P0081 OBD-II Trouble Code: Intake Valve Control Solenoid Circuit (Bank 2)

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P0081 is a diagnostic trouble code (DTC) for "Intake Valve Control Solenoid Circuit (Bank 2)". This can happen for multiple reasons and a mechanic needs to diagnose the specific cause for this code to be triggered in your situation. Our certified mobile mechanics can come to your home or office to perform the Check Engine Light diagnostic. Once we are able to diagnose the problem, you will be provided with an upfront quote for the recommended fix and receive $20.00 off as a credit towards the repair. All our repairs are backed by our 12-month / 12,000-mile warranty.

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P0081 trouble code definition

P0081 indicates a generic issue with the intake valve control circuit bank 2. It may be seen with P0082. The vehicle may have a bank 1 and a bank 2 intake solenoid.

What the P0081 code means

P0081 is referencing a OBD2 code that is set when an issue is detected with the Intake valve control solenoid bank 2. The engine control module (ECM) has tried to control the variable valve timing for the engine and found a fault in the bank 2 intake control solenoid which is causing a failsafe mode and Check Engine Light to be illuminated. This also causes the variable valve timing to be disabled.

What causes the P0081 code?

  • Failed bank 2 intake valve control solenoid
  • Engine control module failed
  • Shorted or open wiring harness
  • Poor electrical connection

What are the symptoms of the P0081 code?

  • The first symptom typically noticed is the ECM detects a fault with the intake valve control solenoid and sets the Check Engine Light to be seen on the dashboard.

  • In addition to the Check Engine Light the ECM triggers a failsafe mode which disables the variable valve timing.

  • Without the variable valve timing poor fuel economy and worse than normal acceleration may be felt.

How does a mechanic diagnose the P0081 code?

  • Any mechanic that is qualified and has experience should have little difficulty diagnosing P0081. A OBD2 scan tool will be installed into the vehicle’s DLC port and checked for any codes present. There may be more than one code present, the freeze frame data for all codes will be noted.

  • Then the code will be cleared and taken on a road test. The road test should be done at similar circumstances to the freeze frame data such as engine load, RPMs, speed, and operating temp.

  • If the check engine light is illuminated on the road test diagnostics will proceed to a visual inspection of the wiring harness and connectors in the intake valve control solenoid circuit bank 2.

  • Next, the scan tool will be used to observe solenoid operation with the live sensor data. This will track changes over time and show solenoid voltage, resistance and let us know if the solenoid is operating properly.

  • If the solenoid tests okay then the ECM must be checked for any issues. Each vehicle and manufacturer has its own distinct testing procedures and those should be followed.

Common mistakes when diagnosing the P0081 code

P0081 can be a easy to diagnose code for a qualified mechanic, or it can be a intermittent occurrence that becomes extremely difficult to track down. It is imperative that each step is followed in the proper order without skipping steps.

Though solenoid failure is the most common cause it must be tested before it is replaced for proper repairs.

How serious is the P0081 code?

  • P0081 should allow the vehicle to be driven to a safe location without issue once the Check Engine Light is illuminated.

  • Any code that triggers a failsafe such as P0081 should be repaired as soon as possible to avoid long term issues and ensure safe vehicle operation

  • With the vehicle’s acceleration suffering and fuel economy worsening due the vehicle may not drive like it normally does until repairs are performed.

What repairs can fix the P0081 code?

Additional comments for consideration regarding the P0081 code

An advanced professional level scan tool is needed to properly diagnose P0081. This is due to the fact that cheaper scan tools will just list the code without showing freeze frame data and do not allow the live data that is needed to monitor solenoid operation.

Vehicles equipped with a V6 and V8 and any other engines may have a bank 1 and a bank 2 sides to the engine. Bank 2 is typically found on the passenger side on the engine block. The solenoid should be located near the intake side on the engine head.

Variable valve timing is an important feature on modern engines. This system uses the ECM to control the intake and exhaust valve solenoids to change valve timing. This change to timing can improve felt acceleration and is the reason for better fuel economy in modern engines.

Need help with a P0081 code?

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Toyota Echo - Check Engine Light is on - Beaverton, Oregon
Andrew arrived early, and got right to work. He knew the likely problem from my 10 second description, checked the vehicle diagnostics, and verified the diagnostics by swapping some parts and doing a quick test drive. He even showed me the OBD2 scanner output. The vehicle has over 151k miles, and Androw could easily have tried to upsell me on replacing all of the ignition coils, rather than just the faulty one, purely based on the vehicle's age -- but he didn't. He just replaced the one necessary, topped up fluids, mentioned it was time for an oil change and new tires in the back, and that was it. Everything was fixed inside of an hour, while working in the rain.


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