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P0272 OBD-II Trouble Code: Cylinder 4 Contribution/Balance Fault

Check Engine Light

P0272 code definition

The definition of problem code P0272 is that there is a contribution/balance problem with cylinder #4.

What the P0272 code means

This code means that the PCM (Powertrain Control Module) has identified that the reference voltage in cylinder #4’s fuel injector is out of range. Basically, every make and model has an acceptable range for this voltage that is predetermined by the manufacturer. If the voltage becomes an unacceptable amount – either too high or too low – this code gets stored. Of course, the problem is much bigger than that. If a fuel injector is not getting the power it needs, that means that its corresponding cylinder isn’t being given the fuel it needs either.

This will mean a leaner mix of fuel. The PCM reacts to this by trying to create a richer mix in the rest of the engine. Although this presents a temporary solution, fuel efficiency will automatically suffer. Likewise, cylinder #4 needs to work harder because of its lean mix, which will mean the cylinder head heats up and can eventually become damaged.

Unfortunately, this is just the beginning. The longer this problem is left alone, the worse the ramifications will be.

What causes the P0272 code?

There are a few issues that could be behind P0272. Obviously, the fuel injector could be damaged. It could also just be in need of a good cleaning.

Another common reason is faulty wiring or connectors that run to cylinder #12’s fuel injector. If it isn’t being given enough power, it can’t possibly perform as it’s supposed to. It’s also possible that the PCM is mistaken, though this is extremely rare.

What are the symptoms of the P0272 code?

The Check Engine Light will probably come on too, but in some models, the problem must happen more than once before this will occur.

How does a mechanic diagnose the P0272 code?

A mechanic will diagnose this trouble code by doing some combination of the following:

  • Using an OBD-II scanner to retrieve all the codes that have been stored by the PCM
  • Inspecting the fuel injector for the #4 cylinder
  • Check the wiring and connectors for any signs of damage
  • Testing the fuel injector for the #4 cylinder (it might look fine on the outside and still underperform)

Common mistakes when diagnosing the P0272 code

One very common mistake a lot of mechanics make when diagnosing the P0272 code is simply replacing the fuel injector before doing a comprehensive review of the entire setup and/or using the OBD-II scanner to see what other issues may be relevant. Even though the fuel injector may have been broken, if other codes are stored, the next fuel injector may soon stop working correctly too.

How serious is the P0272 code?

This is a code that should be treated seriously as the engine will not work correctly until it’s addressed. At best, the engine will be unreliable and filling the gas tank will cost more. In the worst case scenario, though, the engine will actually become damaged because cylinder #4 is overworked. Repairs would be extremely expensive.

What repairs can fix the P0272 code?

If other damage to the engine has occurred because this problem was allowed to persist, repairs will be more extensive.

Additional comments for consideration regarding the P0272 code

Cleaning out the fuel system every year will keep this kind of problem from returning. If the owner lives in a colder environment and the code was logged because of damage to the wires, it could be because wildlife is attracted to the engine’s warmth and getting inside when the vehicle is parked. In the future, the owner will want to park indoors and/or away from nature.

Need help with a P0272 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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