Common OBD-II Codes And What They Mean To You

What follows is a list of the most common generic OBD-II codes, and what they mean in terms of drivability and repair. For OBD-I codes and how to pull them – either with a code scanner or by staring at a Morse-Code series of check-engine light flashes on your dashboard – your best resource will be a dealer, mechanic or website specializing in your classic ride.

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P0011/12, P0022/23 – Camshaft A and B, Excessive Retard/Advance

What it means: If you’ve got a single-overhead cam engine, it means that your camshaft is out of sync with the crankshaft. If you’ve got a dual-cam engine, it can mean one cam is out of sync with the other.

What’s broke: It could mean that your timing belt has jumped a tooth, or that your camshaft positioning mechanism isn’t working properly. You’ll need to take this code into context with other codes – like a P0340, indicating cam position sensor malfunction – to determine the nature of the problem.

Can I drive it: If it starts and runs, probably yes. Depending upon the engine and type of failure, you can expect a drop in fuel economy and low-end torque, a loss in top-end horsepower or both. But don’t just ignore this one, since it can indicate bigger problems.

P0068 – Throttle Position Sensor Inconsistent with Mass Airflow Sensor Reading

What it means: Your primary airflow-measuring sensor, the MAF, is reporting that either too much or too little air is going through the engine compared to the position of the throttle.

What’s broke: Your MAF could be malfunctioning, or the TPS could be bad, depending upon what other codes you have. If you’ve got a code P0101 through P0104, then it’s a bad MAF sensor; if you’ve got a code P0120 through P0124, it could be a bad TPS. If both sensors are working correctly, you could have a leak in the tubing between the MAF sensor on the air box and the throttle body on the engine.

Can I drive it: If it starts and runs, probably, yes. Just be wary if you see other codes indicating a lean condition, since that could fry your engine. Expect a loss in performance and throttle response.

P0114 – Intake Air Temperature Sensor Intermittent

What it means: The thermometer that sits in your intake manifold or air intake tubing isn’t working.

What’s broke: Probably the intake air temperature sensor itself, or the wiring or plug leading to it. This is particularly likely if you’re getting codes P0110 through P0113 along with it.

Can I drive it: If it starts and runs, yes. The IAT is one of several sensors that your computer uses to calculate oxygen density. If the IAT reads intermittently, the computer will eventually learn to ignore it and go into a default program called “open loop.” Open-loop operation is a failsafe mode that will cost you power and fuel economy, but should preserve your engine.

P0125 through P0128 – Coolant thermostat below thermostat regulating temperature

What it means: The coolant is too cold for the sensor to read or for the thermostat to open.

What’s broke: It could mean that your engine isn’t reaching operating temperature, which means either that it’s very cold out and the engine can’t warm up, or that the thermostat is stuck open and coolant isn’t staying in the engine. It could also mean that there’s a problem with the sensor itself.

Can I drive it: Yes, as long as you’re not getting any other codes. You can expect a drop in efficiency and power, but you’re not going to blow anything up with the engine running cooler than it should be. Be advised, though, that this could indicate a sensor failure. In which case, the engine could be running quite a bit hotter than you think.

P0440 through P0459 – Evaporative Emissions System Malfunction

What it means: Fuel is either leaking or evaporating out of your fuel system.

What’s broke: You’d be surprised how much fuel you can lose through evaporation, especially on a hot day. The EVAP system is a multi-part system aimed at containing fuel vapors so that they don’t escape the system or fuel tank. This is one of those “you’re going to kick yourself” faults, since it usually means that either you left the gas tank cap off or didn’t tighten it. You might also have a malfunctioning gas cap or cap seal. While there are other parts of the EVAP system, gas cap problems are common enough to call it probable.

Can I drive it: Yes. After you go back to the gas station and find your gas cap.

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