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Killing the Maintenance Required Warning Light in a 1999 Honda Accord

My 1999 Accord is fond of throwing a "maintenance required" warning light at me every so often. After being worried the first time, comments from various mechanics have convinced me this is something time/mileage related rather than car health related. It is, nevertheless, rather annoying to drive around with an "idiot light" glaring at me.

Luckily, a friendly Brake Check employee, who claimed the light came on every 15,000 miles so the dealership could charge $50 to turn it off, taught me the method of resetting the indicator light:

  • Start with the car off.
  • Place the key in the ignition in the off position.
  • Press and hold the Select/Reset dial beneath the speedometer.
  • While continuing to hold the dial, start the car.
  • Continue to hold the dial for a few seconds until the light turns off.

I’m not sure how prevalent this information is, but there are at least some mechanics/technicians who are unable to figure it out. I once asked an NTB technician to reset this same light after fixing my flat. After waiting 15 minutes, I went out to the shop to investigate and the technician, car manual in hand, informed me he had "just figured it out." His method was to start the car, pump the gas a few times and then wait a few minutes. The only issue, of course, was the light always turns off a few minutes after turning the car on. Nice try, NTB guy.

I’m not sure of the process in other vehicles, so if you are aware of a maintenance light resetting procedure for another manufacturer/model, please list it in the comments. Other nifty car user tricks are welcome as well.

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0 Votes  - +
Wait it out.. by gnifyus

Aren’t those the same steps to reset a locked-up Ipod?

The only method I know of is to drive your vehicle far enough so the light actually burns out. I just took a 1988 Chevy pick-up off the road after ~200,000 miles. It’s amazing how much extra electronic stuff (except the EFI) could just simply be disconnected and not have any effect on whether the vehicle ran or not. It always passed MA emissions with flying colors too.
Or, just look at the stuff you can buy!

Some time ago the maintenance light on my 1999 Toyota Corolla came on. I took it to the dealer who determined that I needed a new gas cap. If I remember correctly, the EFI fuel system was not correctly pressurized due to an after market gas cap I was using. The new gas cap cost me about $20 plus about $150 to reset the light.

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Chrysler Fault Codes by VnutZ

Most Jeep owners are familiar with this trick … but it works for most Chrysler vehicles. From the website http://www.allpar.com/fix/codes.html:

Normally, to get codes, you put the key on OFF and then rapidly do OFF-ON-OFF-ON-OFF-ON (on some cars you have to do four or five, not three, OFF-ON cycles). On our test 2002 car, the key did not go back to unlock, so it was ACC-ON-ACC-ON-ACC-ON.

To clear the codes, you still generally need a scan reader to send an acknowledgment command to the ECU. Resetting an ECU is typically a matter of disconnecting the vehicle’s battery and then grounding the positive terminal (to discharge the ECU). If the problem is systemic – it will come back, unless cleared by OBD acknowledgment.

I tried this process on my 1998 Honda Accord and it worked also. I had also called the dealership about this and the instructions they gave me were incorrect.

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Not working for me by Anonymous

This "trick" works on my 2002 Civic but I can’t get it to work on my 2003 Odyssey. Not sure whether it stays on becasue of some other problem or whether the trick doesn’t work on this particular model. Although everything I’ve heard/read about this annoying light leads me to beleive it is stricktly a timing/mileage light as you suggest. If you had a REAL probelm the check engine light would come on not the maintenance required light.

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It worked by Anonymous

Awesome! Thanks for the tip. I have a 2004 Honda Odyssey and suspected it wasnt any real problem but just a way for you to have to take the car to the dealership. Thanks again

The Maintenance Required light is associated with the preventative maintenance such as oil changes. It should be reset by the facility performing the oil change. The steps for the Honda Accord may also be different for other vehicles. The steps are also identified in your vehicle operating manual supplied with the vehicle.

On the other hand, the Check Engine light is associated with the vehicle’s health, and should be checked by reading the engine code(s) that caused the light to come on. Most of the time it is associated with the emissions system and can be anything from a loose gas cap to more severe problems with the engine operability such as miss fire or sensor problems. Some places will check the codes for free, others charge around $20 to read only or $80 to $100 to read and determine what needs to be repaired or replaced. Other sources of the code can be from transmission problem.

