97 Honda Odyssey – ABS Light / Faults?

missmarton, Apr 28, 3:54pm
Hi, my car is a 1997 Honda Odyssey (Silver) with an annoying and probably expensive ABS light issue. The basic details of the car are; Chassis: RA1-1225789 VIN: 7A88G610706225789 Engine No: F22B-4337693.

I don’t use my car every day, but being disabled and usually getting around with a walking frame, I do have to use it for shopping, medical appointments etc.

I bought it a few years simply ago because it was relatively easy at the time to put the walker in the boot and as I’m quite tall it is easy to get in and out of. I live in Marton and although the shops are less than a km away, they are now beyond my walking range. I tend to go for a wee drive in the countryside to bring the engine temp up before heading into town.

For some time now, the car has issues with its ABS light on the dash. First start of the day, no matter how far I drive (and it can be a 80 km drive for medical stuff, the ASB light comes on and then goes off, as it should do. When I drive it to come back from the shops or the medics etc, the ABS light stays on. Next drive the same day, sometimes the light goes off as it should, some days it stays on.

In the last year, I’ve had a garage do the normal periodic maintenance I can’t do any more – just the usual, oil and filter, coolant, new brake pads all around and a wheel balance and alignment plus the alternator replaced. It hurts paying for work I once could do but such is life I guess. I got the car in 2015 @ 196,000k and the odo today reads 212,870k so I’ve only put on 16,870k in 6 years.

A WOF is due very soon and dollars to donuts, as soon as the mechanic starts the car the ABS light is going to stay on, even thought it will have been unlit for the drive to the garage. I know there are ABS wheel sensors, but the bloke who did the brakes etc didn’t think they were the issue. I can’t recall why he said that, however.

So what might it be please and what do I need to get checked to find and fix the fault? My flashlight only cost 10$ so I already know that’s not going to help me. Being a 1997 Jap import I have no idea if a diagnostic machine can be plugged in and fault codes interpreted and cleared so I’m a bit lost as to what are the next steps, on a limited budget. Is the issue likely to be mechanical or electrical? I don’t even know why the fault is intermittent and is never an issue on the first start and drive of the day.

Thanks in advance to you clever folk who read and reply ‘cos I really need this sorted.

franc123, Apr 28, 4:06pm
You are going to have to start with finding out what the fault codes are and work from there. Sadly Honda product of that era was notoriously bad for ABS control units failing, the fact its malfunctioning after a bit of use/after an on off cycle of the key makes it more likely. You will be way ahead if you can find an auto sparky or even a brake specialist who has dealt with it before and can suggest an economical course of repair, unless you know someone local in these fields it may mean a trip to Wanganui or PN. A new off the shelf ABS unit for one of those from Honda would cost more than the rest of the car is worth. Top marks to you for supplying the vehicle codes!

kazbanz, Apr 28, 4:07pm
Sorry but frankly internet diagnosis isn't going to fix it.
THE most common issue with those is actually the wire to the seatbelt stalk but that would cause an SRS /Airbag fault code.
Take it to a sparky and have them fix it. My first GUESS would be a faulty wheel sensor.
I must say that an oddity of that age probably pat its use by date. My thought is if its not something simple it might be time to replace it.
-Incidently the PERFECT replacement for YOU is the Toyota Spade.

drsr, Apr 28, 5:38pm
There are some tips about how to get blink codes for ABS problems with just a paperclip here. Bear in mind this is a US-based forum so "passenger side" probably means "drivers side" for an RHD vehicle.
https://www.odyclub.com/threads/abs-trouble-codes.36761/ From a quick look on the forum some people cleared the problem by replacing the battery or cleaning the battery terminals so worth checking if your battery is old, especially at this time of year when batteries tend to start dying. https://www.odyclub.com/threads/just-got-an-abs-light.34463/page-2

