In order to maintain the highest level of safety, fuel economy and reliability, almost all modern cars have on-board computers – typically referred to as the ECU.
Located throughout the vehicle are sensors which relay information back to the ECU, and when something is not right, the ECU triggers information to the driver.
This information is relayed to the driver often via dashboard warning lights. These lights, or ‘symbols’ may have another message to aid the driver to better diagnose the issue.
Dashboard symbols are assigned a colour in order to provide an indication of the urgency of the problem. Green and blue symbols provide the driver with information only. For example, you main-beam headlights are on (blue) or that your directional indicator is on (green). Symbols that are orange or amber inform the driver that something needs to be done soon, but is not urgent. This could be an engine service for example. Red symbols relate to an urgent problem, particularity those that flash or are accompanied with an audible alert. Please note that many of these lights will illuminate on engine ignition and shortly go out after a few seconds.
This section covers the dashboard warning lights of various models of Honda cars, including the Civic, Accord, CRV, Jazz, HRV, Oddyssey, Pilot and Ridgeline. Some of the Honda dashboard warning lights may differentiate to those found in your car due to vehicles being made during different years and manufactured in different counties.
Honda brake dashboard warning light symbol
If symbol comes on while driving, there are two possibilities: the brake fluid is low, or there is a malfunction in the brake system. Lightly press brake pedal to check pedal pressure. If pedal feels OK, check brake fluid level the next time you stop. If pedal feels spongy, take immediate action as the braking system has malfunctioned. Slow down using engine braking if necessary to stop the vehicle. Avoid driving and have brakes checked by an authorised Honda technician. If symbol flashes, there’s a problem with the electric parking brake. Avoid using the electric parking brake and have checked. If the light illuminates in amber, avoid using the parking brake and have system checked. See why is the brake light on?
Honda Automatic brake Hold dashboard light
This is a safety system that automatically keeps the brakes applied after you have released the brake pedal and until you press the accelerator pedal. This is for temporary sue, such as waiting in a queue of traffic for example. System will hold the vehicle for around 10 minutes. Symbols vary depending on location of manufacture.
Low Oil Pressure dashboard Warning light
If you see this symbol illuminate whilst driving, immediate action is required. As soon as safe to do so, pull over and turn off the engine. Leave the engine off for around 3 minutes and check the oil level. Top-up if required and restart engine. If symbol remains off, drive as usual, if it remains on after 10 second, immediately turn off engine as low oil pressure can damage the engine. Do not attempt to start engine as serious mechanical damage is likely. Contact a Honda garage for repair. See how to check engine oil for a complete in-depth guide on checking your car’s engine oil and topping up.
Malfunction Indicator dashboard Warning light
This Honda malfunction indicator lamp (or engine management light) illuminates (steady) to indicate a problem with the emissions control system. This is not urgent but will require attention soon. If symbol flashes, stop as soon as possible, turn off engine and allow to cool down for 10 minutes. This is to indicate a misfire with the engine cylinders has been detected. Take vehicle to Honda dealer as soon as possible.
Engine Temperature Indicator dashboard Warning light
This engine temperature warning light may illuminate on certain models of the Honda Fit / Jazz or certain older models of the Honda Civic and Accord. If the light flashes red, this indicates the engine coolant is increasing and continuing to rise. Drive slowly to prevent overheating. If the light comes on (non-blinking), stop immediately. Allow engine to cool and check engine coolant. See what is engine coolant for a description on how to check. If the engine coolant lights in blue and stays on when engine up to running temperature, this indicates a problem with the temperature sensors. This is not an emergency but should be checked soon. See engine temperature warning light explained.
Battery dashboard Warning light
The battery warning light will come on while driving to indicate that the battery is not being charged. If the light illuminates, turn off anything in the vehicle that is drawing an electrical charge, particularly those that draw significant power such as rear window defogger and the climate control system. If you stop temporarily, do not turn off the engine as starting uses a significant draw on battery energy. See Why is the battery light on for information what to do.