Most auto parts stores sell the simple OBDII reader that can tell you the codes, and then you can do a google search for the code to see possible problem resolution. They also sell a more expensive reader that will also diagnose the problem.

I just went out to try this on my 98 Honda Accord Coupe and it worked like a charm !!!

I was just about to take it into the dealership to have the light checked out when I decided to do a quick search online instead.
That light was driving me crazy!!
I was worried something might be wrong with my car and didnt even feel comfortable driving it.

Thanks for the info Brandon, youre a headache and money saver bud.

Nice try Honda but youre not getting my money this time !!! Lol
Still love Honda, but can do without the Retard Light.

2 Votes  - +
Maintenance Light by VnutZ

All right … it’s great that you can turn the indicator off. But what’s bugging me is the common perception as to what that light means. That light doesn’t come on to let you know that your engine is malfunctioning. It really has nothing to do with that at all. (Although as a side effect of it’s purpose, it can inform you of problems). Rather, the MIL (malfunction indicator light) is designed to alert you of problems with the OBD II system (on board diagnostics) which exist only to monitor emissions! That light comes on when there is a leak in fuel pressure (gas vapor escaping from the gas cap or tank), if the cylinders are misfiring (wasted fuel or incorrect burn) if the exhaust has a leak (catalytic converter not being used), catalytic converter failures (O2 sensors detecting proper scrubbing not taking place) or the O2 sensors fail (not heating up and not detecting O2). There are a variety of other things detected as faults – but the MIL light lets you know when something to do with your emissions has triggered "an event." Many of those events are completely innocuous. Some of them aren’t. But the light comes on when a fault occurs.

BTW – when your vehicle is inspected (depending on your state), most of the emissions tests for modern vehicles are performed by plugging their equipment into the diagnostic OBD II port – NOT measuring actual emissions. That equipment can tell whether the problem was fixed or the code was simply cleared. If the light comes back repeatedly, they can also tell that you were just clearing it and not servicing the fault.

So … that said, just because you can clear the light, doesn’t mean you should. It came on for a reason. I plugged my laptop into a co-workers car and read multiple faults from his engine including bad O2 sensors and engine knock. Stuff like that will keep coming back and he now knows exactly what to ask his mechanic to fix.

Besides, if you’re into the "green chic", clearing your emissions fault indicator without reading the fault code is like a Catholic spitting in the Holy Water.

0 Votes  - +
Idiot light by Anonymous
I tried to reset the maintenance idiot light on my 2005 Honda civic 11000 miles the process did not work idiot light still on. re tighten gas cap still on. GEORGE

It’s really not much of a mystery. It’s in the owners manual.

thanks bud..good trick..i just tried yestreday..it worked

I just performed the steps less than 2 minutes ago and it worked; I have a 1998 Honda Odyssey nearing 211,000 miles. Brilliant!

My 1998 Honda Odyssey has over 210,000 miles and I changed the oil and filter myself a few weeks ago, but didn’t check to see how to turn off the blinking maintenance requ’d light. After reading this and doing the steps, the light is gone but I will still take my car to my mechanic to perform a check just in case. I did have my O2 sensors changed in January. Glad it was not the transmission.

Resetting Maintenance Required/srs/airbag/brake and oil lights

The following website will provide you with FREE video instructions on
resetting your maintenance required light as well as srs/airbag/brake
and oil lights. I always use this site because the instructions are easy
and to the point. The site also has great info on where to purchase
used oe new parts with discounted prices as well as much more.

Check out www.vehix411.com

I used this same procedure on my 2003 Honda Civic Hybrid and it successfully killed / reset / whatever my maintenance required light.

It’s starting to look like this is a Honda-wide trick…

0 Votes  - +
Totally Worked by Anonymous

This worked like a charm on my 2004 Honda Odyssey.

Thanks a bunch!!!! for the info …. It worked

brandon i just tryied it on my 98 accord worked like a charm

The dealer told me to bring it in for diagnostics. I followed the recommendation to purchase a new gas cap, and to reset the code by disconnecting and grounding the battery. Worked perfectly. Thanks for the tips. Saved a bundle.

99 odyssey took 30 sec tops.

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Easy Peasy by Anonymous

For some reason the guy who usually does my service (and turns off my light) didn’t this time, so I’m glad you posted this trick! Worked like a charm for my ‘99 Accord. It still flashes when I start it up, but that’s far preferable to the glaring, useless idiot light! Thanks!!

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