Honda Check Engine Light Troubleshooting Guide

Is your Honda check engine light on?

Hondas are very reliable, but even they have their fair share of engine problems.

In this article, we take a look at most common causes of Honda check engine light.  Next, we will show you how you can diagnose Honda check engine light codes yourself using an OBD2 Scanner. Honda check engine light may also be referred to as service engine soon light or malfunction indicator light.

Symptoms

Honda check engine light on

In addition to the check engine light (CEL) coming on you may also notice the following. 

  • Engine Shaking
  • Rough Idle
  • Emission System Problem message on the dashboard
  • Honda check¬†engine light flashing
  • Engine idles too high
  • Poor acceleration
  • Difficulty going uphill
  • Car won't start¬†
  • Honda dies when placed in gear

In some cases, Honda check engine light may come on but no other symptoms are present. This would be the case of a loose gas cap.

What does Honda Check Engine Light mean

If your Honda check engine light stays on even after you start the engine, it means the On Board Diagnostic (OBD) system has detected a problem with the engine, transmission or the emission system. 

A steady light on means the problem is not very serious. Continue driving with caution if you don't notice any performance issue, the car doesn't overheat, oil light is not on. 
Flashing or blinking Honda check engine light means there is a serious engine misfire. Typically the car will shake and you will notice poor throttle response. You should not drive your Honda if the check engine light is flashing. Driving a car with a misfire will damage your catalytic converter and cause the engine to overheat. 

Common Causes

Let's take a look at some common problem that triggers Honda check engine light to stay on. 

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Loose gas cap

A loose or missing gas cap will trigger your Honda check engine light to come on. If you don't notice any performance issues and check engine light is not flashing, tighten the gas cap and continue driving.

If that's all that there is, your Honda check engine light will reset on its own within a couple of days. 

honda check engine light caused by a bad oxygen sensor

Oxygen sensor

O2 sensor performing below efficiency is a widespread problem that will cause your Honda check engine light to come on. 

honda accord check engine light on due to bad catalytic converter

Catalytic Converter 

Catalytic converters, if they are partially clogged, will trigger the check engine light to come on in your Honda.

You will notice that in addition to the check engine light the car will shake, engine run rough. Also, these symptoms will be worst when accelerating or trying to go uphill. 

bad spark plugs common cause of honda check engine light

Spark Plugs

Honda cars last a long time, but spark plugs don't. Many Honda owners don't realize that spark plugs need to be changed between 60,000 and 100,000-mile mark.

If spark plugs are not changed at the recommended interval, they will eventually start to wear or even worse, stop working. Once they fail, they will throw misfire fault codes such as P0300 and cause your engine to shake. 

Transmission Problems

Even though Hondas are quite reliable, a few models such as the Honda Odyssey or Honda Accord were prone to having transmission problems.

Once the transmission starts to fail or slip, you could end up with a check engine light on and a fault code in the P0700-P0799 range indicating a transmission problem. 

Fuel Pump

Honda cars are also known to have issues with the fuel pump. Fuel pump problems don't always trigger the check engine light.

You are more likely to experience no start condition or intermittent starting problems. A bad fuel pump can be tricky to diagnose in the early stages because the car may seem to run ok.

A fuel pump that is starting to fail at first throws a multiple cylinder misfire code P0300 before it completely stops working and prevents the car from starting.

How to diagnose Honda Check Engine Light 

If your Honda check engine light is on, the first thing that you, your mechanic or dealer should do is scan the engine codes using an OBD-II scanner.

The code will give you a good idea and a starting point on what could be the problem. 

  1. Locate the OBD-II port under the dashboard, driver's side. DIAGNOSE HONDA CHECK ENGINE LIGHT

     

  2. Connect your OBD-II scanner. connect obd2 scanner to honda to diagnose service engine soon light 
  3. Turn on the ignition. TURN ON IGNTION TO DIAGNOSE HONDA CHECK ENGINE LIGHT

     

  4. Allow your scanner to turn on and communicate with the Engine Control Unit (ECU). Select Read Codes from the main menu. Next select Current Codes. Your first code will show up such as P0300 - Cylinder Misfire. Scroll up and down to see all stored codes. 

Write down the code and search the fault code online to learn about the most likely causes of that particular code.  

