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Diagnostic Trouble Code (DTC): P0461 Fuel Level Sensor Circuit Range/Performance

Check Engine Light

P0461 code definition

The P0461 code indicates that the voltage input signal at the fuel level sensor is incorrect and does not match the actual amount of fuel in the car’s gas tank.

What the P0461 code means

The P0461 code means that the car’s computer has detected a discrepancy between what the fuel gauge reads and the actual amount of fuel in the tank. Fuel level in the tank is read in voltage, usually around 5 volts. If the reference voltage reading varies from what the manufacturer has preset into the computer, it will set a code.

What causes the P0461 code?

There are several potential causes of the P0461 code, and they include the following:

*A faulty instrument cluster *Fuel tank damage interfering with the fuel level sender *Open or short in the fuel level sensor ground *Short in the signal circuit *A faulty fuel level controller (rare) *A faulty PCM (rare)

What are the symptoms of the P0461 code?

Depending on the make and model, as well as the cause of the P0461 code, you may experience one more of the following symptoms:

*Fuel gauge fluctuates *Fuel gauge goes past full or below empty *The Check Engine Light is on *The Low Fuel Warning Light might flash or remain on even with a full tank.

How does a mechanic diagnose the P0461 code?

First, the mechanic will connect an OBD-II scanner to the car’s communication port, usually located on the driver side under the dash. The codes will be read, and then cleared. The car will be test driven to verify that the codes return.

Next, the mechanic will disconnect the fuel sending unit connector and ground wire, and check that the fuel gauge moves to either full or empty with the key on. If the gauge does this, then it is not the problem, and the mechanic can move to diagnosing the rest of the system. If the gauge does not move, then the cluster will need to be replaced. The mechanic should remove the cluster and check the circuit, as well as check for corrosion or damage to the wiring for the cluster.

If the gauge moved as described, then the mechanic will check for damage to the fuel sending sensor’s wiring harness and connections. The mechanic should also check the condition of the fuel tank grounding strap and clean any corrosion that might have formed, as this can also cause the P0461 code.

Common mistakes when diagnosing the P0461 code

The most common mistake with the P0461 code is replacing the instrument cluster or the fuel level sending unit without completing a thorough diagnosis. This results in an expensive repair that does not fix the underlying problem.

How serious is the P0461 code?

While the P0461 code will not result in drivability problems, it is important to have it diagnosed and repaired as soon as possible. Without an accurate fuel reading, you have no idea how much fuel is actually in your tank. Unless you top off daily, it could be possible to run out of gas while on the road, leaving you stranded.

What repairs can fix the P0461 code?

The most common repair for the P0461 code is to replace the fuel gauge or the instrument cluster. However, other repairs may be necessary, including the following:

*Replacing or repairing a damaged wiring harness *Replacing a damaged fuel tank grounding wire or strap *Replacing a damaged fuel tank *Replacing a failed PCM (rare) or fuel level controller (rare)

Additional comments for consideration regarding the P0461 code

In some instances, the P0461 code can be caused by simple corrosion on the metal fuel tank grounding strap. Cleaning this corrosion will alleviate the problem. However, a full diagnosis must be made in order to verify that this is the only problem.

Need help with a P0461 code?

YourMechanic offers certified mobile mechanics who will come to your home or office to diagnose and repair your vehicle. Get a quote and book an appointment online or speak to a service advisor at 1-800-701-6230.

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details
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