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P0180 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

P0180 is an OBD-II Code that refers to the Fuel Temperature Sensor A Circuit Malfunction

Meaning

A P0180 code is the result of the ECM (Engine Control Module) receiving a signal from the fuel temperature sensor. There's a circuit within this sensor. So, when the signal is abnormal (fuel rail is too hot or too cold), it sends this code to the ECM.

Causes

Common causes for this code include:

  • The temperature sensor inside your engine's fuel tank or fuel rail could be out of range, or the connection may have become corroded.
  • The fuel might be too hot or too cold.
  • In diesel engines, if the fuel in your truck's tank is too cold, the ECM will set the P0180 code when you activate the fuel heater.

Symptoms

The symptoms of a P0180 code are:

  • The Check Engine Light will come on indicating a problem with the system.
  • Excess chemicals in the fuel can cause erratic sensor readings and cause the fuel to boil off at lower temperatures and make the sensor malfunction.
  • If the fuel is frozen due to harsh weather or if there is water in the tank, the car will not start.
  • If the fuel becomes excessively hot and boils off, the vehicle will not start or may lose power and stall.

Diagnosis

To diagnose a P0180 DTC code, a technician would:

1. Scan the code, this will in turn store the freeze frame data. Clear the code and verify to see if it returns.

2. Examine each wire and connection to the sensor for breaks or loose connections.

3. Disconnect the sensor's connection and compare it to standards to ensure that the sensor is functioning properly.

4. Take a sample of fuel to check against the sensor reading.

5. Check the diesel fuel heater is working properly and not causing the fuel to overheat.

Common mistakes

The following are common mistakes when diagnosing the trouble code P0180:

  • Assuming the fuel tank is too hot or too cold without verifying it.
  • Assuming that one can fix an intermittent problem by replacing parts.
  • Not checking the sensor voltage against standards before claiming a faulty sensor.
  • Avoiding corrective action to solve recurring problems upfront so as not to miss something later on down the road.

How serious is this?

A P0180 code can lead to poor performance or stalling.

People in cold climates who don't keep their diesel tanks topped off run the risk of freezing the fuel and causing damage. Frequently, these people will accidentally start engines with frozen fuel because they think that it's just water condensation when in fact it's not. This can lead to engine failure if done too often.

What repairs can fix the code?

The following are solutions that may fix this problem:

  • Scan with a professional tool. Confirm if the code remains.
  • Replace the fuel sensor.
  • Check the fuel tank and fill it if necessary. Check for freezing in extremely cold weather.
  • Readings from a scope or test light can help you identify any breaks in the wiring connectors to the sensor when you disconnect them. If there is a break, repair it and recheck after making repairs.
  • Clean and tighten all electrical connections at the fuel tank and in the line running from the fuel tank to the connector on top of ECM (Engine Control Module). 
  • Replacing the diesel fuel heater assembly along with the temperature sensor

Related codes

A P0180 is related to and may be accompanied by the following codes:

P0181, P0201, P0202, P0203, P0204, P1383

How much does it cost to fix the P0180 code?

The repair cost of a P0180 code varies depending on the type of problem. Repair cost for this trouble code may include:

The replacement of the sensor, box, or harness - $80-$200

Labor time to diagnose and repair can be 2 to 8 hours. This might not include labor or replacement parts.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the P0180 code is a trouble code that can be caused by several factors such as:

  • The vehicle's age and mileage - Usually, sensors last anywhere from 30,000 to 200,000 miles under normal conditions.
  • The type of engine and its condition. Some diesel engines have high heat factors which may cause the fuel sensor to malfunction if it has not been maintained well.
  • Fuel contamination – Diesel fuels often contain water and if your tank runs dry you risk contaminating your system with water condensation when you refill it. This could lead to a faulty reading or no reading at all on the part of the fuel tank sending unit (sending unit is what reads how much fuel there is in the tank).
  • Frozen fuel – In colder climates, diesel tanks can freeze if not kept topped off. Fuel line freezing is also a common reason for faulty readings.
  • Poor electrical connections – All electrical connections must be clean and tight to create the proper circuit signal from the sending unit to the main ECU (Engine Control Unit).

Take preventative measures to avoid this problem in the future by keeping your fuel tank full at all times, checking for poor wiring connections, and cleaning up any water condensation inside your fuel lines. Finally, stay on top of maintenance! Don't wait until your check engine light comes on to have your system inspected or serviced. You'll get better service if you are proactive about getting routine inspections done rather than waiting for something to go wrong.

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