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Old 09-14-2019, 09:30 PM   #1
Kscha41
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Default Another p0401 thread

Hello everyone, I'm new here looking for help on a 2000 Saturn sl sohc with about 110,000 miles on it. The car recently threw a p0401 code which then brought me here looking for help. So far I have replaced the egr valve twice with no change. Then I read it is common for these to carbon up the egr ports so I removed the egr and started the car to hope to remove the carbon. Not much came out and shorty the code returned. After that I removed the intake manifold figuring there was a clog that would require more cleaning. But that was clean along with the port leading to the exhaust manifold. After that that lead me to replace the upper oxygen sensor and you guessed it, same code. Running out of ideas I came back here and read that a bad tps or iac valve can cause my code. Well I replaced both of those and I still have the same code. It will normally pop up within 30 miles of driving. I would appreciate any help with fixing this Saturn. Thanks.

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Old 09-14-2019, 11:22 PM   #2
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Default Re: Another p0401 thread

There are at least two issues related to P0401; the egr valve replacements not meeting oem specs and of the intake manifold intake and exhaust ports connecting the egr valve are blocked with carbon buildup and interfering with egr valve operation.

The choice of oem or aftermarket egr valves seems to be divided into two camps. Either use original egr valves or good used ones with aftermarket valves not meeting specs and continuing with the same error code or the intake and or exhaust port underneath the egr valve is partially blocked.

The easiest way to test for intake/exhaust blockage; remove the egr valve and startup. A clean intake port will let the engine rev immediately until hitting the electronic rev limiter and stay at the rev limit. This should occur as soon as the engine starts up without delay. If the engine doesn't rev up immediately, the intake port under the egr valve is blocked. The exhaust port should blow exhaust freely.

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Old 09-15-2019, 09:56 AM   #3
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Default Re: Another p0401 thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by fdryer View Post
There are at least two issues related to P0401; the egr valve replacements not meeting oem specs and of the intake manifold intake and exhaust ports connecting the egr valve are blocked with carbon buildup and interfering with egr valve operation.

The choice of oem or aftermarket egr valves seems to be divided into two camps. Either use original egr valves or good used ones with aftermarket valves not meeting specs and continuing with the same error code or the intake and or exhaust port underneath the egr valve is partially blocked.

The easiest way to test for intake/exhaust blockage; remove the egr valve and startup. A clean intake port will let the engine rev immediately until hitting the electronic rev limiter and stay at the rev limit. This should occur as soon as the engine starts up without delay. If the engine doesn't rev up immediately, the intake port under the egr valve is blocked. The exhaust port should blow exhaust freely.
Thanks for your response. The egr I bought was I believe a Delphi and I exchanged it out for another new Delphi thinking maybe the first one was defective. As for the ports I did do the start up test without the egr connected and it immediately hit the rev limiter and when I pulled the intake manifold off the ports where clean.

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Old 09-15-2019, 12:57 PM   #4
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Default Re: Another p0401 thread

Starting up and hitting the rev limiter wasn't mentioned in the opening post. With your reply verifying the engine revved up immediately to indicate an unblocked intake port for the egr valve, is the exhaust port feeding the egr valve unblocked?

Search threads about P0401 and how it was addressed. Below is a service manual copy of P0401.
Attached Files
File Type: pdf Service Information(1).pdf (105.0 KB, 6 views)

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Old 09-15-2019, 01:50 PM   #5
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Default Re: Another p0401 thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by fdryer View Post
Starting up and hitting the rev limiter wasn't mentioned in the opening post. With your reply verifying the engine revved up immediately to indicate an unblocked intake port for the egr valve, is the exhaust port feeding the egr valve unblocked?

Search threads about P0401 and how it was addressed. Below is a service manual copy of P0401.
Thanks again for your help. The exhaust ports are also clear and I fished a wire threw there to check and even blew air threw it and you could hear and feel it come out of the exhaust pipe. Before I joined this forum I've been searching the older threads about the p0401 problem people have and that's where i came up with all the common sensors and sort that cause this code. According to the service manual of p0401 you have provided it looks like I need to test for voltage at the map sensor for it to be between 1 to 1.5 volts. I dont have the best skills for testing electrical in cars.

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Old 09-17-2019, 06:05 PM   #6
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Default Re: Another p0401 thread

One way to avoid weaknesses in auto skills might be going thru the easy steps given to eliminate their possibility of being the problem and saving the difficult task(s) for last. There's always the possibility of finding and correcting the problem (or not). If push comes to shove, reviewing some YouTube videos of using a multimeter may help or if you have a friend with good auto electric skills familiar with multimeter use, you may learn from show and tell.

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Old 09-18-2019, 06:24 PM   #7
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Default Re: Another p0401 thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by fdryer View Post
One way to avoid weaknesses in auto skills might be going thru the easy steps given to eliminate their possibility of being the problem and saving the difficult task(s) for last. There's always the possibility of finding and correcting the problem (or not). If push comes to shove, reviewing some YouTube videos of using a multimeter may help or if you have a friend with good auto electric skills familiar with multimeter use, you may learn from show and tell.
Ok thanks again for your help. Today I used my meter and looked for voltage at the map sensor. Its says you want 1 to 1.5 volts and I measure 2.2 to 2.6 volts.

