Honda warning lights – what they mean and what do you need to do

Have you got the warning lights on your Jazz jumbled? Intrigued by the instrument panel on your Insight? 

Let us help you decode your dashboard with the help of our handy guide.

The lights on a Honda dashboard follow a traffic light colour system:

  • Green: the system is working correctly or is currently in use
  • Yellow: something is not working correctly - take extra care and check it out as soon as possible
  • Red: there is a serious, and potentially dangerous problem - stop driving as soon as it is safe to do so

But what do all those different symbols mean? We’ve put together this guide to help you understand what the different yellow and red warning lights on your Honda dashboard mean, why they come on, how urgent the problem is and what you should do when you see them.

Engine oil sensor warning light

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This red warning light looks very similar to the engine oil pressure light with one key difference: the exclamation mark to the right will only appear when there’s a problem with the sensor measuring the engine oil level.

You should keep your eyes peeled for this warning light as you might not notice any difference in the performance of your car while it’s illuminated.

If the engine oil pressure light shows without an exclamation mark you should switch off your engine as soon as it’s safe to do so.

Can I still drive with my engine oil sensor warning light still on?

Because this light indicates a problem with the sensor, you could ignore the warning and the engine oil level may be perfectly fine, but this is incredibly risky.

If the sensor fails to measure low engine oil levels, your Honda could become more vulnerable to damage. Without enough lubricant, engine parts move less smoothly and suffer from wear and tear more quickly.

Rather than topping up your oil you should seek the help of a professional right away. An RAC approved garage will be happy to help.

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Glow plug warning light

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Also known as the warming lamp light.

Glow plugs are used to preheat the engine on a diesel car. 

You’ll normally see the amber sign illuminate when turning on the ignition as your car warms up for the drive ahead. 

Once it switches off, you’re good to go.

Can I still drive with my glow plug warning light still on?

Glow plugs are prone to wear and tear, so it’s common for the parts to develop faults over time.

If the amber light stays switched on when driving, you should seek the help of a professional.

Thankfully, replacing a glow plug is a straightforward and relatively cheap job.

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Service reminder warning light

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This is one of the more sophisticated lights on your dashboard. It first appears when your car is due a service in less than 30 days.  

A large number to the right indicates how many days are left until a service is due. 

Smaller characters also feature as ‘maintenance item codes’ – these are prompts for the mechanic to help them see which part of your car needs attention. 

The icon changes according to three different phases:

  • Service due soon – The spanner, arrow and car shapes appear together 30 days before a service is due. The large number to the right counts down on a daily basis.
  • Service due now – When there are ten or less days until a service is due the arrow and car shapes disappear leaving the spanner on its own.
  • Service overdue – If your car isn’t serviced by the due date or the warning light isn’t reset, the number next to the banner will appear beside a minus sign.

Can I still drive with my service warning light still on?

The service reminder doesn’t indicate a fault or problem with your car so you should feel confident about driving with it turned on for a short while.

However, time is of the essence and you should pay close attention to the large number telling you when a service is due. 

Honda advises taking your car to a professional as soon as possible when there are ten or fewer days left until a service. If you stick to this rule you should avoid missing out on maintenance checks that save you money in the long run. 

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Lane departure warning light

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Also known as the road departure mitigation indicator.

The lane departure warning system is your safety net when your Honda strays from its driving lane.

The light illuminates if your vehicle gets too close to lane markings and your indicators aren’t turned on. Some Honda models will even apply steering torque and use vibrations in your steering wheel to alert you about your position in the road.

If you veer over solid continuous lines brakes could be applied as an added safety measure.

Can I still drive with my lane departure warning light still on?

When this light appears, you should quickly and calmly steer your Honda to a safer position, in the middle of the driving lane. 

If the warning light turns on at the wrong time, for example when you’ve used your indicators, you should enlist the help of an RAC approved garage to turn it off.

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Front collision warning light

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Also known as the collision mitigation braking system (CMBS) indicator.

The CMBS reduces the severity of collisions by applying the brakes and alerting you about an unavoidable crash with pedestrians and other vehicles.

