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P0636 OBD-II Trouble Code: Power Steering Control Circuit Low

Check Engine Light

P0636 code definition

The P0636 trouble code detects an electrical error with the power steering control circuit.

What the P0636 code means

The P0636 code is a generic OBD-II trouble code that signals an issue with the power steering control circuit. The power steering system, which helps make steering easier for drivers, constantly sends data to the powertrain control module (PCM), and other control modules such as the antilock brake control module, traction control module, and fuel injection control module. When any of these control modules detects a power steering control circuit issue, which usually comes from an abnormally low voltage reading, the P0636 code will be detected.

What causes the P0636 code?

Possible causes for the P0636 trouble code include:

  • Faulty power steering pressure or position sensor
  • Damaged electrical components in the controller area network (CAN) bus
  • Loose or damaged control module ground wire or ground strap
  • In rare cases, a faulty CAN bus

What are the symptoms of the P0636 code?

The P0636 trouble code will often be accompanied by the Check Engine Light, though the vehicle may need to detect the issue multiple times before the light appears. The power steering system will likely be disabled, making steering heavier and more difficult.

How does a mechanic diagnose the P0636 code?

The P0636 code should be diagnosed using a standard OBD-II trouble code scanner. A certified technician can use the scanner to view the freeze frame data and assess the code. The mechanic will also note the presence of any additional trouble codes, as codes should always be taken care of in the order in which they appear on the scanner. The codes will then need to be reset, and vehicle restarted, so that the mechanic can check to see if the codes remain detected. If they do not, then the vehicle likely has an intermittent issue, or had an erroneously triggered trouble code.

If the P0636 code remains detected following the restart, the mechanic should perform a visual inspection of all the electrical components in the system. All wires, connectors, and fuses will need to be examined, and replaced as necessary. The control module ground wire and ground strap should then be inspected, followed by the power steering pressure and position sensors.

If the issue still remains, then a CAN scanner can be used to diagnose the CAN bus and potentially identify the problem.

After any components are replaced, the mechanic will need to repeat the process of resetting the trouble codes, restarting the vehicle, and checking for the presence of the codes. This will help the mechanic be informed when the trouble code has gone away, and the repair is successful.

Common mistakes when diagnosing the P0636 code

The most frequently made error when diagnosing this code comes from a failure to follow the OBD-II diagnosis protocol. It is essential that technicians obey the protocol step by step to make sure that all inspections and repairs are efficient.

It is fairly common for this code to be addressed before other trouble codes that precede the P0636 code on the scanner.

How serious is the P0636 code?

A P0636 trouble code will not keep a car from being drivable, but it will likely make it more difficult, and therefore dangerous to drive. Power steering is a very important feature, so vehicles with this trouble code should be inspected and repaired as soon as possible.

What repairs can fix the P0636 code?

Some of the repairs for the P0636 code are:

Additional comments for consideration regarding the P0636 code

The P0636 code is often accompanied by other drivability trouble codes, such as transmission codes, fuel injection codes, and engine misfire codes.

Need help with a P0636 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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