mack77, Apr 28, 10:32pm
I had a similar problem on my RA2 odyssey for the last 8 years that I owned it. Despite much research I was not able to determine where the fault was but I suspect that the most likely cause was a leaking accumulator. You can get the fault code by earthing pin 16 (I think) and "reading" the no. of code flashes on the ABS instrument panel light. The DTC that I got was: "pressure not being reached" which can be caused by many things. I already knew that because I could hear the ABS motor run for a long time before "timing out". No parts other than the accumulator were available from Honda then (8 years ago). I decided not to buy another accumulator because of the cost.
I could not find any brake "experts" that had any idea about how to fix it.
Research on the internet showed that many other owners had tried to fix it but all had failed. It seems that they are unfixable.
I solved the problem by disconnecting the ABS electronic control unit so that the ABS lamp didn't illuminate. I was then able to get WOF's for the next 8 years that I owned it; since it's an optional extra on old Odyssey's.
I should be able to give you the precise info. on how to read the DTC, but any Honda agent or maybe any mechanic can do a check with their equipment. Let me know if you need further help.
The same unit is used in the 90's Accords.
I have a used unit out of a wrecked Odyssey, which I think is likely to be good. Could put it on TradeMe if you want it.

missmarton, Apr 29, 3:25pm
Thanks to those who have responded to my questions. The car is booked into an auto sparky next week – I didn’t even know if I should see a mechanic or sparky so that is a result in itself.

We only have one here in Marton and I nearly died on the spot hearing how much just the scan etc is going to cost me. To a lot of folk I guess $125 isn’t much but that is more than I spend on new clothes a year. Then I’ll have to consider the cost of repairs depending on the scan results. My cat won’t be getting pocket money for a long time to come, that’s for sure.

Kaz, thanks for recommending the perfect car for me but price wise it is as out of reach as a ride to the moon is. I’m sure you already know, but a lot of us don’t have much spare coin and with no public transport options in Marton I’m housebound without my car.

My GP is in Taihape (long story) and that is a 160km return trip and I have medical appointments both in Whanganui and Palmy on a regular basis. Last week I was diagnosed with something new to add to my bundle of problems and that requires frequent monitoring as well.

Most folk may feel my car isn’t economical to repair but when options are so limited and I have total dependence on it, maybe it is for me.

For interests sake, I’ll let you all know what is what next week sometime. Thanks again.

kazbanz, Apr 29, 5:05pm
My genuine concern for you is that you are heading into a money pit.
You need a car but can't afford to fix the one you have.
That with a 24 year old Honda Odyssey is a big problem coming up.
My guess if the issue is as franc describes is a $500-$600 repair bill.
I wouldn't normally be an alarmist but my gut says this car is gonna start costing you a lot

mack77, Apr 29, 9:19pm
I disagree with the opinion of some of the other posters above. A decision or advice on what to do can't be made until the OP gets the fault code diagnosis. Once he gets that I will be happy to give him my opinion on what I think is best to do next.
In my experience I have found the main parts of this car to be very reliable. It doesn't have a lot of unneccesary electronic features.
The things that are prone to packing up are 1. air conditioning system, 2. central door locking and 3. the ABS electro-hydraulic brake unit.
None of these things prevent the car from serving it's main purpose; i.e. to get from A to B. The rest of the car including the auto-trans( providing that fluid is occasionaly changed) will last for "ever". There are still heaps of these old RA1's and RA2's on the road whereas most of the newer RA3's, RA4'S, RA5's and RA6's have been scrapped, usually because of failure of the auto-trans.

kazbanz, Apr 30, 12:59pm
I'm not saying I'm right. I just have a gut feeling based on the original post. I've been wrong before and will be wrong again

franc123, Apr 30, 1:22pm
Those ABS modulators were a problem child even from new. I remember coming across an Accord about that year that had been traded in where I worked and discovered the paint underneath it was wrinking and falling off, clearly due to prolonged contact with brake fluid. I rang a former colleague who now worked at a dealership and he sent me a bulletin relating to leaking blanking plugs on the units, which I was able to repair once I got the specified sealant. It was something that would spark a recall nowadays.

missmarton, Apr 30, 4:15pm
Kaz, I appreciate your concern and the spirit in which your posts were made but if I have to throw $5-6 hundy at repairing my old Odyssey, then I can and to me, it is worth the price.