Honda IMA Battery dashboard Warning light
IMA or ‘Integrated Motor Assist’ is Honda’s hybrid car battery technology. The IMA light will illuminate to inform the driver that a battery pack is no longer charging. Replacing the battery pack will enable the IMA light to go out.
Anti-Lock Brake System dashboard Warning light
The anti-Lock Braking System (ABS) helps to prevent the wheels from locking up under braking and therefore allowing greater control. ABS essentially pumps the brakes rapidly, whilst continuously monitoring signs of wheel lock-up. ABS is a safety feature built into most modern cars and is a separate component to your normal brakes. If the ABS light comes on your Honda dashboard while driving, it signals a problem with your ABS. Normal brakes will work as usual, though due to the ABS malfunction, your wheels are more likely to lock under heavy braking or slippery road surfaces. Have the system checked as soon as possible.
Honda Airbag dashboard Warning light
Light should come on when you start the car and go out shortly after. Typically associated with the airbag, if this symbol illuminates there can be a problem detected with any of the following: supplemental restraint system, side airbag system, side curtain airbag system or the seat belt tensioner. If the light stays on permanently or does not come on at all at ignition, have vehicle checked immediately. For further information about airbags and possible faults, see why is the airbag light on?
Honda Civic Immobiliser Key Dashboard Warning Light
The immobiliser key dashboard warning light is for older versions of the Honda Civic and helps to protect the vehicle from theft. When ignition is switched to ‘on’, immobiliser key light should briefly illuminate then go off. If light blinks, it means the system does not recognise the coding of the key. Turn the ignition switch to the ‘lock’ position, remove the key, reinsert it and turn the ignition switch to the ‘on’ position again. If your Civic still fails to start, contact a Honda technician.
Stability Assist dashboard Warning light
The Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) dashboard symbol will blink when the system has been activated. VSA helps to keep your car stable when the vehicle becomes unstable. If the VSA light illuminates constantly, there is a fault with the system. Have it checked by an authorised Honda dealer.
Electric Power Steering dashboard Warning light
The Electric Power Steering (EPS) light should come on for a short period of time with engine ignition and go off shortly after. If the light fails to come on at all, or comes on constantly while driving, the EPS system has failed. Symbol may come on with increased engine revs and steering will feel heavy. This can be to do with the EPS centre point steering angle being lost from memory. Disconnected battery, blown fuse or low battery can cause this issue. Stop vehicle, turn off and restart engine. If the EPS, VSA, VSA OFF, CMBS and low tyre indicator light come on simultaneously, the VSA and EPS systems need to be calibrated. Driving at a speed of more than 12 mph will calibrate the systems. If none of the above works, have vehicle checked by Honda Specialist.
Low Tyre Pressure dashboard Warning light
Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) light comes on with ignition and should go out shortly after. Light may come on when ignition is switched to ‘ON’, but car has not been moved within 45 seconds to indicate self-calibration has not yet completed. If light stays on, this indicates that one or more of the tyres has a significantly low pressure, or the system has not been calibrated. Check tyres pressures as soon as is safe to do so. If tyre pressures are good and light remains on, calibrate TPMS. MAke sure the vehicle is at a total stop, set manual transmission to ‘N’. variable transmissions to ‘P’ and ensure the ignition switch is set to ‘ON’. If symbol flashes and you do not have a compact spare tyre installed, there’s a fault with the TMPS. See tyre pressure warning light keeps coming on.
System Message Indicator dashboard Warning light
The Honda System Message Indicator (i light) will come on along with a beep to indicate that there’s a problem. On the driver information interface, a message will appear detailing the problem. While the light is on, press the display/information button to see the message again.
ECON Mode Indicator dashboard Symbol
This symbol illuminates to inform the driver that Honda ECON mode has been enabled. ECON mode helps the driver improve fuel economy by adjusting the performance of the engine, the transmission, cruise control and the climate control system.