When your Honda activates its CMBS your car may also give off a beeping sound.

What should I do when my front collision warning light turns on?

When the front collision warning light appears, you should act quickly to try to minimise the impact of a collision. The CMBS is designed as an aid and drivers are expected to control the vehicle themselves at all times.

The safety system turns on every time you start the engine, however there should be a button to turn it off from the driving seat.

When this happens the warning light will show next to the word: ‘OFF’.

Find out what you should do in the event of an accident with our helpful advice.

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Smart entry warning light

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The Smart Entry system allows Honda drivers to walk up to their vehicle, open the door and start the engine, all without a key. 

You can open the boot and even lock your car using a button on the door handle as long as you have your fob nearby. 

If the technology turns faulty the warning light will appear on the instrument panel.

Can I still drive with my smart entry warning light still on?

In short, yes. The warning light only shows up on your dashboard when there’s a problem with your Smart Entry system. But why would you want to put such useful technology to waste?

When the warning light illuminates, you should get someone to take a look as soon as possible.

An RAC approved garage is the perfect place to start.

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Engine management warning light

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Also known as the MIL or engine management light.

When the engine management light is illuminated it’s often accompanied by tell-tale signs that the engine is not working properly, such as a lack of power or stuttering as you press the accelerator.

This light could indicate a number of faults, from minor issues like a broken electrical sensor to a much larger mechanical issue, like a fault with your emission control system or catalytic converter.

How long can I drive with my check engine light on?

If the check engine light comes on you should get it checked as soon as you can, as by continuing to drive you risk causing further, potentially irreparable damage to your engine. 

Use our search tool to find your nearest RAC approved garage. Or, if you have RAC Breakdown Cover, call for recovery.

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Airbag warning light

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Also known as the airbag and seatbelt system warning light.

When this light goes red it means that at least one element of the airbag safety system is not working correctly: either the airbag system itself; the front passenger occupant classification system (which detects the front passenger’s weight and position in order to safely deploy the airbag); or the seat belt pretensioner system, which tightens the belt in the event of a crash.

Can I still drive with my airbag light on?

If the airbag system is not working properly, it may not go off in a crash - or in some cases it could even deploy unexpectedly and cause a crash. Either way, the airbag system is an incredibly important safety feature of your car so if this light comes on please get it checked out immediately.

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Electronic power steering warning light

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Also known as the EPS or EPAS warning light.

This warning light indicates that there’s a problem with the power steering.

For electric powered systems, this problem could be as simple to fix as rebooting a computer. Find a safe place to stop and try turning the car off and back on again after 30 seconds. If the light stays on you should take your car to get checked as soon as possible.

Can I drive with my EPS light on?

You can but if the power steering system fails you will notice that the car is harder to manoeuvre and you should take extra care – it could be dangerous to drive at high motorway speeds without power steering assistance.

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Diesel particulate filter warning light

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Also known as the DPF or exhaust particulate filter warning light.

If you have a diesel, one of these lights will come on if there is a problem with the exhaust particulate filter, which removes harmful soot from the exhaust gases to reduce emissions. It could indicate that the filter has become blocked with soot.

Can I still drive with my DPF light on?

As well as releasing a plume of toxic black smoke every time you press the accelerator, driving with a blocked filter could cause more serious damage to your car. You should go to a garage to get it checked as soon as you can, as these filters can be expensive to replace. 

Learn more about diesel particulate filters and how to maintain them.

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Engine temperature warning light

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Also known as the coolant temperature warning light.

This light will come on when the engine is overheating. This could mean that coolant levels are running low, perhaps due to a leak in the system, or it could be a sign of a larger problem, like a head gasket failure.

Can I still drive with my engine overheating light on?

If this light is red you should stop straight away, as without enough coolant your engine could get so hot that it effectively welds itself together, causing irreparable damage.

Stop and wait until the engine has cooled off before checking the gauge on the side of the coolant tank under the bonnet, topping up as required. Read our guide to checking your engine coolant.

