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P0290 OBD-II Trouble Code: Cylinder 10 Contribution/Balance Fault

Check Engine Light

P0290 code definition

This is the generic trouble code for Cylinder 10 Contribution/Balance Fault.

What the P0290 code means

Your vehicle’s PCM (powertrain control module) monitors power activity from each cylinder based upon signals it interprets as voltage readings. When cylinder number 11 in the firing order sends a signal which is outside of the normal expected range according to manufacturer’s specifications, this trouble code sets. This indicates to the computer that cylinder 11 is contributing less power than the other cylinders, which typically happens when there is a fuel delivery problem.

What causes the P0290 code?

Possible reasons for this problem include:

  • A faulty fuel injector
  • A clogged fuel injector (impairing fuel spray and reducing cylinder power)
  • Damaged or loose fuel injector wiring or connectors
  • A fuel injector driver problem in the PCM
  • A faulty PCM (rare)

What are the symptoms of the P0290 code?

Due to the engine not receiving the correct amount of fuel, signs of this fault may include rough acceleration, rough idle, and/or engine misfires. You will probably also notice an illuminated Check Engine Light.

In some cases, a trouble code may need to occur through several drive cycles before the Check Engine Light will come on, even though the code is generally stored upon the first occurrence. This is why it’s important to pay close attention to any troublesome symptoms and have the issue repaired before it can cause further damage.

How does a mechanic diagnose the P0290 code?

Your technician may carry out the following steps:

  • Scanning the vehicle’s computer to capture freeze frame data and check for other existing codes
  • Clearing the trouble codes from the vehicle and road testing it to see if they recur
  • Diagnosing and repairing any concurrent trouble codes
  • Visually inspecting the cylinder 11 fuel injector wiring and connectors for damage or loose connections
  • Testing the voltage to the fuel injector with a digital volt/ohmmeter
  • Testing related fuses under load
  • Listening to the relevant fuel injector to check for a small ticking sound (indicating that it’s functioning properly)
  • Disconnecting the fuel injector to visually observe the fuel spray

Common mistakes when diagnosing the P0290 code

One common error is overlooking the need to test fuel pressure before replacing the fuel injector. Each component’s function should be investigated before assuming the repair is complete.

How serious is the P0290 code?

When fuel delivery is altered, the computer tells the engine to readjust the way it functions, often prompting other cylinders to compensate for the power shortage. Over time, this can affect the engine and other components because the vehicle is not running according to normal specifications. It’s best to have an engine problem checked out by a qualified professional as soon as possible to prevent further damage.

What repairs can fix the P0290 code?

Possible fixes include:

Additional comments for consideration regarding the P0290 code

If you suspect your fuel injector may be clogged, there are direct-injection cleaning kits available for home use. Be sure to follow the instructions carefully.

If, after all circuitry and the fuel injector have been thoroughly tested, the problem still cannot be identified, the answer may lie in a faulty PCM fuel injector driver. Diagnosing any engine problem can be a challenge, particularly without the proper tools and expertise, so it may be best to leave this job to a qualified mechanic.

Need help with a P0290 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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