How To Turn VTM-4 On And Off In A Honda Pilot (2023)

The Honda variable torque management 4-wheel-drive (VTM-4) system is an optional feature in earlier model years of the Honda Pilot. You might be wondering how you can turn this feature on and off to suit your driving needs. We have done the research, and here's what we found out.

The VTM-4 system is always on and cannot be turned off. However, you can engage or disengage the VTM-4 Lock if you drive through difficult terrain. To engage this feature, you need to press the "VTM-4 Lock" button while you are in some specific low-speed conditions.

Would you like to know more about the Honda Pilot and its VTM-4 feature? Do read on, and we will do our best to help you appreciate some of this SUV's capabilities using this impressive drive system.

Before you continue reading, let us say we hope you find the links here useful. If you purchase something through a link on this page, we may get a commission, so thank you!

How To Turn VTM-4 On And Off In A Honda Pilot (1)

How Do You Engage VTM-4 Lock On A Honda Pilot?

How To Turn VTM-4 On And Off In A Honda Pilot (2)

If you find yourself driving your Honda Pilot through lightly or moderately challenging terrains, then it would be good to allow the VTM-4's auto mode to manage the situation.

However, if you encounter a slippery uphill slope, thick snow, mud, or other more severe terrains, then it might be a good idea to engage the VTM-4 Lock. To do this, you will need to follow the instructions below:

  1. Your Honda Pilot must be at a full stop or moving no faster than 18 miles per hour (30 km/h).
  2. Your shift lever must be on first, second, or reverse gear.
  3. Press the "VTM-4 Lock" button between the driver's instrument panel and the radio.
  4. Once the "VMT-4 Lock" button's indicator light is on, your Pilot will be using all four wheels more aggressively to tackle the terrain.

When one or more tires have little or no traction, Honda advises VTM-4 Lock users not to spin the front tires for more than a few seconds. If needed, the driver should also try moving forward and backward and slowly wiggling the front tires to help get more momentum and traction.

Moreover, Honda specifies that VTM-4 Lock is unsuitable for dry, paved roads. Prolonged usage of the VTM-4 Lock on such surfaces may damage the rear differential, especially when the vehicle is making turns.

How Do You Disengage VTM-4 Lock On A Honda Pilot?

The VTM-4 lock disengages temporarily when the Honda Pilot moves faster than 18 miles per hour. However, the disengagement is only temporary as VTM-4 Lock will engage again once the vehicle's speed drops below the same speed threshold.

(Video) VTM-4 fix, 2005 Honda Pilot

The VTM-4 Lock indicator light stays on in both instances until the driver manually disengages the feature. To disengage VTM-4, you must follow any one of these steps:

  • Press the "VTM-4 Lock" button so that the indicator light turns off.
  • Move the shift lever to "D" (drive).
  • Turn the ignition switch to the "lock" or "0" position.

Once the VTM-4 Lock disengages, your Honda Pilot goes back to its VTM-4 auto mode. Now you can drive normally on paved roads or even mildly challenging terrain while letting the VTM-4 system manage your traction requirements.

What Are Honda's Different All-Wheel-Drive Systems?

Currently, Honda and its luxury brand Acura have three (3) different all-wheel-drive (AWD) systems.

  1. Honda VTM-4 (and its successor, the Honda i-VTM4)
  2. Honda Real Time AWD
  3. Acura Super Handling AWD (SH-AWD)

The Honda VTM-4 and i-VTM4 systems are optional features for Honda's two largest crossover SUVs - the Pilot and the Passport. However, they are standard features for Honda's mid-size pick-up truck, the Ridgeline.

How To Turn VTM-4 On And Off In A Honda Pilot (3)

Honda's Real Time AWD, in turn, are optional features for Honda's smaller crossover SUVs - the CR-V and the HR-V.

The Acura SH-AWD is a mechanically-similar version of the Honda i-VTM4. This system is available in the following Acura models:

  • RDX compact crossover SUV
  • MDX mid-size crossover SUV
  • TLX sports sedan
  • RLX sports hybrid sedan (discontinued since 2021)
  • MDX sports hybrid SUV (discontinued since 2021)
  • NSX supercar

How To Turn VTM-4 On And Off In A Honda Pilot (4)

What Is Honda VTM-4?

