Shop Talk, Landmark Honda

Service tips and info from the techs at Landmark Honda

Skip to content: Air Bag Inflators | TPMS System | Maintaining Your Honda

Air Bag Inflators 

The air bag inflator recall campaign:
14-045 / 14-060 / 14-070

We receive many questions or concerns about the current air bag inflator campaign. We have added several pictures to help provide a better understand of what is actually completed. We do know it can be confusing with the media attention.  Specific questions or concerns, we are advised by American Honda to direct customers to the N.S.T.A website or the American Honda customer assistance number 800-999-1009.

If you have a concern about a vehicle that potentially could be part of the campaign; a vin status report is the first action to be taken. Contact a team member in the service department. We will need your vehicle identification number. We will process and advise if the vehicle is part of the campaign. If it requires replacement, we will request your contact information and order the part. American Honda requires that we order the part with all your contact information as well as the vin# when ordering. Once the part arrives we have a very limited amount of time to install the part. We will be required to return the part if not installed within the allotted amount of time.

Below are actual pictures from within our shop. We have a driver’s air bag and passenger’s air bag. Keep in mind the air bag as a unit is not replaced, just the inflator.

Driver's Air Bag and Passenger's Air Bag Photos:

Front Air Bag
Front view of the driver's air bag
Front Air Bag
Rear view of the driver's air bag. You can see the inflator in the assembly.
The old and the new inflators in the driver's air bag. Looks almost identical. Little to no wear. Dont judge this recall by what you see visually.
Passenger Air Bag
Passenger air bag
Passenger Air Bag
Passenger air bag
Passenger Air Bag
Passenger air bag
Inflator Unit
Inflator in the unit (passenger air bag)
Inflator Unit
A comparison of new and old inflator in the passenger air bag. Again no wear or signs of failing. Although no signs of weakness or fatigue is found, it's important to have the recall completed as soon as possible.

Some helpful information, the replacement inflator will NOT repair a SRS lamp malfunction or diagnosis the system in the event the system is not working.

We want to draw your attention to the comparison pictures. You really cannot see wear or unusual aspects of a new or the original inflator. Please don’t not judge the appearance or make the deciding factor on how urgent this recall is. Call and schedule. When servicing allow a 2 hour window. This campaign can be completed on Monday thru Friday. You will need to contact us in advance. As mentioned above your information will be needed prior to ordering.

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TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring System) 

TPMS Indicator Light ComparisonWe often receive questions about the Tire Pressure Monitoring System (or TPMS lamp). To begin, it’s not out of the ordinary to see this lamp come on somewhat regularly. Basically, the system sends an indicator to the control unit and illuminates the lamp when a tire gets near 18% low on air. For reference--on a vehicle that requires 32 psi, this is in the range of 28psi. Below we have listed several conditions that bring customers in with requests to have their TPMS systems checked.

These conditions are as follows:

1) All 4 tires need air. Tires naturally have air loss due to temperatures, as well as air loss from time--experts say 1.5 psi of pressure to every 10 degrees in temperatures lost, with as much as 1.5 psi per month just due to time. With these 2 scenarios alone, drivers potentially need to add air every 3 to 4 months to ensure that the system is functioning normally.

2) If you are an owner and solely rely on your service department to adjust the air in your tires, you will almost always have a TPMS lamp come on a month or so before your next service. Service intervals have been extended so far by the auto manufactures that its very uncommon to go from one scheduled service visit to the next without a TPMS lamp come in in between.

3) If you have a TPMS lamp illuminate, and find 1 tire significantly lower than the others, this is an indicator that that tire may have a leak (from something such as a nail). If you adjust the air and the lamp immediately comes back on, contact the service department--there is likely a puncher or nail.

4) Another occasion that the lamp may come on is when the sensor seal leaks. On some models, the seals are sold separately, but others require replacing the sensor. If any type of corrosion builds between the seal, wheel, or sensor we almost never find cleaning or using a sealant to hold. In our experience, it’s generally better to come back for a seal, rather than having to come back multiple times for repairs.

5) If you have a flat and add liquids such as “fix a flat,” the sensor can become damaged. This almost always requires replacement.

When you need tire replacement, seek help from Landmark Honda. It’s very common to find sensors broken or cracked after tire installation. Also, when the TPMS system is reset, it takes an estimated 30 miles before the system’s self-check is completed--keep this in mind. Generally you’ll see a warning lamp from a damaged TPMS system 30 miles after tire replacement.

TPMS sensors have a limited life. They run off a battery that is similar to a battery in a wrist watch. The battery is made into the sensor on your Honda. American Honda indicates during training that sensors commonly go from 7 to 10 years. We are now starting to see TPMS sensor replacement at as low as 5-6 years. It’s much more inexpensive dealing with this with tire replacement than coming back with a failure.

If your Honda is a 2009 model or older, we highly recommend you consider replacing the sensors at your next tire replacement. This will save you a significant amount of money.

