P0276 code definition
The P0360 code is defined as an ignition coil I primary/secondary circuit malfunction.
What the P0276 code means
When the P0360 code is stored, it means that the vehicle’s PCM (Powertrain Control Module) detected a problem with the primary or secondary circuit with at least one of the ignition coils.
Almost all modern vehicles that have a PCM were manufactured with a COP (Coil on Plug) system. Essentially, instead of using a spark plug, an ignition coil is attached to the engine in such a way that a small spark plug wire or plug boot can be used to start the engine. Each of the vehicle’s ignition coils is controlled electronically by the PCM, but this also means that the module can monitor each coil’s performance too.
It’s this connection that the P0276 code pertains to, though, sometimes, it’s just the coils themselves that have triggered it. Designs typically present a switched supply of voltage from the battery to the ignition coil. The PCM supplies a pulsing ground to activate ignition spark and also manage ignition timing. There is an acceptable range for the ignition coil circuit voltage. Anything that differs by 10% from this margin will force the PCM to store the code.
What causes the P0276 code?
There are three common reasons that could cause the unacceptable ignition coil circuit voltage. They are:
- A faulty ignition coil
- A faulty connector for the ignition coil
- A corroded connector for the ignition coil
- The ignition coil driver circuit has a shorted or open wire from the PCM
In very rare cases, the PCM may actually be faulty and falsely reporting the P0276 code.
What are the symptoms of the P0276 code?
Usually, when this code is stored, the Check Engine Light comes on. An engine that struggles with acceleration is also a fairly common symptom. The vehicle may also misfire when sitting idle. Other engine problems that could result because of a P0276 problem would include poor fuel economy or a fuel injector that gets turned off by the PCM to prevent further damage. Other codes related to misfires are typically stored along with P0276 too.
How does a mechanic diagnose the P0276 code?
A mechanic will use an OBD-II scanner to find out which codes have been stored by the PCM. They will then move onto inspecting the ignition coils, their wiring and the connectors. Once necessary repairs, replacements and/or cleaning are done, they will clear the codes and restart the vehicle.
Common mistakes when diagnosing the P0276 code
When a customer brings in a vehicle that sports some or all of the aforementioned systems, many mechanics begin on a maintenance tune-up right away. Although it may help in a lot of ways, this method isn’t going to clear the P0276 code or fix its underlying causes.
This is why a thorough diagnosis is necessary. Another common problem is a mechanic who catches one of the issues we mentioned earlier, fixes it, but doesn’t think to look for other related problems.
How serious is the P0276 code?
The good news is that this code doesn’t represent a problem that is going to get anyone hurt. That being said, the vehicle is probably going to be a bit of a challenge to drive (at best) until the problem is fixed.
What repairs can fix the P0276 code?
Common repairs to clear the P0276 code include:
- Replacing or repairing a malfunctioning ignition coil
- Changing out the wiring that runs between the PCM and the ignition coil driver if it’s been damaged
- Cleaning the ignition coil’s connector or replacing it
Additional comments for consideration regarding the P0276 code
There’s a chance that wildlife may be responsible for this problem. If the owner lives in a cold environment, critters may crawl under the hood after the vehicle is parked to stay warm. Unfortunately, they also chew on wiring, so going forward, the automobile should be parked elsewhere.
Need help with a P0276 code?
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