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The Maintenance Required / Service Required light
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Why is the light there?
How does it work?
How do I turn it off?
Why is the light there?   back to top of this page

That light is there for exhaust emissions reasons, believe it or not.

For the three gases that are usually part of the test, emissions these days are vanishingly tiny, about 1% of that of a 1967 model-year car. Federally-mandated limits are correspondingly small, so it does not take much for those numbers to rise to the point where somebody may end up failing an emissions test, or the Malfunction Indicator Lamp ("Check Engine Light") will illuminate, which in an emissions-test jurisdiction, is the same thing as a failure.

Neglected cars, especially those whose owners have been slothful about oil changes, produce more emissions than properly maintained cars, and are more likely to fail emissions tests. Automakers are forced by Federal law to warrant the emissions devices on your car and proper performance of same for up to eight years from new. In fact, for a few slect California models, the catalytic converter is warranted for a whopping 14 years. Somebody's gotta pay for that... Because of the Federal emissions warranty, such vehicles have the potential to cost Honda and its franchised dealers lots of money and big headaches, hence the nag light you see on your dashboard.

So I hope you've actually performed the required maintenance yourself according to the Owner's Manual, and are not simply thinking that the Maintenance light is just a ploy to help the dealer relieve you of your money (as enticing as that idea may be...).

How does it work?   back to top of this page

From Kevin Sargent:
"If the light is on, it is simply a mileage trigger. There is nothing wrong with your car. Also, these triggers I quoted are on my Canadian Integra (hence the KM indication straight from the book), and it also may have changed from the 1996 model year to 1998, but I doubt it.

How do I turn it off?   back to top of this page

Note: Make certain all the exterior lamps (headlights, parking, etc) are OFF before you try to turn off the Maintenance Required lamp. If any exterior lamps are ON, the computer will not allow the Maintenance lamp to be turned off!
If you have Daytime Running Lamps (DRL's)... If the DRL's are factory, pull the parking brake lever up before turning the ignition key to II. If the DRL's are aftermarket, read the manual that came with them for how to turn them off, or pull their fuse.

There appear to be several methods that extinguish the light. These methods are listed in your Owner's Manual. If you don't have an Owner's Manual, you can download the relevant pages (for free) from Honda's own Techinfo site:

If your manual's not listed there, or for whatever reason you are unable to retrieve the necessary information from that site, try the suggestions below:

Steering column square button
Also from Kevin Sargent: "I assume Honda didn't change the location of the button from '96 to '98, so there should be a small square button, below the steering column and a little to the right, facing away from you (i.e. toward the engine). Hold the button and start the engine, it will reset the light."
This button is visible if you peek under the steering column. It is recessed into the plastic trim that covers the metal mechanical bits. The 1994 Civic also has this button.

Odometer reset button procedure
  1. Turn the key to the II position (but not to III, or START)
  2. Turn the key to the 0 (OFF) position, then push -- and hold -- the odometer reset button
  3. Turn the key back to the II position, while still holding the button
  4. After about 10-15 seconds, the light should go off
  5. Release button and turn key to 0.

Another odometer reset procedure gleaned from www.acuraworld.com
  1. Keys out of the ignition
  2. Push and hold down the odometer Select and Reset buttons
  3. While holding them down, put your keys in and turn the key to II but not to III (START)
  4. The light blinks once. Wait about another 5-15 seconds and the light will then turn off
  5. Release the two buttons
  6. Turn ignition back to 0 (OFF)
  7. Start car as normal.
The Maintenance Required Light will now be off and stay off for 25,000 miles. This supposedly works for most late-model Honda/Acura vehicles.

Hold down odometer reset button while starting the engine
Miles Abernathy writes: "On my 2001 American Honda Accord, I found that starting the engine while pressing the odometer reset button caused the Maint Req'd light to go out the next time I started the engine."

Slot at bottom of speedometer
Stick ignition key in and hold until it turns off.