Also, use plastic-type valve caps. Many people don’t like the look of the green cap, and we do use a plastic cap with a green tip. However, the more “attractive” alloy or chrome caps can increase corrosion and seize to the tip of the sensor. This leads to the tip of the sensor breaking off as you remove the valve cap. This almost always leads to a completely flat tire in seconds, and will require replacement of the TPMS sensor.

Sensor Rear
Rear side of the sensor cut off to expose the battery
Failed Sensors
These sensors failed due to damage caused by improper installation by an aftermarket facilities
Chrome Cap
This is a chrome (steel) value cap that the corrosion sized the unit together. The tip twist off in the valve cap. This renders sensor replacement. 
Rubber Seal
This is the rubber seal portion of the unit. The light flaky partials are corrosion. When against the steel or alloy wheels it’s easy to develop leaks. 
New TPMS sensor
New TPMS sensor
New TPMS Sensor
New TPMS sensor
Seals and Washers
Seals and washers. Not all sensors have seals / washers / lock nut. Sold separately.
Sensor Mounted
TPMS sensor mounted on a wheel
Sensor Mounted
TPMS sensor mounted on a wheel

Finally, nitrogen can help. It won’t completely eliminate all issues but certainly will help. It’s much more consistent than basic air and you won’t deal with seeing the warning lamp as often. The dryness from nitrogen helps eliminates failures--you can see in the pictures how corrosion or water affects them. Nitrogen is an inexpensive solution to a problem that often costs people both time and money.

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Maintaining Your Honda from the Technician's Perspective 

No one wants to spend money unnecessarily for service or repairs, but you may not be hearing the full story about how much maintenance your vehicle really needs. To get a better understanding of a vehicle's real cost of ownership vs. its advertised "cost of ownership," it's necessary to understand why the advertised cost of ownership is generally lower than the true amount. Often, there is incentive to make this cost seem as low as possible. Why? Because the lower the cost of ownership, the better the car will sell. In fact, this is one of the largest indicators that drive new car sales. This may be difficult to relate to, but indicators show that a more attractive ranking is better than suggesting realistic maintenance needs. The concept of lower cost equals more buyers.

Almost all auto manufactures have some type of indicator that illuminates to inform drivers of routine maintenance needed. On your Honda, it’s called the “Maintenance Minder,” and displays letters and numbers which indicate the type of service necessary. When reading your owner’s manual, the minder system is described as an exact system and you are advised to follow this for maintenance needs. However, we find this system to be inadequate for the Washington metro driving areas because of certain discrepancies. For example, the minder system will not inform you of conditions such as low fluids, a dirty filter, or a worn out brake pad. If a service is not completed and the minder system is still reset, the system will not resend another message until its next cycle--the system registers that the work was completed, even though it wasn’t. By not performing a regular service, the vehicle could end up needing a repair, versus a maintenance service. Typically, repairs are more costly than servicing.

As your service provider, the issue we find puzzling is that many areas found in need of service actually don’t have indicators that send a message when service is needed. Examples of these are basic service items such as fluids, filters, or other general maintenance items. Tire manufacturers typically recommend rotations in a period of six months, or 5000 miles. Wheel alignments are generally recommended annually. It’s strange that the system is described as a “maintenance program” to follow, but more realistically, it’s a general maintenance estimator--customers need to keep this in mind.

So what should you do as an owner? Have your vehicle reviewed by a Honda certified technician. Visually inspect systems. If you have a filter or fluid system that’s found worn, broken or deteriorating, don’t wait for a minder code. We suggest common sense practices. Fluid maintenance is vital. Oil changes at every 5000 miles. Tire rotation should not exceed 5000 miles. Perform a wheel alignment check annually. As previously mentioned, in the long run it’s much less expensive to perform maintenance than repairs.

We also have some additional important information from your owner’s manual. American Honda states that if you drive in any one of the following conditions, it’s considered “severe.” Four out of the five are everyday occurrences:

Below are some photos of what we often find while servicing Honda vehicles in the Washington metro driving conditions.

Click For Maintenance Money ($10 Coupon)

Air Filters

Pictured above: Clean air filter (top) vs. dirty air filter (bottom) that came out of a 2014 Odyssey with 14,273 miles. The customer was here for an oil change. No additional maintenance code were illuminated. This car was purchased this vehicle 11 months ago.

Brake Pad Comparison

Pictured above: Clean brake pads (top) vs. worn out brake pads (bottom) that came out of a 2013 Accord with 21,564 miles. The customer purchased this vehicle 22 months ago.

Micron Filter Comparison

Pictured above: Clean micron filter for the ventilation system (top) vs. micron filter (bottom) on a 2014 Pilot SUV with 13,721 miles. The customer purchased this vehicle 10 months ago.

Transmission Fluid Comparison

Pictured above: Clean transmission fluid(top) vs. transmission fluid (bottom) that came out of a 2013 Odyssey van with 28,256 miles. The customer purchased this vehicle 26 months ago.

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