P2177 – System too lean off idle, bank 1

Reinier

By Reinier (Contact Me)
Last Updated 2018-10-03
Automobile Repair Shop Owner

Trouble CodeFault LocationProbable Cause
P2177 System too lean off idle, bank 1 Fuel pressure, injectors, intake leak

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What Does Code P2177 Mean?

OBD II fault code P2177 is a generic code that is defined as “System Too Lean Off Idle Bank 1”, and is set when the PCM (Powertrain Control Module) detects that there is too much air relative to fuel in the air/fuel mixture on Bank 1. Note that “Bank 1” refers to the bank of cylinders that contains cylinder #1 on V-type engines, and “off idle” means that the condition is detected when the engine is running above idling speed.

The quality of the air/fuel mixture is of critical importance on gasoline engines, and to ensure that the ideal ratio of 14.7 parts of air to 1 part of fuel is maintained, all PCM’s have the ability to make adaptations to the fuel delivery system so that the ratio of fuel and air in the mixture is always at an optimum level.

As a practical matter, the PCM uses input data from a variety of engine sensors to monitor the volume of air that enters the engine, with this value serving as the basis on which the fuel delivery strategy is calculated. In addition, the PCM also uses input data from oxygen sensors whose function it is to measure the amount of oxygen in the exhaust stream as a function of the combustion process.

In practice, the oxygen sensors are located on either side of the catalytic converter, with the upstream oxygen sensor providing the primary input data that ultimately controls the air fuel mixture. In terms of operation, modern wide-band oxygen sensors compare the concentration of oxygen in the exhaust stream to ambient oxygen levels, and since normal driving necessarily produces changes in the air/fuel mixture, the changing oxygen levels in the exhaust stream are detected by the oxygen sensor almost immediately.

However, to avoid large adaptations to the fuel injector pulse width (which controls the amount of fuel being injected), the PCM alternately switches the oxygen sensor to read rich and lean mixtures several times per second. The practical advantage of doing this is that the PCM is better able to control the air/fuel mixture by averaging out the rich and lean conditions several times per second through making small adaptations, as opposed to making large adaptations when for instance, a large throttle input creates an extremely rich-running condition that can last for several seconds.

In technical jargon, these small adaptations to the fuel delivery strategy are known as Short-term Fuel Trims, and although these “trims” can be performed almost instantly in response to input data from the upstream oxygen sensor, the amount of fuel the PCM is able to add to enrich the mixture, or subtract to lean out the mixture, is limited. Therefore, when the PCM detects that it is unable to add a sufficient quantity of fuel (by altering the injector pulse width) to maintain the air/fuel mixture to within acceptable limits when the engine is running above idling speed, it will set code P2177, and may also illuminate a warning light as a result.

Where is the P2177 sensor located?

The image above shows the location (circled) of the upstream oxygen sensor in the exhaust manifold on a Honda Civic application. Note however that while the upstream sensor is located similarly on many applications, there are many instances where the upstream oxygen sensor is located in the exhaust tubing closer to the catalytic converter under the vehicle.

In these cases, it is important to refer to the repair manual for the affected application to locate and identify the upstream oxygen sensor correctly, since there may be several other unrelated sensors located close to the catalytic converter as well. Note that failure to identify the upstream oxygen sensor correctly could lead to a misdiagnosis and the unnecessary replacement of sensors, parts, and components.

What are the common causes of code P2177?

Some common causes of code P2177 could include the following-

  • Damaged, burnt, shorted, disconnected, or corroded wiring and/or connectors in the upstream oxygen sensor’s wiring
  • Vacuum system leaks that cause unmetered air to enter the engine
  • Defective upstream oxygen sensor
  • Insufficient fuel pressure, but note that this will almost certainly be indicated by an additional code along with P2177
  • Dirty, or contaminated MAF sensor element
  • Use the aftermarket MAF sensors, especially on high-end European applications
  • Failed or failing PCM, but note that since this is a rare event, the fault must be sought elsewhere before any control module is replaced

NOTE: Be aware that code P2177 is often accompanied by one or more additional active and/or pending codes that could include codes relating to misfires, camshaft and crankshaft sensor codes, the catalytic converters’ efficiency, abnormal fuel pressure, and ignition system issues. If any such codes are present, these codes must be investigated and resolved in the order in which they were set and stored before an attempt is made to diagnose P2177. Failure to do this could result in a misdiagnosis, and the unnecessary replacement of parts and components.

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