Other than paying for routine services I physically can’t do any more, its only cost me an alternator swap-out since 2015 so it’s given me good service. I’ve never used an auto sparky before and was surprised at the cost of simply getting the car scanned.

I’ve followed the Motoring threads for a few years and every second post seems to talk about having codes scanned as such an ordinary and every day event that I guess I expected it to take 15 minutes and cost maybe 50 bucks. Plus the torch of course.

To me, cars are as has been suggested, a means to end. I need one because of my health and where I live, but I’ve never raved over a car or gone ‘I wish I had one of those instead of an old Odyssey.’ Now if it were a bike, such as my first, a Norton 500 Dommie when 15 or the big Hondas I had from new several decades back or my last one, a 650 Bonnie which my divorce ate up, it would probably share my bedroom but a car? That’s just something I have to have because my health won’t allow me to ride bikes any more. 21 tablets in the morning and 24 at night – I need a car, but I’m not in love with cars. Heresy, I know. A medicine cabinet on wheels may be the answer?

Thanks again to all who have posted here. We’ll know more next week I guess.

missmarton, May 3, 3:18pm
Well, the diagnosis work wasn't nearly as painful as the auto sparky had suggested. $50.99 GST incl. But .

The faulty part is the accumulator pump which seems to only accumulate when if feels so inclined. Dunno what it is supposed to accumulate but it isn't, anyway.

They won't fit a secondhand ABS whatsit (Thanks anyway Mack) but are going to try and track down a servicable thingy. I imagine if available it will cost a bit, but such is life.

Thanks again to those who have posted here.

mack77, May 3, 8:04pm
Well it's good that the charge was more reasonable than the original excessively high estimate they mentioned.
Lets hope that their diagnosis is correct and they can get a serviceable ABS pump; but I don't like their chances.

bigfatmat1, May 3, 9:40pm
You can buy accumulators new last time I replaced one was around $350 trade

missmarton, May 14, 6:18pm
Just an update - all sorted today and account paid. $603.15 gst incl and the new accumulator pump was $299.99.

Kaz you were on the money with your guestimate of the bill but paying it was fairly painless. I never said I didn't have the money, it was only the original estimate for the scanning that hurt but the real thing was a lot less, so all in all, I'm happy to keep driving my old Odyessy until it no longer suits my needs. Tis just a car and that's all I need - a car. I've only twice had a passenger in the second row of seats and never used the third row - they are down so I can get my walking frame in and out of the back. So the old Oddy does what I need it to do. The faulty ASB was just one of those things, like the alternator was a few years back.

Operating cost-wise, I still reckon I'm doing OK with it over the six odd years I've had it. Thanks again to those who commented on my original post.

mack77, May 14, 8:48pm
I'm pleased that you managed to get your Odyssey repaired.
As a matter of interest, was this accumulator pump new or second hand?

redhead18, May 14, 9:54pm
Well done acceptable outcome and well sometimes .
Tis better the Devil ya know.



intrade, May 15, 10:30am
Like i said old cars are cheaper to repair as there is less to go wrong my 03 astra i sold had on wof sheet No abs ligt on dash Then it was crossed out, as it ain't got no abs

kazbanz, May 15, 1:45pm
hey if it works for you then that's fantastic.
I guess my problem is I get to see lots of those where the 'sudden and unforeseen " has happened. in fairness its the nature of my job that you tend to see them in terminal condition.
Gearboxes are the big one but blown head gaskets are next.--Again in fairness the head gaskets are the symptom not the issue-generally the radiator and/or hoses have split.

franc123, Aug 8, 5:50pm
Its just the rest of the car that you have to worry about malfunctioning, Opels and rebadged Holden versions are absolute trash, only an idiot would own one. Nobody who has even been in a situation where an extreme braking manoevre had to be performed would say having ABS omitted in a car which did actually have provision for it during its manufacture is any sort of a plus point. The base model Corsa/Barina did not have it either at that time which is disgusting for an early 2000's car.

Share this thread

Buy me a coffee :)Buy me a coffee :)