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P0087 Code – What Does It Mean & How To Fix It

This is one of the most frequent OBD2 trouble codes. Read the full article below to know what it means, how to fix it, and what other codes may show related to it.

Definition

P0087 is Fuel Rail/System Pressure - Too Low, indicates a fuel system problem.

The fuel rail/system comes with a sensor that monitors its fuel pressure and varies the pump speed accordingly. The error code P0087 is triggered when the PCM (Powertrain Control Module) detects low fuel pressure in its fuel pressure sensor.  This problem is normally caused by the fuel pump, fuel supply pipe blockage, fuel pressure regulator, or a mechanical fault.

Meaning

P0087 is a general OBD II error code that specifies a fault within the fuel delivery system.  Normally, vehicles have a returnless fuel supply system which means that the fuel pump has the ability to deliver fuel at a varying rate. There is a sensor called the Powertrain Control Module or Engine Control Module (PCM/ECM) which monitors the fuel pressure and informs the user if the pressure is below the required threshold limit.

When the vehicle needs more power to run faster, drive uphill, or tow something, the PCM raises the fuel pressure and sends more fuel to the engine. As soon as the need to support that heavy load passes on and the engine can take it easier, PCM reduces the pressure to conserve fuel.

A sensor on the fuel rail measures fuel pressure, if the pressure falls below the expected  threshold,   the check light  will be triggered by the PCM, and a  failsafe mode  will be enacted to prevent damage until repaired.

Causes

There are various factors that can potentially contribute to affect fuel delivery to the engine and can trigger P0087 code. Some of them are listed below:

  • Failed fuel pump
  • Restricted fuel line
  • High mileage vehicles or bad fuel
  • Faulty fuel pressure sensor
  • Faulty fuel pump driver module
  • Weak fuel pump
  • Restricted fuel pump supply line due to a various issue such as gunk, debris, poor quality fuel or fuel filter
  • Inaccurate or incorrect reading of fuel pressure sensor

If the fuel level reaches to critically low level then also PCM can trigger a code P0087, even though   it has negligible relevance to the fuel rail’s pressure levels.

Symptoms

The engine consumes fuel to provide power to the entire vehicle. If the fuel pressure drops off from the set level then the engine’s performance  will deteriorate. Below mentioned are few symptoms which can help  to  identify the presence of a P0087 code fault in your vehicle:

  • Check Engine Light turns ON
  •    Vehicle performance degradation,  noticed  during acceleration.  
  •  Engine performance suffers due to insufficient fuel, leading to misfires due to rough running, running lean, or high RPMs.
  • The engine may experience stalling
  • A poor sensor can also result in Fuel efficiency drops as the vehicle consumes more fuel than necessary.

Diagnosis

 Usually, the fuel pressure monitor doesn’t work until the fuel pressure sensor monitor is already running. If you see a concurrent fuel pressure sensor or circuit diagnostic trouble code then analyze and fix it first. Then after you can focus on fuel pressure. . 

For the diagnosis of P1000 code, you’ll need a Manual Fuel Pressure Tester and OBD2 Scanner

Below are the steps to solve the DTC code P0087 correctly:

  • Firstly, ensure that you are not short on fuel using the manual fuel pressure tester. If you run out of fuel, there won’t be sufficient fuel in the lines to build the required pressure which results in this DTC code. Clearing the DTC and adding a new tank of fuel will fix this instantly.
  • Check for fuel leaks. Obvious fuel leaks, where you can see dripping or can smell crude fuel as that will not permit pressure to build properly which will lead to a low-pressure condition. Repair as needed.
  • Check the fuel lines for crimps, which would obstruct fuel flow and prevent pressurization. Some plastic fuel lines are particularly prone to crimping and breakdown, impeding fuel flow from the low-pressure pump to the high-pressure pump.
  • Check the fuel filter for any contamination, especially on high-mileage vehicles, which can likewise obstruct fuel flow.
  • Check the fuel tank for damage. External fuel tank damage could affect the fuel propeller inside the tank, leading to poor fuel intake by the low-pressure fuel pump.

Beyond the scenarios mentioned above, you may not be able to carry out any further diagnosis, as the high-pressure fuel system requires some special additional tools and procedures.

Common Mistakes

  • Skipping a step and not appropriately finishing a certain test leads to wrong conclusions which affect the final repairs.
  • Although, it’s a clogged fuel filter that’s the culprit most of the time, replacing it may not automatically fix the problem for different vehicles.
  • Not following all the steps, results in wastage of time as well as money on unnecessary fixes.

How Serious is This?

P0087 may result in major drivability problems if not given due attention. It might make your vehicle unreliable and in worst-case scenarios, completely useless. If your vehicle isn’t running properly or you found a problem in the engine while you’re trying to accelerate, you should get it checked at your earliest. 

In case P0087 is the underlying cause, then there is a chance that the engine can stop while driving, which makes the driver prone to a variety of hazards and accidents. A qualified automobile technician should be contacted and repairs should be done to get the vehicle safely back onto the road.

What Repairs Can Fix the Code

The most common fix for these error codes is to replace the fuel filter or screen. Other quick fixes include:

  • Replacing the fuel filter or screen
  • Replacing a faulty fuel pressure sensor
  • Removing and replacing the fuel pump
  • Replacing kinked fuel lines

Related Codes

P0088 – Fuel Rail / System Pressure - Too High

P0089 – Fuel Pressure Regulator 1 Performance

P0090 – Fuel Pressure Regulator 1 Control Circuit

P0091 – Fuel Pressure Regulator 1 Control Circuit Low

P0092 – Fuel Pressure Regulator 1 Control Circuit High

P0093 – Fuel  System Leak Detected – Large Leak

P0094 – Fuel System Leak Detected – Small Leak

P1229 – Sensor Power Supply Circuit Shorted

P1272 – Air Fuel Ratio Sensor 1 Bank 1 Circuit No Activity Detected

Conclusion

The OBD-II scanner error code P0087 is a very serious problem as it can lead to variety of drivability problems. If the engine is misfiring or running poorly, then it must be diagnosed as soon as possible to ensure safe driving and to reduce the risk of further damage.