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P0615 OBD-II Trouble Code: Starter Relay Circuit

Check Engine Light

P0615 code definition

The PCM (powertrain control module) will store a P0615 code when it detects a voltage reading from the starter relay circuit that is out of range of the acceptable manufacturer settings.

What the P0615 code means

This code indicates that the starter relay (also called the PNP relay or park/neutral relay) is in the “On” position when the vehicle is not in park or neutral. When the vehicle is in gear, the starter relay should be in the “Off” position, which prevents the vehicle from starting when it’s in gear. If it’s in the “On” position when the vehicle is not in park or neutral, the code will set, and the Check Engine light will turn on.

What causes the P0615 code?

When the P0615 code is stored, the most common causes are:

  • A defective ignition switch
  • A bad starter relay
  • A shorted or open starter relay circuit
  • A blown fuse
  • Defective or damaged battery cable(s)
  • A faulty starter motor or solenoid
  • A defective PCM (rare)

What are the symptoms of the P0615 code?

In most cases, there will be no noticeable symptoms affecting the vehicle’s drivability or performance. Sometimes, this code may allow the vehicle to start when it’s not in park or neutral, or a no-start or no-crank condition may occur, which won’t allow the vehicle to start at all.

How does a mechanic diagnose the P0615 code?

Diagnosis starts by using an OBD-II scanner to identify the P0615 code. After the code is identified, the mechanic will visually inspect the battery cables, the starter relay circuit, and all components, wiring, and connectors associated with it. They will then address any issues with these in a methodical order, and with each step they will clear the code and retest the system to see if the problem has been resolved or not. After going through all diagnostic measures, once they believe that they have solved the problem, they will test the system one last time to see if there is an intermittent issue that may be causing the code to be stored only under certain conditions.

Common mistakes when diagnosing the P0615 code

When faced with this problem, many people automatically assume that there’s a problem with the starter motor and that it needs to be replaced. This is an expensive mistake that will not actually solve the problem. In newer vehicles, this issue is much more often caused by the starter motor’s voltage supply, not the starter motor itself.

How serious is the P0615 code?

Depending on the symptoms that accompany it, the P0615 code may be a fairly benign one, or it may be more serious. In some cases, you won’t notice any difference in the drivability of your vehicle, but a no-start condition could be tripped at any time if the code has not been resolved. Furthermore, other issues may arise from this code, so it’s very important to resolve it as soon as possible.

What repairs can fix the P0615 code?

Depending on what’s causing the PCM to detect and store the P0615 code, a number of repairs can be done to resolve it, including:

  • Replacing a blown fuse
  • Replacing bad battery cables
  • Replacing or repairing a bad starter relay
  • Replacing the ignition switch
  • Repairing or replacing faulty wiring or connectors
  • Replacing the starter motor or solenoid (rare)
  • Replacing or reprogramming the PCM (rare)

Additional comments for consideration regarding the P0615 code

Even if the vehicle seems to drive perfectly, it’s important to address the P0615 code before it renders your vehicle inoperable, or causes other problems. Likewise, if you need to get an OBD-II emissions test to renew your vehicle’s registration, you’ll have to address this issue so that the Check Engine light turns off before your vehicle can pass.

Need help with a P0615 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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