The Honda VTM-4 is a lightweight AWD system that automatically distributes torque as needed to all four wheels. As Honda explains, the VTM-4 uses a single-speed torque transfer unit directly connected to the transaxle in addition to two electromagnetic clutch packs installed on both sides of the rear differential.

When the VTM-4 is in auto mode, it operates in two different ways.

(Video) What Does Check Engine and Vtm 4 Light Mean?

First, during normal operations like highway cruising, the VTM-4 system automatically disengages the rear clutch packs. The engine powers the front wheels while the rear wheels rotate freely. In this way, there is less stress on the drivetrain components, and the vehicle is more fuel-efficient.

However, if the VTM-4 system detects that some wheels are spinning faster than the others (wheel slippage), it operates in a second way. In this situation, the rear clutch packs would lock and route power to the rear wheels. This way, VTM-4 will help maximize traction.

VTM-4's second operation happens when the vehicle experiences wheel slippage in snowy, muddy, rocky, or sandy terrain. However, it also automatically engages the rear clutch packs to aid vehicle traction during some normal driving situations, such as hard launches and uphill climbs.

When the VTM-4 Lock is engaged, the system operates a third way. This time, the VTM-4 system does not have to wait to detect wheel slippage. The rear clutch packs would already lock from the beginning, and this will help the vehicle's traction in more severe road conditions.

We do have to point out that VTM-4 Lock does not function as a true 4x4 locking differential does. Whereas VTM-4's dual-clutch packs allow some limited rear-wheel slippage, a true locking differential only allows the wheels on the same axle to rotate at exactly the same speed.

What Is Honda i-VTM4?

Honda Intelligent variable torque management (i-VTM4) is a highly-advanced AWD system that utilizes torque vectoring for the rear axle wheels. This AWD system made its debut in 2015 with the third-generation Honda Pilot, and is also available in the new Passport and Ridgeline models.

The iVTM-4 system is the technological child of two other Honda technologies: the VTM-4 and the Active Torque Transfer System (ATTS).

Whereas VTM-4 automatically managed power between the front and rear axles, ATTS in turn, managed power between wheels of the same axle. Combined, the VTM-4's and the ATTS' power distribution becomes the foundation for torque vectoring.

What Is i-VTM4 Torque Vectoring?

Acura's SH-AWD system, which is iVTM-4's mechanically-similar cousin, is the world's first AWD system with active torque vectoring.

The iVTM-4 system can route up to 70% of the engine's torque to the rear wheels. Then, using active torque vectoring, the system can distribute up to 100% of that rear-allocated torque to either the left or the right wheel.

(Video) Honda Pilot 3.5 V6 VTEC 4WD VTM-4 - 4x4 test on rollers

What do these percentages mean? When the Pilot finds itself in a terrain where only one of its rear wheels has sufficient traction, the iVTM-4 system can send 70% of the engine's torque to that single rear wheel. With enough traction, that single rear wheel can take the Pilot out of a literal ditch.

Moreover, i-VTM4's benefits are not limited to slow, off-road situations. The system also provides excellent vehicle handling and accurate steering at higher speeds.

Can I Turn i-VTM4 On And Off?

Like its predecessor, the i-VTM4 system is always on and fully automated. However, unlike the older system, i-VTM4 does not have a "VTM-4 Lock" button. Instead, i-VTM4 works with other vehicle systems like the Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) to make a truly intelligent AWD system.

Nevertheless, the i-VTM4 system still gives the driver a significant degree of control over how the AWD system behaves. Using the Intelligent Traction Management button, a driver can choose among four AWD modes, namely "Normal," "Snow," "Mud," and "Sand."

These modes are listed with respect to how aggressively the iVTM-4 system responds to road conditions. Normal mode prioritizes smooth vehicle handling at high speeds on paved roads, while Sand mode calibrates the system for the most challenging terrains.

In a way, Sand Mode is the closest equivalent of the older VTM-4 Lock mode.