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Old 09-18-2019, 11:18 PM   #8
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Default Re: Another p0401 thread

I'm not certain if your map sensor is operating correctly and possibly contributing to the egr error code. Here's a link to an excellent source of info of EFI sensors;https://www.aa1car.com/. Searching for map sensor info; https://www.aa1car.com/library/map_sensors.htm. Specifically; Analog MAP sensors have a three-wire connector: ground, a 5-volt reference signal from the computer and the return signal. The output voltage usually increases when the throttle is opened and vacuum drops. A MAP sensor that reads 1 or 2 volts at idle may read 4.5 volts to 5 volts at wide open throttle. Output generally changes about 0.7 to 1.0 volts for every 5 inches Hg of change in vacuum. This presumes idle rpm is below 1k rpm. Idle should be around 650-800 rpm - vacuum measured at idle would be between 15-18 in hg. If you examine the map sensor charts, you'll see values corresponding to map sensor voltage output, idle rpm and vacuum. Removing the map sensor and examining it may reveal carbon from exhaust stuck in the sensor hole.

A simple way to verify map sensor operation would be measuring voltage with ignition on, engine off. Output should be close to 5v. Applying suction should vary output voltage to as low as 0.3v.

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Old 09-19-2019, 07:12 AM   #9
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Default Re: Another p0401 thread

Thanks for all the helpful information. Looks like I got more testing to do. I dont know if I tested for power correctly as I disconnected the harness from the sensor and tested for power at the harness. Sounds like I need to leave it connected and somehow test for power in the wires by the sensor. When I was getting 2.2 to 2.6 volts that was with the sensor disconnected and it was idling around 900.

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Old 09-19-2019, 04:49 PM   #10
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Default Re: Another p0401 thread

Ok I figured out how to test for voltage with the connector hooked up to the sensor. With the key on engine off I'm getting 4.7 volts. Now with the key on engine on I'm still getting 4.7 volts. The ect temp is 190 and the rpms were 763 and the map (inhg) is reading 9.7 to 10. Now I put the old sensor in and I get the same reading. Also when I was swapping the new sensor with the old sensor I made sure the hole in the manifold was clear.

Last edited by Kscha41; 09-19-2019 at 04:55 PM..

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Old 09-19-2019, 08:23 PM   #11
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Default Re: Another p0401 thread

There's some confusing info that muddies troubleshooting. Based in known info like idle rpm within a narrow band and what's expected in map sensors, the following should be observed.

Using your idle rpm value of 763 rpm, well within accepted idle rpm values, vacuum observed from a manifold pressure gauge (analog style) should be between 14-20 in hg. A total vacuum would be 29.99 in hg so idle rpm is restricting airflow into the intake manifold with well known vacuum values derived from older vacuum gauges. Fast forward to EFI systems using electrical map sensors still monitoring vacuum but changing analog values into electrical signals, the same equivalent vacuum values, in hg, are converted to voltages between 0.1-4.9vdc. Your reader displaying 9.7-10 in hg translates, in my opinion, to higher than normal idle rpm with a different voltage than your observed values. I don't have map sensor pinout info at the ,pment and presume you're reading from a three pin sensor. Which two pins I can only guess and presume the varying voltage measurement is on the correct pins.

The easiest way to measure and verify map sensor output signals is using known characteristics; manifold absolute pressure sensors are basically electronic barometric pressure sensors, translating analog pressures to electrical signals. If you are familiar with barometers, they're based on sea level measurement with seal level atmospheric pressure accepted as 14.7 psi. Gauges are preset to zero(0) and measure pressure above and below sea level. When a vacuum is created, pressures are measured against sea level/14.7 psi wither vacuum reducing gauge readings to a lower value. In vacuum measurement, 14.7 is zero with a vacuum gauge starting at 0 gauge pressure. As vacuum is increased, the gauge needle goes counterclockwise with negative values to represent vacuum. Vacuum is measured in inches of mercury so values increase negatively.

With engine off, ignition ON to allow all sensors to operate, the analog vacuum gauge would register zero(0) with a reader displaying the electronic map sensor as zero(0). This is the baseline data. If you use the chart published in the aa1car.com page, 0 in hg is wide open throttle or engine off condition with voltage at 4.9 volts. Ignition ON, engine OFF, map sensor output should be close to 5v. Engine idling, a vacuum is generated as the throttle is nearly closed physically but the bypass air port is allowing supplemental air thru a passage controlled by the pcm to operate the idle air control valve. The iacv allows some more air for pcm precise idle speed adjustments. The map sensor is mounted in the intake manifold, measuring vacuum all the time the engine's running. All normally aspirated (non turbo/supercharger) engines are generating vacuum. At idle, vacuum, analog wise, is between 14-20 in hg. As throttle is opened, less air restriction allows vacuum to drop or more air is allowed in so vacuum values drop, going towards zero but never zero as vacuum is still generated as wide open throttle pulls in air. The electronic map sensor, at idle should be outputting somewhere between 14-20 in hg with corresponding electrical signals between 2-3 volts. The output voltages matches vacuum values. The two values, inches of mercury and voltages should never be at odds with each other.

