P0471 – Exhaust gas pressure sensor -range/performance problem

Reinier

By Reinier (Contact Me)
Last Updated 2018-09-13
Automobile Repair Shop Owner

Trouble CodeFault LocationProbable Cause
P0471 Exhaust gas pressure sensor -range/performance problem Exhaust gas pressure sensor

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What Does Code P0471 Mean?

OBD II fault code P0471 is a generic code that is defined as “Exhaust Pressure Sensor “A” Circuit Range/Performance”, and is set when the PCM (Powertrain Control Module) detects an implausible signal from the exhaust pressure sensor that is labeled “A”, or a signal from this sensor that does not match the desired value when the ignition is switched on, and is therefore out of the expected or possible range.

In the context of “key on” values, this refers to the fact that the signal voltage from this sensor must match the signal voltages from the manifold pressure and intake air temperature sensors, even though there are no actual pressures to measure in the intake manifold or exhaust system beyond the current ambient atmospheric pressure.

Note that this code applies to all applications (both diesel and gasoline) that are fitted with variable nozzle/geometry turbochargers, since exhaust backpressure has major influence on how well (or otherwise) these types of turbochargers work. Note also that the exhaust backpressure sensor should not be confused with the DPFE sensor, which performs entirely different function.

While a certain amount of exhaust backpressure is desirable because it assists with extracting exhaust gas from the engine, excessive backpressure causes a plethora of issues that range from excessive fuel consumption, loss of power under some conditions, engine overheating, and even damage to turbochargers. To prevent these and other complications, exhaust backpressure sensors are used to monitor the actual exhaust backpressure, which must agree closely with the desired backpressure value for a signal to be valid.

In terms of operation, most exhaust backpressure sensors are supplied with a 5-volt reference voltage that changes as the resistance of the sensor changes in response to changes in the actual backpressure in the exhaust system. As a practical matter, the PCM interprets the changing signal voltage values as pressure values that serve several purposes. In the case of diesel applications, the backpressure value serves as a measure of the efficiency of the diesel particulate filter, while on other applications, the actual exhaust backpressure is one of the reference points the PCM uses to calculate appropriate boost pressures, as well as adaptations to fuel and ignition timing strategies.

When the PCM detects an abnormal or out-of-range signal from the exhaust backpressure sensor, it will recognize that it cannot control one or more critical engine and/or boost control functions effectively, and it will set code P0471, and illuminate a warning light as a result. Note that along with P0471, the PCM may also set one or more (or several) turbocharger, DPF (Diesel Particulate Filter), catalytic converter, and exhaust emission related codes, some of which may illuminate dedicated warning lights.

Where is the P0471 sensor located?

The image above shows the location (arrowed) of the exhaust backpressure sensor on a Ford Powerstroke application. Note though that since the actual appearance and location of this sensor varies greatly between applications, it is important to refer to the manual for the affected application to locate and identify the exhaust backpressure sensor correctly, because there could be as many as eight or even ten sensors on some exhaust systems. Failure to identify the correct sensor could result in a misdiagnosis, and the unnecessary replacement of parts, sensors, and other components.

What are the common causes of code P0471 ?

Some common causes of code P0471 could include the following-

  • Damaged, burnt, shorted, disconnected, or corroded wiring and/or connectors in the backpressure sensor’s wiring
  • Illegal, unauthorized, or ill-considered modifications to the exhaust system
  • Defective exhaust backpressure sensor
  • Clogged or restricted tube that connects the back pressure sensor to the exhaust system- common on Ford Powerstroke engines
  • 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

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