P0110 – Intake air temperature (IAT) sensor -circuit malfunction

By Ti (Contact Me)
Last Updated 2016-06-02
Mechanical Engineer
CodeFault LocationProbable Cause
P0110 Intake air temperature (IAT) sensor -circuit malfunction
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Wiring, IAT sensor, ECM

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Table of Contents

  1. What Does Code P0110 Mean?
  2. What are the common causes of code P0110 ?
  3. How do you troubleshoot code P0110 ?
  4. Get Help with P0110

What Does Code P0110 Mean?

The P0110 occurs when the PCM reads a signal in the IAT circuit which is outside expected voltages.  This is similar to P0111 except that the P0110 is a less specific error code.  P0111 is set when the sensor itself is most likely at fault whereas P0110 is a general circuit problem.

Understanding the IAT electrical circuit is important to correctly diagnosing a P0110 code.  The following Youtube video gives an excellent overview of the IAT circuit:

IAT/ECT Circuit Operation and Troubleshooting Tips – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A3BB0JxNO7I

See the IAT in depth article (P0112) for more background on the IAT sensor.

Note: “Circuit Malfunction” indicates that there is a malfunction in the control circuit, as opposed to a fault in a sensor or other component. With “Circuit Malfunction” codes, replacement of sensors and components in the affected circuit will almost never resolve the problem, since as the code suggests, the trouble is in the circuit. This distinction between “circuit” and “sensor/component” is a great help to anyone trying to diagnose a circuit malfunction code, since it narrows the list of possible causes down considerably.

The causes of “Circuit Malfunction” codes are much the same as those for “Open Circuits” i.e., broken wiring, poor connections across electrical connectors or previously repaired wiring, loss of ground that prevents current flow, blown fuses, defective relays, faulty switches, or any of a host of other issues and problems that prevents a flow of current through wiring. Issues like high/low/intermittent voltages can set a “Circuit Malfunction” code on some applications. Moreover, “Circuit Malfunction” codes could also indicate a problem with negative current control / flow, as well as issues with failed or failing PCM’s (Powertrain Control Modules), although control module failure is a rare event.

What are the common causes of code P0110 ?

Depending on year, make, and model, DTC P0110 may have number of causes. Here are some of the most common.

  • Defective IAT Sensor – As with all solid-state components, the IAT sensor may cease to function properly, be it due to manufacturing processes or damage.
  • Contaminated Sensor – If the IAT sensor is especially dirty, such as due to a poorly-installed air filter or excessive positive crankcase ventilation (PCV) blow-by, the sensor may deteriorate or won’t react as fast to temperature changes.
  • Improper Installation – The IAT sensor needs to be in the full flow of air into the engine intake. If the sensor is touching a metal surface, such as IAT sensors installed in the intake manifold, it could ruin the sensor or throw off its reaction to temperature changes.
  • Stored Vehicles – Stored vehicles are particularly susceptible to rodent damage. In building their nests and making room for runways, rodents may gnaw through wires, among other things, interrupting circuits critical to your engine’s operation.

Diagnosing DTC P0110 is not a particularly difficult task. The sensor itself is simple in operation, which makes its analysis easy. On the other hand, if you have to trace an open or short circuit in the wiring harness, this will take time and patience. Depending on year, make, and model, the IAT may be reasonably priced, less than $100 in many cases, but if it is part of the MAF sensor, this will increase the price significantly. Have a professional double check your work before you condemn the MAF/IAT. Similarly, if you have done all your checks and suspect the ECU may be at fault, have your work double checked by a professional, before you condemn an expensive ECU.

How do you troubleshoot code P0110 ?

This is a simple circuit, just two wires running from the ECU to the IAT sensor. If you have access to a scan tool, you can use it to read temperatures directly, otherwise you can use a DVOM (digital volt-ohm meter), thermometer, and a short pin, such as a thin wire or paper clip. A resistance table for your specific year, make, and model, will be especially helpful. You can often find these online, or perhaps if you ask your local trusted automobile technician.

  1. Sensor Check – With the key in the off position, disconnect the IAT sensor. With your DVOM set to Ohms Ω, measure the resistance across the terminals of the sensor.
    1. If you read an open circuit or short circuit (∞ Ω or 0.0 Ω), the sensor is at fault. Replace the sensor and you should be good to go.
    2. If you read resistance, check it against the temperature / resistance chart. If the engine is cold, then the IAT temperature / resistance should be fairly close to ambient temperature, which you can measure with a thermometer. If the resistance is correct at ambient temperature, you may still have a sensor problem. A sensor that reads properly at ambient temperature may go out of range at other temperatures. You can check for sensor problems by checking the resistance after you change its temperature, such as by putting it in a pot of boiling water or in the freezer.
  2. Circuit Check – If the sensor itself appears to be properly responding to temperature changes, then you can proceed with circuit checks.
    1. With KOEO (key on, engine off), disconnect the IAT sensor, and check for voltage in the connector.
      1. One of the wires should read 5 V reference. If you have no 5 V reference, you may have an open circuit or an ECU fault.
      2. The other wire should read 0 V. If you can properly identify the signal wire, check for resistance to ground, which should read 0.0 Ω. An open circuit likely means you have a wiring problem. On the other hand, 0.0 Ω could still indicate a short to ground.
    2. If there is no 5 V reference voltage, there could be an open circuit between the ECU and the sensor, a short circuit to ground, or the ECU itself may be at fault. If there is no signal voltage on the other line, then you could have a defective sensor, open circuit, or short to ground.
      1. At the ECU, check for reference and signal voltage. If there is no 5 V reference, the ECU may be at fault. If there is low or no signal voltage, check for corrosion or an open circuit in the wires to the IAT sensor.
      2. Turn the key to the off position, disconnect the ECU connector, and check for resistance. If the resistance reading is the same as the sensor check, then the ECU may be at fault. If you measure 0.0 Ω or ∞ Ω, check for open or short circuit in the wiring to the IAT sensor.
  • Disconnect the sensor and measure resistance again, it should now read as an open circuit, ∞ Ω. If you read any resistance at all, check for short circuits in the wiring to the IAT sensor.
  1. Install a short wire, in the IAT sensor connector, and check for resistance in the circuit.
    1. The proper reading should be 0.0 Ω. Any reading over 1 Ω could indicate corrosion or an open circuit.
    2. Check for resistance to ground. Any reading under 1,000 kΩ could indicate a short to ground in one of the wires to the IAT sensor.
  2. If you have access to a scan tool and live data, you can perform many of these checks simply by reading ECU IAT readings. With KOEO, read the temperature with the sensor connected, and then disconnected. If there is no change, you have a circuit problem. If there is a change, you have a sensor problem.

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