P0313 – Misfire detected -low fuel level

By Reinier (Contact Me)
Last Updated 2018-02-07
Automobile Repair Shop Owner
CodeFault LocationProbable Cause
P0313 Misfire detected -low fuel level
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Fuel system, mechanical fault

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Table of Contents

  1. What Does Code P0313 Mean?
  2. Where is the P0313 sensor located?
  3. What are the common causes of code P0313 ?
  4. Get Help with P0313

What Does Code P0313 Mean?

OBD II fault code P0313 is a generic code that is defined as “Misfire detected -low fuel level”, and is most commonly set when the PCM (Powertrain Control Module) detects a misfire on one or more cylinders when the fuel level in the tank is below a minimum allowable level.

If this code sets when the fuel level is low, it is typically because the fuel level is so low that the pickup point on the fuel pump is sometimes above the fuel level, which causes the fuel pump to “suck” air, which in turn, causes intermittent failures in the fuel supply to the injectors.  Note also that if code P0313 sets under low fuel conditions, it will only be after the engine has completed at least six full revolutions after starting, and then only if the PCM has determined that the fuel level is below a predefined critical level.

However, code P0313 is among a group of ambiguous codes, which if taken at face value, appear to be easily resolvable, but in practice though, code P0313 can also be set even if the fuel tank is full. Thus, if it is certain that the fuel level is above the fuel pump pickup point,  it is often more profitable to  approach this code from the standpoint of there sometimes not being enough fuel (relative to air) available at one or more cylinders to complete the combustion process successfully. An air/fuel imbalance is most commonly due to large vacuum leaks that cause unmetered air to enter the engine, defective fuel injectors, and/or defective sensors that could include the MAF (Mass Airflow) sensor, IAT (Intake Air Temperature) sensor, and MAP (Manifold Absolute Pressure) sensor, among others.

An alternative approach might be to look for problems that prevent combustion on one or more cylinders altogether: in the latter case, the problem could be electrical, such as the absence of a spark, or mechanical, such as a partial or complete loss of compression on one or more cylinders.

In practical terms, the resolution of this code often depends on whether or not other codes are present along with P0313. More importantly, though, if other codes are present, the repair steps required to resolve all codes depend entirely on which additional codes are present along with P0313. For example, if the fuel level is known not to be low but there are codes present (along with P0313) that relate to low fuel pressure, the fault clearly involves faults with the fuel system, as opposed to a low fuel level in the tank.

From the above it should be clear that code P0313 could have many possible causes besides a low fuel level. However, most, if not all other possible causes will almost certainly be indicated by trouble codes that relate to specific issues other than a low fuel level. In these cases, it is almost certain that P0313 had set as a reaction to other issues, as opposed to P0313 having been the cause of the additional codes.

Note that if other codes are indeed present along with P0313, one or more of these codes could cause the PCM to initiate a failsafe or limp mode, particularly if there is a possibility that the misfire might damage the catalytic converter(s).

Where is the P0313 sensor located?

The image above shows the type of damage (indicated by the white arrow) to the inlet ducting that might cause code P0313 to set in cases where the code did not set as the result of a low fuel level.

What are the common causes of code P0313 ?

It is perhaps worth noting that if there are no additional codes present along with P0313, the most common cause of this code is an actual low fuel level. However, while air leaks in the inlet ducting (as shown above) often remain undetected until a thorough visual inspection of the inlet ducting is performed, vacuum leaks such as the one shown above can cause “lean running”, or even  seemingly random misfire related codes, including P0313.

Other possible causes of code P0313 could include the following-

  • Defective fuel level indicator mechanism/gauge showing the fuel level to be higher than it actually is
  • Defective fuel pump
  • Damaged, shorted, disconnected, or corroded wiring and/or connectors that cause intermittent failures in the fuel pump’s power supply
  • Clogged or dirty fuel filter
  • Defective fuel pressure regulator
  • Defective fuel injectors
  • Failed or failing PCM or other control module. Note that these are rare events, and the fault must therefore be sought elsewhere before any control module is replaced

Other possible contributory causes of code P0313 that are not directly related to the fuel system could include the following, but note that these issues will almost certainly be indicated by codes that relate to a specific issue-

  • Worn spark plugs
  • Degraded spark plug leads
  • Defective ignition coils, or ignition coil packs
  • Defective crank position sensor and/or reluctor ring
  • Crank position and cam shaft position sensors not correlating
  • Damaged, or leaking engine valves that cause a loss of compression
  • Excessive carbon deposits on valve that inhibit the flow of the air/fuel mixture
  • Large vacuum leaks in the inlet tract
  • Defective MAF (Mass Airflow) sensor
  • Defective MAP (Manifold Absolute Pressure) sensor
  • Defective barometric pressure sensor

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