P0116 : Engine Coolant Temperature Error Code

Manufacturers design vehicle engines to run fine at a specified temperature. They also equip several car components to ensure the engine runs at the designated temp.

The engine coolant temperature sensor measures the coolant temp and signals the powertrain control module (PCM). Then, the PCM works with the received data to adjust the readings.

If the powertrain control module detects engine coolant temperature sensor performance issues, it will throw error code P0116. Several factors can cause the engine coolant temperature performance to fall outside the manufacturer’s specified range on any car model.

We’ll examine the causes, symptoms, diagnosis mistakes, and how to track and fix the culprit. First, let’s see the meaning of P0116 engine coolant temperature circuit range performance issues.

p0116 code fix

What does error code P0116 mean?

P0116 diagnostic trouble code DTC is a generic fault code that shows the engine control module has detected the engine coolant temperature circuit1 has fallen out of the manufacturer’s specified range.

The engine coolant temperature is a thermistor that measures resistance based on temperature. The sensor is typically located on the engine block or the cylinder head. It is usually a 2-wire sensor. One of the wires is grounded, while the other connects to the car computer.

Once there’s a change in the coolant temperature, the ECT sensor changes the resistance it sends to the PCM. The car computer uses this data to determine the engine temperature. If this sensor sends false signals to the car computer, it’ll make unnecessary adjustments. This may lead to bad gas mileage and system overheating.

What is the symptom of error code P0116?

You should watch out for a few symptoms of a logged P0116 on BMW or any car model. Here are the most common signs.

Check engine light

The most common symptom of a P0116 fault code is the illumination of a check engine light on the dashboard. The car computer usually projects the engine warning light whenever it detects a malfunction in one or more engine components to notify the driver of an imminent issue within the system. And the case of a P0116 trouble code is no exception.

Kindly note that several factors can trigger this light. So, diagnose the vehicle to find the culprit whenever this warning light pops up on the instrument cluster.

Rough idling

Another sign of a P0116 on Volvo or your respective car model is rough idling. Once the car computer receives false data from the ECT sensor, it’ll make unnecessary adjustments that may cause rough idling and hesitation while driving.

Hard starting in a cold climate

The vehicle will take multiple cranks before starting in the morning or when the engine is cold. And when it finally comes up, it may not start normally. However, another clear indication is that the engine will run smoothly or close to normal when the engine heats up.

Engine overheating

Sometimes, the engine will run hot. Since the ECT sensor measures the coolant temperature, it will report to the car computer if it detects the coolant temperature falls out of the manufacturer’s specified range. The ECM will throw the P0116 on Chevy or your respective car model.

What Causes error code P0116?

Several factors can cause the car computer to throw the P0116 error code on the car memory. Here are the most common causes.

  • Frayed, damaged, burnt, open, or short ECT sensor wires
  • Low engine coolant
  • Lousy coolant thermostat
  • Poor electrical flow to the ECT sensor
  • Lousy engine coolant temperature sensor.

How serious error code P0116 is?

The P0116 code is a moderate issue you should not ignore for an extended period. This error code can trigger the engine warning light on the dash, causing you to fail emission inspection if not fixed on time.

Secondly, it can activate a failsafe mode. Once the car computer triggers this mode, some system components will be inoperable. You’ll sometimes experience rough idling, erratic running, or engine hesitation until the engine warms up.

How to diagnose

You’ll need a proper guide if you’re a DIYer who wants to track and fix the P0116 on Toyota or your respective car model. This will prevent wrong replacements of the good parts. This section is a simplified diagnosing procedure.

As reiterated above, this is an intermediate task. So this repair task is not recommended for beginners. Instead, contact an experienced mechanic, even if you’re an inexperienced DIYer.

Items and Tools Needed

  • Scanning tool with live data feature
  • Basic hand tools

Step 1: Scan the vehicle

Locate the OBD port on your vehicle and connect the scan tool. The OBD port is located beneath the steering wheel. Pull out all the registered error codes. View when the fault code was registered using the freeze frame data on your advanced scanning tool. If there are other registered codes, fix them as well.

Step 2: Do a visual inspection

Open the engine hood and locate the ECT sensor. Examine the engine coolant temperature for frayed, burnt, open, short, or damaged wires. Repair or replace any damaged wire.

Step 3: Test the thermostat

Locate the thermostat and remove it. Test the thermostat and see if it is working properly. If it is faulty, it’ll cause the engine control unit to log P0116 error code. Replace the thermostat if it is damaged.

If all of these procedures prove abortive, seek professional help. An experienced service technician will run a thorough diagnosis and proffer solutions.

Common P0116 diagnosis mistakes

The common diagnostics mistake amongst mechanics and car owners are not performing visual inspections on the ECT sensor wires and connector. And other mistakes include:

  • Not testing and replacing the thermostat with the correct temperature rating.
  • Not tracking and fixing the root cause of other similar codes.

How do you fix P0116?

One or more of the following repairs will be needed to fix error code P0116 on Audi and other car models.

  • Replacing faulty ECT sensor
  • Replacing a lousy thermostat with the correct temperature rating
  • Repairing or replacing frayed, burnt, or damaged wires and connectors

p0116 code fix

Approx. Repair Cost

It may be impossible to give an accurate repair cost since several factors can cause a P0116 diagnostic trouble code. Therefore, the service technician will start with an hour of diagnosis to pinpoint the root cause of the problem. Most auto shops charge $75 to $150 per hour.

Most auto mechanics will forfeit the diagnosing cost if you have them track and fix the culprit. For diagnostics trouble code P0116 on Hyundai and other car models, you will need one or more of the following repairs to fix the problem. The price below includes the parts cost and the service fee.

  • Replacing thermostat $140 to $350
  • Replacing engine coolant temperature sensor $75 to $300
  • Repairing or replacing frayed, burnt, or damaged wires $20 to $250.

Final Words

It is important to note that P0116 is a generic diagnostics trouble code. This means repair for the P0116 Honda code may differ from the P0116 Chevy Malibu code. Also, the P0116 code fix is not for amateurs. So, if you’re not an experienced DIYer, have a certified mechanic track and fix the culprit.

If you choose to track and fix the root cause of the P0116 trouble code at home, follow the diagnosis and repair procedures above accurately.

Osuagwu Solomon

Osuagwu Solomon is a certified mechanic with over a decade of experience in the mechanic garage, and he has over five years of experience in the writing industry. He started writing automotive articles to share his garage experience with car enthusiasts and armature mechanics. If he is not in the garage fixing challenging mechanical problems, he is writing automotive repair guides, buyer’s guides, and car and tools comparisons.

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