61-1 Code – Meaning, Causes, and Solution

Are you getting a 61-1 fault code and not sure what it means? This article will discuss the possible causes, symptoms, and what you can do to fix the issue. There are multiple car owners who experience this fault code and are not sure how to address it. So what exactly does this fault code indicate?

The 61-1 code indicates a battery malfunction in your vehicle. It is most common in Honda vehicles. Low voltage caused by a bad battery or faulty alternator may be responsible for the 61-1 code you are getting.

Still not clear on what it means? Don’t worry! Subsequently, I will elaborate on the 61-1 battery voltage malfunction, common symptoms, causes, and solutions. 

What is 61-1: Battery Voltage Malfunction?

The 2009 Honda Pilot Technician Service Bulletin (TSB) defines the ABS error code as VSA Modulator-control Unit Initial IG Low Voltage. Other similar codes include DTC 61-2, 61-22, and 61-23: defined as VSA Modulator-control Unit Power Source Low Voltage 1, voltage 2, and voltage 3, respectively.

61-1 fault code

Before we move on, let me expand on the meaning of VSA. VSA means Vehicle Stability Assist by Honda. The software improves the driver’s experience during braking, acceleration, and drifting. It functions by relying on information provided by sensors found around the car.

To properly diagnose the 61-1 code,  turn the ignition switch on and clear the DTC code with the Honda Diagnostic System (An OBDII tool). This is to clear any stored code. If there is no code, it could be a loose terminal issue.

If the code is still present, you should check and analyze battery voltage using a voltmeter. Most times, the code is caused by a bad battery or alternator.

Check for any updates to the VSA modulator-control unit as it could resolve the code. 

Common symptoms of 61-1 code

The 61-1 code is just your vehicle’s way of letting you know that its battery’s voltage is low or has malfunctioned. The common symptoms you will notice affects many electronic components in your vehicle. These symptoms include:

The car has a tough time starting

If you are having a tough time starting your car, this could be a symptom of the 61-1 code.

Since the battery supplies low voltage, typically below 10.8 volts, the car will struggle to crank and need to be jump-started frequently.

A battery needs at least 10.8 to 11.8V to start your car, and any voltage below will fall short.

Interior lights don t function properly.

Another symptom of the 61-1 code is dim interior lighting. A bad battery or bad alternator may cause your vehicle’s interior lighting to be dim. The alternator relies on the battery, while other electrical components of your car rely on the alternator to function properly.

The battery should be between 13.5-14.5V after starting the engine for the interior lighting to work properly.

AC is not working properly.

If you notice that your AC is not working properly, this could be caused by a poor supply of voltage to the air compressor.

The air conditioning system relies on the drive belt, air compressor, and electrical power, including the car battery and alternator. Failure of the battery and alternate to supply the required voltage will not kick the car AC compressor. 

Common causes:

The common causes of the 61-1 code can be traced to major components supplying electricity to your vehicles. They include:

Bad battery:

A bad battery will most likely cause the 61-1 code to be triggered in your vehicle. When the battery is bad, it will either supply low voltage or fail to supply voltage. Other signs of a bad battery include failure of the car to start, dim lights, battery requiring jump start, and the battery warning light

To test the battery strength, you will need a voltmeter. Follow the listed steps: 

  • Get rid of surface charge by turning on the external and internal headlights. 
  • Set your voltmeter to 15-20 volts and turn off the car’s lights as directed in step 1.
  • Connect each cable of the voltmeter to the negative and positive terminal of the battery.
  • Note, If your battery reads below 12-13 volts, you may have a bad battery that needs replacement.
  • Start your vehicle without disconnecting the voltmeter and check for a volt above 10V. If your battery voltage drops below 5 volts, your battery is dead. 

Bad alternator

The alternator is responsible for keeping your car and battery alive after you start your vehicle. It helps to power many electrical components in the car, including the radio, car wiper, headlights, and more. The alternator supplies these components with the direct current while charging the battery.

It works by converting mechanical energy to electrical energy. The alternator is connected to the belt and pulley. The pulley spins the alternator rotor to generate an alternating current, which is then converted to DC and fed to the vehicle’s electrical components.

Your car can have its battery removed while on. It is made possible by the alternator.

So, how do you test for a bad alternator? You can follow the steps listed below to test your alternator.

  • Get your voltmeter ready for this test.
  • Ensure your battery voltage is between 12.5V and 13V while the engine is off.
  • Start the engine, and check for an increase in voltage. If you notice a voltage increase, the alternator is functioning properly. Your alternator is fine if you get a voltage of 13V and above.

Corroded battery terminals 

Another cause of the 61-1 code is corroded battery terminals. The corrosion on the battery terminal depends on which terminal it occurs. Corrosion on the positive terminal is caused by overcharging and will appear as a white or blueish substance depending on the type of metal used for the terminal.

In addition, corrosion of the negative terminal of the battery is caused by an inability to charge well. The corrosion appears as a white substance called sulfation.

Possible solutions to the 61-1 code

So what are some possible solutions to fix this error? Here are some fixes that you can try to fix the 61-1 code in your vehicle.

Repair wiring between fuse and VSA Modulator control unit

Due to vehicle age, driving conditions, poor maintenance, and weather conditions, it is inevitable that some vehicle wiring will get damaged. This is one of the more tedious repairs that we, mechanics, hate working on.

The main reason is that it can take several hours to spot the problem, as some of the more modern vehicles have up to 5000 feet of wiring.

Replace bad car battery

Replacing your car battery should be included in any car’s maintenance schedule. Unfortunately, there are still a lot of cars on the road that have battery problems. Some drivers keep ignoring the signals until is too late, and the car won’t start anymore.

If your battery is old, replacing it with a new one can definitely make the error code disappear.

Replace bad alternator

Similar to other car components, alternators do go bad after a while. Replacing the alternator is not a cheap task, but is definitely needed. Be prepared to pay between $350-$500 for parts and labor.

Clean corrosion on the battery terminal

Another easy DIY is checking that the battery terminals are clean. Sometimes, they corrode, especially in more humid countries. You can clean them and see if the fault code goes away.

Clear or delete code on the module

Although unlikely, sometimes this works. Clearing the fault code will sometimes fix the issue. However, don’t get your hopes up. It is something worth trying, though.

Substitute or update the VSA modulator control unit

Sometimes your only option will be to replace the VSA modulator unit. Unfortunately, this is not a cheap repair and should only be done as a lost resort. It is worth looking for a used part, as this will reduce your repair cost considerably.