With ignition ON, engine OFF, measuring map sensor output should be close to 5v. When a vacuum is created in the port, like attaching a small rubber, pvc or surgical hose, and sucking on the other end with your mouth, enough vacuum is generated to see signal voltages change to lower than 5v. If a consistent vacuum is generated without a leak, vacuum may approach a near perfect vacuum of 29.99 in hg or lowest voltage (0.3v). Observing signal output varying in direct proportion to vacuum is the simplest way to check on map sensor operation.

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Old 09-19-2019, 08:38 PM   #12
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Default Re: Another p0401 thread

Thanks again for the great info. As for the three pins, I'm using the outer pins which I think are labeled a and c. If I use another pin figuration I get no reading and if I mix it up again it will stall the car. So a and c get me my reading. So from what I read I need to hook a hose to the bottom of the sensor and apply a vacuum source and see if my reading change. Is that correct?

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Old 09-19-2019, 11:29 PM   #13
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Default Re: Another p0401 thread

Yes and unless I'm mistaken, artificially creating a vacuum while the map sensor is powered should output varying voltages as vacuum is applied; more vacuum/lower voltage, less vacuum/higher voltage.

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Old 09-22-2019, 09:11 PM   #14
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Default Re: Another p0401 thread

Ok, sorry I haven't gotten back to this yet. I was hoping I would have time this weekend but other things came up. Hopefully in the next couple of days I will be able to test this sensor.

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Old 09-30-2019, 04:17 PM   #15
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Default Re: Another p0401 thread

Ok sorry for the long delay. Today with the key on engine off I get 4.97 volts at the sensor and 28.9 inhg and when I apply a vacuum source to the sensor the voltage stayed the same but the inhg went down to 27.2.

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Old 09-30-2019, 04:35 PM   #16
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Default Re: Another p0401 thread

Another thing I just noticed is that it doesnt matter if the engine is cold and rpms around 950 or if the engine is fully warmed up and rpms being around normal, the voltage and map inhg reads the same.

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Old 10-01-2019, 01:09 AM   #17
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Default Re: Another p0401 thread

You may not be aware of two linear values relative to voltage and ecm interpolation of map sensor conversion to in hg values. While voltage range for map sensor is roughly between 0.1v-4.9v, this range has a coarse range of 40 points (one tenth volt steps) or fine range of 400 points (hundredths of a volt). In barometric measurement, the range is between 0 to -29.6 in hg. This would have 296 points. If you compare the voltage range to baro range, you may see how difficult it can be to compare voltage signals to in hg unless you're measuring in hundredths of a volt. If a line graph were created with the two values placed side by side using an equal length for each range, you can see a visual comparison as voltage varies, depending on whether you view tenths or hundredths of a volt. This topic isn't discussed at all and technical by nature involving two linear comparisons of two values.

As long as 0 in hg is seen at ignition on, engine off then a vacuum is created with a value relative to applied vacuum, you're verifying map sensor operation. To be accurate, an applied vacuum from a hand help vacuum pump with a gauge displaying vacuum can be compared to ecm interpolation of the map sensor. This setup would require connecting the hand held vacuum pump and gauge to the map sensor as gauge and reader displays vacuum values.

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Old 10-01-2019, 09:06 AM   #18
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Default Re: Another p0401 thread

Thanks again for the great response. I will have to dig out my hand held vacuum pump with gauge and will have to test it again and see what I come up with.

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Old 10-14-2019, 06:09 PM   #19
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Default Re: Another p0401 thread

Ok, I dug out my vacuum pump/gauge today and started testing. Key on engine off I was getting 28.9 map inhg and 4.96 volts. One thing I thought was weird was that it says the engine rpm is 36 even though it was not running. But I caught onto something that might be a problem. As I was moving the sensor around testing for voltage and hooking up my pump, the map inhg would randomly drop to 3 and then back to 28.9. I tried to jiggle the wiring harness and the connector and I couldn't reduplicate it dropping to 3 other than it randomly doing it. Now when I hooked up my pump to the sensor I pumped it to 19 inhg and the car was saying 10 map inhg. The voltage stayed the same at 4.96. And just like earlier it would randomly drop to 3 then back to 10 with the pump on it.

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Old 10-16-2019, 11:31 AM   #20
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Default Re: Another p0401 thread

The discrepancy in readouts may be indicating either a wiring or flaky sensor. Ruling out a dry rotted vacuum hose, the erratic sensor output may be the issue affecting overall EFI functions since barometric pressure is continually measured wrth engine running to help select which portion of the fuel map is appropriate for specific engine loads. The EFI system is dynamic and varying as load, temperatures and other factors are sensed by sensors feeding data to the pcm. Basic static testing is about the best anyone can do short of having an oscilloscope to view live signals on an engine while changing rpm to view signal changes.

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