What Is Honda Real Time AWD?

How To Turn VTM-4 On And Off In A Honda Pilot (5)

Real Time AWD is Honda's all-wheel-drive system for the CR-V, HR-V, as well as the lower trim levels of the Passport and the Pilot. Real Time AWD provides many of the benefits of the VTM-4 and i-VTM4 systems. However, there are distinct differences.

Compared to the older VTM-4, Real Time AWD does not have a VTM-4 Lock equivalent. This means that in the direst situation, you can only turn off your traction control and depend on the system to manage the power distribution between the front and rear axles.

Realtime AWD also does not have torque vectoring like the i-VTM4.

(Video) CHECK ENGINE LIGHT P0505, VTM-4 LIGHT - 2003 Honda Pilot idle air control valve repair

In a nutshell, Honda designed the Realtime AWD primarily for safety in moderately challenging road conditions. It is not designed for off-roading or for sport.

Which Honda Pilot Has i-VTM4?

The i-VTM4 system comes standard in the Pilot's TrailSport, Elite, and Black Edition trims. However, it is an available option for all other trims.

How Much Is A Honda Pilot?

How To Turn VTM-4 On And Off In A Honda Pilot (6)

The current US-spec Honda Pilot trims and their corresponding starting prices are below. These prices are accurate as of May 2022.

  • Sport - $ 38,080
  • EX-L - $ 40,310
  • Special Edition - $ 40,910
  • TrailSport - $ 44,810
  • Touring - $ 44,870
  • Elite - $ 50,370
  • Black Edition - $ 51,870

Wrapping Up

The Honda Pilot's VTM-4 system is always on and needs no driver interaction. However, you can engage or disengage the VTM-4 Lock, which is a sub-feature of this system. In newer Pilot models that have the iVTM-4 system, the VTM-4 Lock is no longer available.

Thank you very much for reading. We hope that we were able to help you understand more about the Honda Pilot's remote starting feature.

If you would like to read up on more interesting automotive topics, then please check out these great articles:

How To Program Honda Pilot Garage Door Opener [In 6 Easy Steps!]

How To Roll Windows Down With Key Fob [Toyota, Ford And More]

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(Video) honda pilot 2014 4wd vtm-4 lock diagonnal test in snow


How do you turn on a VTM-4 Honda Pilot? ›

If you become stuck, you can activate the VTM-4 by pressing the VTM-4 LOCK button while in first (1), second (2), or reverse (R) gear below 18 mph (30 km/h). This mode overrides the auto system to send maximum torque to the rear axle.

How do I clear the VTM-4 light? ›

How to fix the VTM-4 light? You can also try pressing and holding the VTM-4 button on the dashboard if the car is in running mode. The light must have gone off by now. If not, it's better that you take your car to the mechanic to get it resolved.

What is the Honda Pilot VTM-4 lock button for? ›

The Variable Torque Management 4WD System (VTM-4) automatically transfers varying amounts of engine torque to the rear wheels under lower traction conditions. If more traction is needed when your MDX is stuck, or is likely to become stuck, you can use the VTM-4 Lock button to increase torque to the rear wheels.

What causes the VTM-4 light to come on? ›

If it comes on, it means that your car has lower traction at that particular moment. Normally, the VTM-4 light is nothing to worry about. It just means that your torque management system is working to compensate for adverse road conditions.

Can you turn off all wheel drive on Honda Pilot? ›

The VTM-4 system is always on and cannot be turned off. However, you can engage or disengage the VTM-4 Lock if you drive through difficult terrain. To engage this feature, you need to press the "VTM-4 Lock" button while you are in some specific low-speed conditions.

Is the Honda Pilot 4wd all the time? ›

But if you're like most Culver City-area SUV enthusiasts you may be wondering, “Does the Honda Pilot have AWD?” The Honda Pilot comes standard with two-wheel drive, but you have the option to upgrade to the Intelligent Variable Torque Management™ All-Wheel Drive (AWD) System, which provides enhanced traction and ...