If you don't have an OBD2 scanner, you can take your car to the Honda dealer, mechanic. 

 Auto parts stores such as Advance Auto Parts and Autozone will scan the codes for you free of charge. 

Check engine light flashing

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In almost any modern car, flashing 'check engine' light indicates a misfire. Especially if you are experiencing symptoms such as rough idle, engine juddering or poor acceleration.

An engine misfire can be caused by fouled spark plugs, damaged ignition leads or faulty ignition coils.

Also, leaking valve cover seal can flood the spark plug holes with oil. This damages the ignition leads and causes a misfire, so make sure that your plug holes are oil-free.

It is not recommended to drive your Honda if the check engine light is flashing. 

Common Fault Codes

As you read your Honda check engine light with an OBD-II scanner, you will get a fault code that starts with P____. Let's take a look at some of the most common Honda engine codes.

P0456 (Evaporative Emissions System - Small leak detected)

Besides the apparent loose fuel tank cap, this code can be caused by cracks in EVAP hoses or vapor canister. Purge valves or canister vent valve can be faulty, also.

Best way to find a fault is to test the whole system with a smoke generator machine. Connect the smoke machine to the EVAP hose on the intake manifold and visually check where the smoke comes out.

P0420 (Catalyst System Efficiency Below Threshold)

If you have this code in your Honda, it means that readings from your downstream O2 sensor show that amount of oxygen in the exhaust is incorrect. This can be caused by a faulty catalytic converter. However, it is also possible that you have false readings caused by a bad O2 sensor or damaged sensor wiring.

Also, exhaust leaks or incorrect ignition timing can cause this code. It is wise to rule out all these possibilities before changing the catalytic converter, as they are very expensive.

P0141 (Heated oxygen sensor 2, bank 1 heater control circuit malfunction)

Downstream O2 sensor in your Honda have an integrated heating element to help it reach operating temperatures as soon as possible. It can go bad from usage over the years, or it can be damaged by contaminants, such as water.

Before changing the sensor, check the fuse in the engine bay. Also, visually inspect connector and wiring for damage.

P0740  (Transmission Lock-Up Control System Fault)

Your Honda is equipped with a device that locks-up a torque converter. This reduces transmission losses and increases fuel economy. Code P0740 indicates that this system is not working properly. This can be caused by something simple as low transmission fluid level or dirty transmission fluid.

However, it is very common for a torque converter clutch solenoid valve to fail. Another possibility is a damaged valve harness. On some Honda vehicles, the P0740 code may be set by an overheating torque converter problem which is caused by an insufficient flow to the torque converter release circuit.

P0401 ( Exhaust Gas Recirculation Insufficient Flow)

Honda, as many other cars, have an exhaust gas recirculation system. This has a purpose to reduce emissions. Insufficient flow through this system can be caused by blocked or cracked EGR tube or a faulty EGR valve. 

Another possibility is a vacuum related issue, as the EGR valve is vacuum operated. Check the vacuum hoses for damage. Lastly, the EGR differential pressure sensor can fail. To verify this, test the sensor voltage. You should get readings between 0.8 and 1.0 volts.

P1457 ( Evaporative Emissions Control System Leakage EVAP Canister System)

This code is quite similar to previously mentioned P0456. This means that the possible causes are similar as well, ranging from fuel cap issues to EVAP system cracks and leaks. 

However, one thing stands out.  EVAP purge control solenoid and two-way bypass valve are the most common causes for this code. In addition, the fuel tank pressure sensor can fail.

Honda P0137  (Oxygen Sensor Circuit Low Voltage B1S2)

If you are getting this code on your Honda Accord, CRV, Civic, Odyssey, there is a high chance the oxygen sensor has failed. It is best to test the O2 sensor resistance to confirm the oxygen sensor is the culprit. 

Some Honda owners go ahead and replace the sensor without testing it considering that these sensors go bad quite often. Other possible causes that can trigger P0137 include damaged wire harness to the O2 sensor, engine misfire, fuel pressure too low. 

