New Honda models come with two warning lights for extra safety; the check engine light and the Vehicle Stability Assist(VSA) light, which ensures that the car’s tires have sufficient traction.
Do your check engine light and the VSA light come on at the same time? If yes, you may be struggling to figure out why.
So, what really can cause the check engine and VSA light to stay on when the engine is running?
The short answer is; a problem with your Honda’s traction control system, which may include one or several wheel speed sensors that are badly plugged in, faulty, or being hampered by grime, road debris, and the elements.
Wheel Speed Sensors
Wheel speed sensors work to detect when one drive wheel is spinning faster than the others. They then relay the information to the vehicle’s computer, which in turn interprets it as a sign of slipping or loss of traction.
Consequently, it reduces engine power and applies the brake to the affected wheel and that’s how traction control works basically.
Sensors are prone to damage, which can cause them to be unresponsive, thereby triggering the check engine light and the VSA light to stay on.
Risk factors here include water, dirt, debris, stones, road grime, potholes, snow, tar, and many other things. However, the symptoms of these issues aren’t very specific though as your car may exhibit all the general symptoms it would when there is any other problem with the traction control feature.
Solution: Therefore, rather than check out for more symptoms besides the check engine light and the VSA light, which may in fact be misleading, use your car’s scanning tool to diagnose the traction control system to figure out the risk factor(s) that is(are) causing hampering the sensors, causing the lights to stay on.
Your check engine light and VSA light may also trigger if one or several sensors aren’t properly plugged in or if there are some faulty/disrupted electrical connections between the sensor(s) and the computer. So, how do you know if you have;
- A damaged or faulty sensor(s)?
- A badly plugged-in sensor(s)?
- A faulty electrical connection(s) between one or several sensors and the computer?
Well, each problem will exhibit one or several symptoms. For example, a damaged sensor will cause the ABS light, VSA light, and the check engine light to come on and stay on as you already know.
But apart from that, your anti-lock brakes system may stop working so is traction and stability control. The speedometer may also be erratic. You may also have a pulsating brake pedal.
Solution: The best solution to this problem is to replace your damaged sensor(s). You can use your car’s diagnostic tool to scan and detect faulty wheel speed sensors quickly on your Honda.
If the issue with your car’s traction control is something to do with a badly plugged-in wheel speed sensor(s), another thing to look out for besides the VSA light and the engine light is how your car stops when you step on the brake pedal.
If the car takes longer than usual to stop or if it becomes unstable when braking, you may be looking at a badly plugged-in sensor.
Solution: The best solution for this problem is to use your diagnostic tool to pinpoint and fix the badly plugged-in sensor(s) accordingly.
As for a faulty electrical connection(s) between one or several sensors and the computer, the symptoms may be pretty much the same as those of a badly plugged-in sensor(s).
For instance, the car may take longer than usual to stop. Another symptom is that it may become unstable when braking.
Solution: Here, you may want to use your diagnostic tool to pinpoint and fix the faulty electrical connection(s) between the affected sensor(s) and the computer.
An Overly Sensitive Traction Control System
Your check engine light and VSA light may come on now and again if you have an overly sensitive traction control system. While this safety technology is very beneficial, it can also be a pain in the neck in some circumstances, e.g when leaving or entering a parking space with a little bit of snow, causing the wheel to slip momentarily.
Due to the overly sensitive nature of TCS, the car will immediately sense the momentary loss of traction and instantly lock the wheel(s) even when it(they) just slipped for a microsecond.
Symptoms: You know that you have an overly sensitive traction control when the wheels stop almost instantaneously following a momentary slip or loss of traction.
Solution: If your traction control is overly sensitive, you may need to turn it off especially if you drive your vehicle over road surfaces where traction control isn’t so necessary.
Your car should have a button or switch, somewhere at the front, that displays a picture of a car with wavy lines underneath. Press it to turn off TC.
This should then show the VSA light on the dash as a steady yellow light, indicating that traction control is now disabled.
New models of Honda cars come with an additional safety feature—traction control, which helps prevent your wheels from slipping when driving over snow and other slippery surfaces.
When there’s a problem with your honda’s TC, the VSA light and the check engine light will illuminate your dashboard nonstop or now and then.
Usually, the light stays on when there’s a problem with one or several wheel speed sensors of your car whereby one or several sensors are faulty, badly plugged in, or when there’s an improper electrical connection between the sensor(s) and the vehicle’s computer.
This can be fixed by plugging in correctly or replacing the affected sensor(s), not to mention, correcting the electrical connection between the sensor(s) and the computer.
But if the lights flash at irregular intervals as opposed to nonstop, it may mean that your car’s traction control is overly sensitive as is the case with some modern Honda models.
What you could do in that case to correct the problem is to simply disable the feature as explained above.