How do I clear my check engine light without a scanner? ›

To reset a check engine light without a scanner, disconnect the negative battery cable and wait a few moments. This will reset the diagnostic system in your vehicle, and if the underlying issue has indeed been resolved, the light should go off immediately.

How do you clear the engine code on a Honda Pilot? ›

How to Reset Honda Check Engine Light
  1. Turn off the ignition. ...
  2. Locate the negative terminal. ...
  3. Loosen the nut on the negative terminal with a wrench. ...
  4. Reconnect the negative cable and tighten it back up with your wrench.
  5. This should reset the check engine light for your Honda car.

How do I clear my engine warning light? ›

The easiest way to reset a check engine light is to disconnect the negative (black/-) battery cable and hold it to the side for 30 to 60 seconds. This will allow your internal diagnostics systems to reset.

When should I change VTM-4 fluid Honda Pilot? ›

Replace VTM-4 rear differential fluid

If you regularly drive your vehicle under these conditions, have the differential fluid changed at 7,500 miles (12,000 km), then every 15,000 miles (24,000 km).

What would cause a check engine light to come on and stay on? ›

Just about anything wrong with your vehicle's ignition system will likely cause your check engine light to come on. If you haven't had your plugs changed and your vehicle has over 100,000 miles on it, it's time for new plugs and possibly new wires. Stalls are another indicator of spark plug trouble.

Why does my check engine light come on and stay on? ›

A problem with either your spark plug wires or the spark plugs themselves could cause your check engine light to come on. Ignoring this problem may lead to a clogged catalytic converter, damaged ignition coils, or problems with your oxygen sensor.

Should I drive with AWD on or off? ›

AWD is fine for most normal snow conditions or for light-duty, off-pavement excursions on dirt roads or slippery surfaces. If you'll be driving in severe snow or true off-road situations, or if you're interested in pursuing off-roading as a hobby, you should opt for a vehicle with 4WD and lots of ground clearance.

Is it OK to drive in AWD all the time? ›

Car and Driver notes that 4WD is not meant to be used all the time. It's only for certain road types, including rugged terrain and off-roading, as well as slippery conditions, like snow or mud. Otherwise, 4WD vehicles should be driven in two-wheel drive, according to Car and Driver.

Can 4WD be turned off? ›

However, most 4WD systems can now be shifted into or out of 4WD on the fly at the push of a button. The most sophisticated 4WD systems are fully automatic. They shift into and out of 4WD automatically as the system detects the need for more traction.

Is Honda AWD always on? ›

Honda Real-Time AWD turns your normally front-wheel-drive Honda into an all-wheel-drive vehicle, but only when it's needed. This means your car will run as a standard front-wheel-drive vehicle otherwise and provides you with that extra level of safety, security, and reliability that Honda is known for.

How do I get my Honda Pilot out of 4 wheel drive? ›

It transmits engine torque to the appropriate drive axle depending on the available traction conditions. The 4WD system is automatic.
To disengage 4WD, do any of the following:
  1. Push the VTM-4 LOCK button.
  2. Set the shifter to D.
  3. Set the ignition to the LOCK position.
Aug 5, 2022

How does 4 wheel drive work on Honda Pilot? ›

The i-VTM4 AWD system has a pair of electro-hydraulically actuated clutch packs—one to drive each rear wheel—allowing for varying amounts of torque to be directed to each rear wheel independently. The result is a more precise response to loss of traction and enhanced stability when you need it most.

Will check engine light reset itself? ›

Will your check engine light turn off by itself? In most cases, successfully repairing the issue that caused your light to come on will cause the check engine light to turn off automatically—but only after 10 to 20 “cycles”.

How long does it take for a car computer to reset? ›

Here's something you probably don't know: after clearing the car's computer you will need to drive for about 50 to 100 miles. As you drive your car the computer will monitor all the sensors and register the results.

Does disconnecting battery reset codes? ›

Leaving the battery disconnected for a few minutes will ensure the vehicle systems will completely reset when you reconnect the battery. Secure the negative cable back to the terminal and cover it with the cap. Disconnecting the battery will clear the error codes and reset the check engine light.

