your sugestions it seems that it would not be the wisest decision to blindly top the fluid up. My next checks are pads then leaks. Does brake fluid levels lower over time naturally, without a fluid leak, from evapouration, burning or other means?

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On my 99 Taurus the light came on when the parking brake was still on a bit or when the pads were low and ready to replace redid brakes no light since. good luck

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Thomas Moats opined in wrote

Well, YES. But for the reason cited in Thomas' link. I think he meant YES.
;)
Anal, aint I?
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wrote

No, the no was for the thought of evaporation, or burning. Does not happen. So you are not anal, just wrong.
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Thomas Moats opined

But the "OTHER means" she mentioned are covered in the fact that, as the pads wear, the pistons moves out, taking some fluid from the res. In that case, answer is "Yes"
So in the normal properly functioning disk brake system, no fluid is "lost" even if fluid in res drops a little.. If you have to add more than a few ounces of fluid, you MAY be losing it somewhere... possibilities are leakage into the rubber boots past the "piston seals... this happens more often in the rear drum brake cylinders, in my limited (about 20 brake jobs) experience.
I've had some pretty nasty calipers, to the point they were sticking due to rust but never saw the piston seals leak fluid.
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"Does brake fluid levels lower over time naturally, without a fluid leak, from evapouration, burning or other means?"
Look at the question. The answer is no.

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