Fault Code List

Honda OBD1 Fault Codes

Code 0 and 11 Electronic Control Module (ECM)
Code1 Heated oxygen sensor A
Code 2 Oxygen content B
Code 3 and 5 Manifold Absolute Pressure
Code 4 Crank position sensor
Code 6 Engine coolant temperature
Code 7 Throttle position sensor
Code 8 Top dead center sensor
Code 9 No.1 cylinder position sensor
Code 10 Intake air temperature sensor
Code 12 Exhaust recirculation system
Code 13 Barometric pressure sensor
Code 14 Idle air control valve or bad ECM
Code 15 Ignition output signal
Code 16 Fuel Injector
Code 17 Vehicle speed sensor
Code 19 A/T lock-up control solenoid
Code 20 Electric load detector
Code 21 V-TEC control solenoid
Code 22 V-TEC pressure solenoid
Code 23 Knock sensor
Code 30 A/T FI signal A
Code 30 A/T FI signal B
Code 41 Heated oxygen sensor heater
Code 43 Fuel supply system
Code 45 Fuel supply metering
Code 48 Heated oxygen sensor
Code 61 Front heated oxygen sensor
Code 63 Rear heated oxygen sensor
Code 65 Rear heated oxygen sensor heater
Code 67 Catalytic converter system
Code 70 Automatic transaxle
Code 71 Misfire detected cylinder 1
Code 72 Misfire detected cylinder 2
Code 73 Misfire detected cylinder 3
Code 74 Misfire detected cylinder 4
Code 75 Misfire detected cylinder 5
Code 76 Misfire detected cylinder 6
Code 80 Exhaust recirculation system
Code 86 Coolant temperature

Honda OBD2 Fault Codes
P1106 BARO Circuit Range/Performance Malfunction
P1107 BARO Circuit Low Input
P1108 BARO Circuit High Input
P1121 Throttle Position Lower Than Expected
P1122 Throttle Position Higher Than Expected
P1128 MAP Lower Than Expected
P1129 MAP Higher Than Expected
P1162 HO2S11 Circuit Fault (Bank 1 Sensor 1)
P1163 HO2S11 Slow Response (Bank 1 Sensor 1)
P1164 HO2S11 Circuit Fault (Bank 1 Sensor 1)
P1165 HO2S11 Slow Response(Bank 1 Sensor 1)
P1166 HO2S11 Heater Circuit Fault (Bank 1 Sensor 1)
P1167 HO2S11 Heater Circuit (VS+) Fault (Bank 1 Sensor 1)
P1168 HO2S11 Label Circuit Low Voltage Fault (Bank 1 Sensor 1)
P1169 HO2S11 Label Circuit High Voltage Fault (Bank 1 Sensor 1)
P1201 Cylinder 1 Misfire 
P1202 Cylinder 2 Misfire 
P1203 Cylinder 3 Misfire
P1204 Cylinder 4 Misfire
P1205 Cylinder 5 Misfire
P1206 Cylinder 6 Misfire
P1241 Throttle Vent Control Motor Circuit 1 Malfunction
P1242 Throttle Vent Control Motor Circuit 2 Malfunction
P1243 Throttle Position Insufficient
P1244 Closed Throttle Position Insufficient
P1246 Accelerator Position Sensor 1 Circuit Malfunction
P1247 Accelerator Position Sensor 2 Circuit Malfunction
P1248 Accelerator Position Sensors 1 & 2 Improper Correlation
P1253 VTEC System Circuit Fault
P1259 VTEC System Malfunction, Rear Bank (Bank 1)
P1279 VTEC System Malfunction, Front Bank (Bank 2)
P1297 ELD Circuit Low Input
P1298 Electrical Load Detector Circuit High Voltage
P1300 Random Misfire
P1301 Cylinder 1 Misfire 
P1302 Cylinder 2 Misfire 
P1303 Cylinder 3 Misfire
P1304 Cylinder 4 Misfire 
P1305 Cylinder 5 Misfire
P1306 Cylinder 6 Misfire 
P1316 Spark Plug Voltage Detection Circuit Malfunction, Front Bank
P1317 Spark Plug Voltage Detection Circuit Malfunction, Rear Bank
P1318 Spark Plug Voltage Detection Module Reset Circuit Malfunction, Front Bank
P1319 Spark Plug Voltage Detection Module Reset Circuit Malfunction, Rear Bank
P1324 Knock Sensor Power Source Circuit Low Voltage
P1336 CKP Sensor B Range/Performance
P1337 CKP Sensor B Low Input
P1359 CKP/TDC Sensor Circuit Connector Disconnection
P1361 TDC Sensor Intermittent Interruption
P1362 TDC 1 Sensor No Signal
P1366 TDC 2 Sensor Intermittent
P1367 TDC 2 Sensor No Signal
P1381 CYP Sensor A Intermittent Interruption
P1382 CYP Sensor A No Signal
P1386 CYP Sensor B Intermittent Interruption
P1387 CYP Sensor B No Signal
P1456 Evaporative Emission Control System Leak Detected (Fuel Tank System)
P1457 Evaporative Emission Control System Leak Detected (Control Canister System)
P1459 EVAP Purge Flow Switch Malfunction
P1491 EGR Valve Lift Insufficient Detected
P1498 EGR Valve Lift Sensor High Voltage
P1508 IAC Valve Circuit Failure
P1519 IAC Valve Circuit Failure
P1607 ECM Internal Circuit Failure A
P1608 ECM Internal Circuit Failure B
P1655 TMA or TMB Signal Line Fault
P1656 Automatic Transmission System Malfunction
P1660 A/T FI Data Line Failure
P1671 A/T FI Data Line No Signal
P1672 A/T FI Data Line Failure
P1676 Traction Control System FI Data Line No Signal
P1677 Traction Control System FI Data Line Failure
P1678 FPTDR Signal Line Failure
P1681 A/T FI Signal A Low Input
P1682 A/T FI Signal A High Input
P1686 A/T FI Signal B Low Input
P1687 A/T FI Signal B High Input
P1690 Traction Control System STB Line Failure
P1696 Traction Control Fuel Cut Signal Low Input
P1697 Traction Control Fuel Cut Signal High Input
P1705 TCM A/T Gear Position Switch Circuit Shorted
P1706 TCM A/T Gear Position Switch Circuit Open
P1753 TCM A/T ECT Sensor Circuit Fault 
P1753 TCM A/T Lockup Solenoid Valve "A" Fault
P1758 TCM A/T Lockup Solenoid Valve "B" Fault
P1790 TCM A/T TP Sensor Circuit Fault
P1791 TCM A/T Vehicle Speed Sensor Circuit Fault