Can Autozone reset engine codes? ›

Wondering if the local Autozone can turn off a check engine light? The answer is yes, but… there are a couple things to remember: Local auto parts stores will typically offer to read your codes for free, but not all locations will clear the light due to liability issues.

Where is the fuse for check engine light? ›

The engine compartment fuse box is under the driver side leaf screen in the engine compartment.

Is it OK to drive with check engine light on? ›

Can you drive a car with the engine light on? It's okay to drive for a few miles, but be sure to schedule an inspection of the engine as soon as possible. If the check engine light comes on while you're driving, don't panic! Pay attention and see if the car is driving any differently than normal.

How do you turn on the AWD on a Honda Pilot? ›

To change modes, drivers press the Intelligent Traction Management button behind the shifter; the button is labeled SNOW on 2WD models, and has a vehicle-profile icon on AWD models. On the first push, the DII will display the modes available.

How do you turn on all wheel drive Honda Pilot? ›

Press the "VTM-4 Lock" button between the driver's instrument panel and the radio. Once the "VMT-4 Lock" button's indicator light is on, your Pilot will be using all four wheels more aggressively to tackle the terrain.

How do you turn on traction control on a Honda Pilot? ›

This switch is under the side vent. It lets you turn the Traction Control System on and off. You cannot turn off the TCS while the TCS indicator is flashing. Deactivate the system by pressing the TCS On/Off switch.

Is Honda Pilot always in AWD? ›

But if you're like most Culver City-area SUV enthusiasts you may be wondering, “Does the Honda Pilot have AWD?” The Honda Pilot comes standard with two-wheel drive, but you have the option to upgrade to the Intelligent Variable Torque Management™ All-Wheel Drive (AWD) System, which provides enhanced traction and ...

How do I activate my AWD? ›

All-wheel drive is not intended to be engaged manually; as such, there is typically no need (or ability) to manually engage one's all-wheel drive system. Some vehicles do include an “AWD Lock” button. This button will lock the system into 50/50 distribution of power between the front and rear wheels.

Can you disengage 4 wheel drive while driving? ›

Typically, you can switch to 4WD while you're driving. However, it's best to make the switch while you're going at a slow speed and driving in a straight line. Doing so can be really helpful on slick roads, dirt roads, or any other surface with limited traction.

Can you disengage AWD? ›

Once enabled, the AWD remains enabled until the AWD switch is turned off. If the switch is turned off while the demand drive unit is moving, it will not disengage until the rear wheels regain traction. Engage the AWD switch before getting into conditions where front wheel drive may be needed.

How do you turn off the VTM-4 on a Honda Pilot 2022? ›

But if you want to disengage the lock, you must do the following:
  1. Press the “VTM-4 Lock” button so that the light turns off.
  2. Move the shift lever to “D” or drive.
  3. Turn the ignition switch to the “lock” or “0” position.
Dec 26, 2022

Is AWD on all the time? ›

All-Wheel Drive

The difference between AWD and 4WD is that AWD is typically always on while you can toggle between having 4WD on and off. 4WD is an addition you'll usually find on a truck, while AWD is more for cars and SUVs.

Does AWD stay on all the time? ›

Most 4WD pickup trucks and SUVs use a “part-time” system, which requires you to engage four-wheel when needed. On an AWD car or sport-utility, the system is active all the time.

How do you manually turn off traction control? ›

Traction Control - Switching Traction Control On and Off

Press and release the button to switch traction control off. The stability control system remains fully active, to switch it off, press and hold the button for a few seconds, then release.

How do I know if my traction control is on or off? ›

In many vehicles, if you look to the bottom left or right of your steering wheel, you will see the traction control button. Sometimes it will say “off” under the image, and in other cars, it will show a light indicating whether the traction control is on or off.


1. Service Tip: VTM-4 Lock
(Dick Hannah Honda)
2. 2012 Honda Pilot 4WD Lock and Tailgate Alarm Demonstration
3. Honda Pilot VTM-4 demo
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(iTech TV)
5. How to engage the 4WD (VTM-4 LOCK) Honda Ridgeline
(Jason’s Move)
6. How to fix VTM 4 LOCK MDX/ PILOT


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