Find out why the Drive light is blinking on Honda Pilot

While the Honda Pilot is a nice car with decent performance and durability, this automatic transmission car can sometimes be very notorious for the blinking Drive Light problem.

If you are reading this, chances are that you are seeking answers to the following question;

Why is the drive light blinking on my Honda Pilot?

The answer to this problem can be due to many reasons that include a failing clutch pressure sensor, and a bad shift solenoid. Transmission clutch pressure switch challenges and low transmission fluid levels are also big culprits for this problem. Below is an in-depth explanation of each;

Causes Of a Blinking Drive Light on Honda Pilot

1. A Stuck Transmission Clutch Pressure Oil Switch

The transmission clutch pressure switch is one of the most crucial components of your Honda Pilot’s automatic transmission system.

The work of the switch is to read the amount of pressure that comes from the transmission system and then send a signal to the computer.

In turn, the computer calculates whether or not the clutch should be engaged to shift. Now, a blinking D light is one of the common symptoms of a problem with your transmission clutch pressure switch, whereby the switch sticks on when it should be off or it’s simply faulty.


There are two things you can do here to correct the problem; unstick the switch or replace the switch altogether. Generally, it costs between $170 and $300 to change the switch, depending on the type of car, the cost of parts, as well as that of labor.

2. A Bad Shift Solenoid(Shift Actuator)

A shift solenoid is an electronically activated computer-controlled component of an automatic transmission system whose role is to open/close certain valves, regulating the flow of the transmission fluid in your car.

It’s this fluid regulation that causes the transmission system to shift gears. Your Honda Pilot comes with several shift actuators just like other automatic transmission cars.

A few things can cause your shift solenoid to fail, including natural wear and tear, dirty transmission fluid, bad solenoid wiring, as well as slipping transmission.

Now, if one or more of your solenoids fail, you’ll notice a few indicators with one of the most common indicators being a flashing D light.

You can be more sure that you have a bad solenoid(s) if you notice this and other symptoms as well e.g the shifts becoming slower and the time delay increasing, all of a sudden. Other symptoms may include your car;

  • Becoming stuck on a certain gear.
  • Becoming unable to shift.
  • Skipping out on a certain gear and shifting directly to the subsequent gear.
  • Shifting at the wrong RPM.


What you can do if you have a bad shift solenoid is to simply replace the solenoid. It’s located in the valve body assembly within the transmission.

You can do so without necessarily taking out the transmission even though it’s a complex process that needs extra care and attention to detail.

Now, a shift solenoid for the Honda Pilot goes for around $52 and the cost of labor is around $150 per solenoid you may want to replace.

3. Low Transmission Fluid

Low transmission fluid can be another common cause of your Honda Pilot’s flashing Drive Light. How do you know if that’s what’s causing the problem in your car?

Well, it’s simple, check below your car to see if there are any leaks from the pan. If not, take a look at your engine’s temperature gauge, is it higher than normal?

Finally, take note of the car’s shifting behavior; is it noisier, jerkier, or more challenging. All these are signs of low transmission fluid.


The solution here is to top up your transmission fluid levels. The fluid alone will cost you between $54 and $68, depending on the brand. Labor, on the other, will set you back by at least $100.

4. Failing Clutch Pressure Sensor

Last but not least, your Honda Pilot may flash the D light if you have a bad clutch pressure sensor. The sensor acts as a safety device by preventing the engine from starting while the vehicle is in gear.

Besides a blinking Drive Light, a faulty sensor will show symptoms very similar to the symptoms of a bad shift actuator discussed above.


If you have a bad clutch pressure sensor, it’s more practical and cost-effective to replace it than to attempt to fix it. Don’t forget that some vehicle components are simply too complex to repair and the clutch pressure sensor is one of them.

You’ll likely spend between $68 and $75 for parts and $100 utmost for labor.

Final Thoughts

The Honda Pilot is a great SUV with a powerful engine that delivers exceptional performance. However, just like other automatic transmission cars, this car can have a blinking Drive Light nuisance.

The good news is that you can or at least have a mechanic fix this problem when you know what’s causing it. Speaking of which there are a few known mechanical and electronic causes.

These include a stuck transmission clutch pressure oil switch, a bad shift solenoid(shift actuator), low transmission fluid, and a failing clutch pressure sensor

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