FAQ

Are maintenance light and check engine light the same thing? 

No. Check engine light and maintenance light are not the same thing. Some Hondas such as Honda Accord, Honda Civic, Honda CRV have a maintenance light in addition to the check engine light. 

Why are my Honda pilot check engine and vtm-4 light on?

Your Honda is designed to disable a Variable Torque Management 4WD System ¬†(VTM-4) in case there is a problem with engine operation. When you have a ‚Äėcheck engine‚Äô and vtm-4 light on, this will usually indicate a problem with an engine.¬†¬†You need to resolve the engine faults, and the VTM-4 system will usually restart after this.¬†

What do Honda odyssey check engine and TCS light mean?

TCS in your Honda stands for Traction Control System. If the TCS light is on, it means that the system is not working. Have in mind that if this light came on accompanied with a 'check engine' light, you probably have either engine or transmission fault. Scan for codes with a scan tool. If you have a engine or transmission problem, take care of that first. This could easily be a cause for a TCS light.  

What do honda odyssey check engine and vsa?

VSA is short for Vehicle Stability Assist, and it helps to keep your Honda in the lane. Illuminated VSA light indicates that your VSA is inoperable. This can be caused by a variety of faults. If the VSA light came on together with a 'check engine' light, the root of the problem might be in the engine it self . VSA system is designed to shut off when there is an engine related problem

What do Honda check engine light and flashing D mean?

A flashing D usually indicates a problem related to automatic transmission. Depending on the symptoms, it could be caused by various faults. Something simple as low transmission fluid will not cause driveability issues. Faulty transmission sensor or solenoid, on the other hand, can make gear shifts hard. In most cases, it will trigger a 'check engine' light. You will need to read the codes to get a better insight.What can cause honda accord check engine light flashing and rough idle.

Honda check engine light is on but no codes found?

When a ‚Äėcheck engine‚Äô light illuminates, the code will always be stored in vehicle DTC memory. Some generic OBD2 readers are not able to read manufacturer specific codes. This means you will only see mandatory powertrain codes (Pxxxx codes). If you can‚Äôt read code , you need a different scan tool. If the problem remains the OBD-2 port wires are damaged or you have an ECU problem.¬†

 

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