Reader Question: The Light That Won’t Turn Off?

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Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!

Kristin asks: I have a 2016 Honda Accord with a “check tire pressure” light that comes on repeatedly, randomly. I know for sure the tire pressure is okay because I have confirmed it but the light stays on regardless. It is very annoying!

My reply: It is also unsafe!

I say that without the usual mockery – saaaaaaaaaaaaafety! – because it’s actual a legitimate safety issue. These false positives encourage people to ignore the “check  tire pressure” light, rendering its alarm useless – very much the same way that horn honking/lights flashing car theft alarms are largely useless – on the Boy Who Cried Wolf basis. But the tire pressure may in fact be low, and that can be dangerous and is bad for the tires, which will wear faster.

I dislike the lights even when they work – because they encourage people to not manually confirm the actual pressure and instead to rely on a light. Checking air pressure – like checking fluid levels – is something everyone capable of driving is capable of doing and if not, then they have no business driving. I don;t say this to be mean. I say this because it’s true. Anyone too feeble to use an air stick – or check a dipstick – is someone who needs to be driven.

As to why the light comes on even though the pressure has been checked: The sensors go bad, for a variety of reasons ranging from the electronic (they fail) to the stupid (someone filled the tire with goo; aka Fix-a-Flat).

In any case, it may be possible to get the light to go off by following the protocol for turning it off (see your owner’s manual) or by getting the tire pressure exactly right (set it cold) or by having a bad tire pressure sensor replaced (see a tire shop) or by pulling a fuse to kill the light or by placing a piece of black electrical tape over the light – so you don’t have to see it!

. . .

Got a question about cars, Libertarian politics – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!

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  1. The 2013-2017 Accord is different from most other modern cars because it does not have individual tire pressure sensors, but rather the computer looks for differences in wheel revolutions in order to trigger the low tire pressure light. If you’ve verified that your tire pressures are good, then hold down the button that’s to the lower left of the steering wheel and the indicator light should go off. If the light continues to come on after this, the good news is that there are no individual sensors to dicker with, but the bad news is you may have to get the ABS sensor(s) assessed instead.


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