The Annoying TPMS Warning Light That Just Won't Quit

Posted on
Scott McCracken
#wheels #technology

TPMS, or tire pressure monitoring systems, are a mildly controversial feature of some modern cars. While it's nice to have quick access to the current PSI readings of your tires from the comfort of your driver's seat, some manufacturers (hello, Honda!) have a history of TPMS problems that turn the system into more of a headache than just getting out of your car and checking the tire pressure yourself.

What is TPMS?

The simple purpose of TPMS is to electronically monitor your tire pressure and warn you when one of your tires falls out of the recommended PSI range. Yes, this is something that should be done by all drivers without the assistance of an electronic system, but ... here we are. TPMS does have some benefits:

Benefits of TPMS:

  • Quick access to information about your tires' PSI
  • Properly inflated tires help with gas mileage, improve vehicle stability, and even out tire wear
  • Great for lazy people (sorry, lazy people -- it's true)

Disadvantages of TPMS:

  • It's not always optional and is added into your vehicle's price ($$$)
  • If you need to replace a wheel, it needs to be replaced with a TIPM-specific wheel ($$$)
  • In most cases it cannot be disabled without voiding the warranty

Honda's TPMS Warning Light is On

There are two types of warnings that come with most tire pressure monitoring systems:

  • A "tire pressure warning indicator", which is a sign that the TPMS is doing its job
  • A "check TPMS" warning indicator, when the system itself fails

Honda owners have been experiencing that 2nd issue -- a lot. Some say it happens as often as every couple hundred miles, while others say the warning light stays on indefinitely until a mechanic is seen. The problem can reportedly be triggered by a number of things, including temperature, driving distance and even small fluctuations in PSI.

"Since then, the TPMS light has illuminated approximately every 700 miles. Currently, car has 3400 miles and the light has illuminated again (the fourth time). On every occasion, all the tire pressures were within 1 lb. psi of normal." -- pylit, Waxhaw, NC

The Fix to Honda's TPMS Problems

Honda owners, rejoice! There is a widely reported solution: tell your Honda-certified mechanic about your problem and ask them to perform the software upgrade outlined in TSB #14-006. We are looking for a copy of this document, but from all accounts it a simple software upgrade that fixes many TPMS problems:

Got the CRV back from the TSB 14-006 software upgrade. Nothing shorted out or blew up thankfully. So far, so good.[1]

  1. From CR-V Owners Club post ↩︎

Generations Where This Problem Has Been Reported

This problem has popped up in the following Honda generations.

Most years within a generation share the same parts and manufacturing process. You can also expect them to share the same problems. So while it may not be a problem in every year yet, it's worth looking out for.

OK, Now What?

Maybe you've experienced this problem. Maybe you're concerned you will soon. Whatever the reason, here's a handful of things you can do to make sure it gets the attention it deserves.

  1. File Your Complaint is a free site dedicated to uncovering problem trends and informing owners about potential issues with their cars. Major class action law firms use this data when researching cases.

    Add a Complaint
  2. Notify CAS

    The Center for Auto Safety (CAS) is a pro-consumer organization that researches auto safety issues & often compels the US government to do the right thing through lobbying & lawsuits.

    Notify The CAS
  3. Report a Safety Concern

    The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is the US agency with the authority to conduct vehicle defect investigations & force recalls. Their focus is on safety-related issues.

    Report to NHTSA