P0361 code definition
The P0361 trouble code is defined as Ignition Coil K Primary/Secondary Circuit Malfunction.
What the P0361 code means
Almost all modern engines rely on a COP (coil on plug) ignition system. This means that each cylinder has its own coil. The PCM (Powertrain Control Module) has control over these coils. By having this coil right over the spark plug, there is no need for spark plug wires in these engines.
Two wires are assigned to each coil. One of these wires is a battery feed and is typically from the power distribution center. The second wire is the coil driver circuit and comes from the PCM. To activate or deactivate the coil, the PCM simply has to ground or unground this circuit. The PCM also monitors this setup to check for any errors. If it detects an open or short in the driver circuit for the #11 coil, the P0361 code will be stored.
What causes the P0361 code?
There are a handful of common problems that may trigger this code:
- The COP driver circuit is open, grounded or shorted
- The connection at the coil is loose
- The connector locks or is broken
- The COP coil is faulty
There is always the off chance that the PCM is faulty too, but this should be the last possibility a mechanic looks into.
What are the symptoms of the P0361 code?
At the very least, when a vehicle’s PCM stores the P0361 code, the Check Engine light should come on. Otherwise, the engine may misfire or experience intermittent performance levels (e.g. acceleration may be choppy).
On some vehicles, the OBD-II may even disable the affected cylinder’s fuel injector to avoid further problems.
How does a mechanic diagnose the P0361 code?
This code is diagnosed by a mechanic with an OBD-II scanner. A qualified professional should also note any related codes that may have been stored too. After resetting the OBD-II fault codes, the mechanic will want to take the vehicle on a road test (if possible) and watch the sensor’s live data while driving.
Once the drive is over, they should also run a scan to see if the P0361 code comes back. If it does, the mechanic will then need to check for any electrical wiring, connector or sensor issues.
The technician will most likely need to use a Voltmeter in AC hertz scale to see if the #11 coil produces an Hz reading between 5 and 20.
Common mistakes when diagnosing the P0361 code
A lot of technicians misdiagnose the problem and assume that a tune-up will be enough to get the vehicle back up and running. While a tune-up may be long overdue, a thorough diagnosis should be performed first to make sure the true reason behind the problem is understood.
How serious is the P0361 code?
Any problem that causes the engine to underperform should be looked into right away before it turns into a bigger issue. While it’s not necessarily dangerous, it will most likely make driving difficult.
What repairs can fix the P0361 code?
Depending on the nature of the problem, a qualified technician will have to do one of two things. The first thing would be to simply replacing the #11 ignition coil if they picked up a Hertz signal.
If that wasn’t the underlying problem, then most likely, the mechanic will need to examine the wiring and replace or repair any that have become frayed or are otherwise damaged.
Finally, though rare, there could be an issue with the PCM. Again, its wiring is most likely responsible for a bad reading if nothing else is.
Additional comments for consideration regarding the P0361 code
It’s worth noting that wildlife is often responsible for some of the problems with the wiring that we mentioned being responsible for triggering this code. Once the vehicle is repaired, the owner should find another place to park on cold day as critters are most likely attracted to the engine’s heat.
Need help with a P0361 code?
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