Error P0161 – how to fix?

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Error code definition P0161

Trouble code P0161 identifies a problem with the heater control circuit in the bank 2 oxygen sensor.

What does the code P0161 mean

This code means that the bank 2 oxygen sensor is not warming up properly due to a problem in the oxygen sensor heater circuit. Due to this problem, vehicle emissions may increase.

What causes the P0161 code?

Fault code P0161 is caused by an incorrect resistance value in the glow plug circuit. The powertrain control module continuously monitors the resistance of the circuit. When the resistance is out of specification, this fault code is set.

What are the symptoms of the P0161 code?

The only symptom of this code is that the vehicle’s exhaust emissions may increase due to the oxygen sensor which takes longer to reach operating temperature. This increase in emissions is what causes the Check Engine light to come on so that the vehicle can be repaired as soon as possible.

How can a mechanic diagnose the P0161 code?

  • The first step in diagnosing fault code P0161 is to visually inspect the oxygen sensor wiring at bank 2.
  • In many cases, this code may be set due to damaged wiring due to incorrect guidance or road hazards.
  • If no problems are found during the visual inspection, the next step is to use a multimeter to measure the resistance of the heater circuit at the oxygen sensor itself. Refer to your vehicle’s service manual for resistance specifications for a good sensor.
  • If the sensor resistance is out of specification, the sensor is defective and should be replaced.
  • If the sensor is ok, then we should check the resistance of the rest of the circuit from the powertrain control module to the oxygen sensor connector on bank 2. Normal wiring reading is less than half ohm.
  • If the rest of the wiring is fine, then the likely culprit is the powertrain control module itself.

The most common errors when diagnosing the P0161 code

The most common mistake is the lack of diagnosis and the replacement of the oxygen sensor in bank 2. In most cases, the sensor is the problem. In some cases, however, there may be a problem with a damaged wiring harness.

How serious is the P0161 code?

Fault code P0161 is not the most serious of the fault codes. There are no driving problems associated with this fault code. The only problem is that having this fault code stored in the powertrain control module will result in it failing the emissions test in most areas.

What repairs can fix the P0161 code?

  1. Bank oxygen sensor replacement 2
  2. Repair the wiring in the heater circuit

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