Maintenance Minder Indicator dashboard Symbol
This Honda yellow spanner or ‘wrench’ will illuminate on the dashboard when scheduled maintenance or a service is due. Maintenance minder will typically inform you of the oil life in your engine when it has only 15% remaining of life and is due for a change. You can display maintenance minder by selecting the ignition to ‘ON’ and by repeatedly pressing the ‘trip’ knob until the oil lifespan appears on the information screen.
Smart Entry System Indicator dashboard Symbol
The Smart Entry System Indicator light will illuminate on the Honda dashboard as soon as a problem is detected with the Smart Entry System, or the push button starting system. If it stays on constantly, have the vehicle checked by a Honda technician.
Starter System dashboard Warning Light
The starter system warning light should go out shortly after engine ignition. If it remains on, or comes on while driving, there is a problem with the starter system. As a temporary measure, press and hold the ENGINE START/STOP button for up to 15 seconds, while pressing the brake pedal to manually start the engine. Seek assistance from a Honda engineer.
Road Departure Mitigation dashboard Warning Light
The Road Departure Mitigation (RDM) light comes on when there’s a problem and the system shuts down. There are two possible issues; the temperature inside the camera unit is too high. Use the climate control system to cool it down. Or the area around the camera is blocked by mud and dirt. Clean the area around the camera. If these fail, see assistance from a Honda dealer.
Adaptive Cruise Control dashboard Warning Light
Amber – The Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) light comes on with Low Speed Follow (LSF) indicated that there is dirt covering the radar sensor and will prevent the radar from detecting the vehicle in front. Clean the area around the radar sensor. Light may also come on during bad weather as it struggles to detect and may automatically cancel the system. Green – Will come on when in operation, but when ACC with ASF is in operation and the temperature is too high in the front sensor compartment, system may cancel along with a beep. Use climate control to cool the camera down.
Lane Keeping Assist System dashboard Warning Light
The Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS) light will illuminate amber to indicate a problem with the system. If the LKAS or ACC and LKAS light stays on constantly, seek assistance from authorised Honda dealer. If light is green, but automatically cancels along with a beep, either the temperature is too high in the camera department (use the climate control system to cool it down) or there is dirt covering the camera (clean the area around the camera). Light may also come on during bad weather.
Collision Mitigating Braking System Warning Light
The Collision Mitigating Braking System (CMBS) detects an impending collision with another vehicle or pedestrian and is designed to lessen the severity of an avoidable impact. Problems may occur where CMBS fails to work, such as: bad weather condition, sudden changes in light, for example driving through a tunnel, little contrast between an object and the background, low light conditions or very strong reflecting light, driving in shadows (trees and buildings), reflections on the interior of the windscreen and roadway objects may be misinterpreted as vehicles or pedestrian. IF the CMBS light comes on and stays on, ensure that the area around the camera is clean, the radar sensor is clean. If the light stays on, the temperature inside the camera may be too high, use the climate control system to cool the camera.
Civic / Accord VSA System Warning Light
These are the dashboard symbols you may see in slightly older versions of the Honda Civic and Accord. The Vehicle Stability Assistant (VSA) light should come on with ignition and go out shortly. If it stays on or does not come one at all, there’s a problem with the VSA system. Your Honda will still have normal driving ability, but you will not have traction and stability enhancement. The triangle with an exclamation mark is the VSA activation indicator. It will come on (stable) indicating you have turned VSA off, flashing ti indicate VSA is active and on with the VSA symbol to indicate a problem.
Honda Civic / Accord DRL Warning Light
Daytime Running Lights, or ‘DRL’ are activated during daylight to enable your vehicle to be better seen. This symbol is generally seen on older models of the Honda Civic and Honda Accord. If the light comes on when the ignition is switched to the ‘on’ position and the parking brake has been released, it indicates a fault with the DRL or the high beam headlights.