While you’re under the hood, have a look to see if there are any obvious leaks. If you can’t see any and the light goes off after topping up then you should be fine to continue your journey. If the light comes back on again after topping up you should get it checked out to fix the underlying problem. 

An overheating engine can cut out as well. Rather than risk it, you should call for recovery if you have breakdown cover.

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Oil pressure warning light

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Also known as the low engine oil or low oil pressure light.

The oil warning light comes on when either the oil temperature gets too high or the oil level or pressure is too low. If the oil is not lubricating the engine effectively it could lead to expensive or even irreparable engine damage, so it’s important to act quickly.

Can I still drive with my low engine oil light on?

When this light comes on you should stop as soon as possible and turn off the engine. Have a look for any obvious oil leaks under the car, and then check the oil levels, topping up if necessary.

If the oil levels are fine, then the oil pump may be faulty. In this case call for recovery if you have breakdown cover, as driving any further could damage the engine. Watch our video guide to checking your car’s engine oil.

While you’re under the hood, have a look to see if there are any obvious leaks. If you can’t see any and the light goes off after topping up then you should be fine to continue your journey. If the light comes back on again after topping up you should get it checked out at a garage to fix the underlying problem.

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Tyre pressure monitoring warning light

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Also known as the run flat indicator RPA or low tyre pressure warning light

Many cars are now fitted with tyre pressure monitoring systems that will let you know when the pressure falls. This could happen over time or it could be because of a puncture.

The light often appears with an on-screen message to let you know which tyres you should check.

Can I still drive with my tyre pressure light on?

Yes, but you should drive with extra care and aim to top up with air at the next opportunity. Low tyre pressure can cause unsafe driving conditions so reduce your speed, and try to avoid braking suddenly or making any violent steering manoeuvres.

Most petrol stations and garages will have an air compressor you can use to check your tyre pressure. Top up the air in the tyres according to the vehicle manufacturer specification in your owner's manual. 

If you have a puncture, watch our video to learn how to change a tyre in 10 simple steps.

Battery warning light

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Also known as the battery charge light or battery charging system light.

If this light comes on when you’re driving it indicates that the battery is not charging. This could be due to a problem with your car’s electrical system and it could have several causes, such as a faulty alternator, faulty battery, bad electrical connection or damaged cabling.

Can I still drive with my battery charging system light on?

Your car will run as normal until the battery is dead but once it is drained nothing in your car will work – so get to a garage quickly before you run out of juice!

If you do run out of charge, you can try to jump start it, or call for recovery if you have RAC Breakdown cover

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Anti-lock brake system (ABS) warning light

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ABS is an important safety feature that really comes into play when you need to make an abrupt stop, or in difficult driving conditions like icy roads.

Can I still drive with my ABS light on?

If the ABS light comes on by itself you should still have normal, unassisted braking, so it's safe to continue your journey – but keep your distance, take extra care, and get it checked as soon as possible.

If it comes on with the brake warning light, it could indicate that the brake system is failing and you should stop straight away and call for recovery if you have breakdown cover.

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For roadside assistance, you can call the RAC on 0330 159 1111 even if you’re not a member.

Electronic stability control (ESC) or dynamic stability control DSC warning light

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Also known as Electronic Stability Problem (ESP) light or ASR light.

If it’s flashing it means the ESP system is intervening – for example, if you’re driving on a slippery road. If the light stays on it means the ESP system is not working properly.

The ESP light will light up with the word ‘OFF’ if the system has been deactivated, in which case you may have inadvertently turned it off.

To check, try stopping and restarting the engine. If the light remains on after restarting get it checked at a garage as the ESP system is an important safety feature.

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Brake pad warning light

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Also called the brake pad wear warning light, if this symbol shows up it means a sensor has detected your brake pads are too thin.

Can I drive with my brake pad light on?

This warning light should come on before the brake pads become dangerously thin, so you have time to get them changed. You should replace as soon as you can though, as if they wear out completely it could be extremely dangerous.

For more information read our guide to brake pads

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