P0169 – Incorrect Fuel Composition

Here's where you can get a thorough understanding of the P0169 OBD2 code

If you want to learn about the P0169 OBD2 code, this is the right place.

Filling up a car’s fuel tank with the wrong fuel is a common mistake people make at the fuel stations. According to the research, people repeat this mistake more often on the weekends rather than on weekdays. Also, evening or midnight is the most dangerous time when people fill up the wrong fuel in their vehicles. Then the ball comes in the court of the wrong fuel drain companies and mobile workshops. 

There are hundreds of Diagnostic Trouble Codes (DTC) that actually describe the issue in your vehicle. These codes may vary from make to make and model to model in the cars. The most widely used OBD2 diagnostic trouble code for the wrong fuel composition is P0169.

What is P0169 DTC?

P0169 DTC is a generic OBD2 trouble code for powertrain, which applies to most Chevrolet, Ford, Toyota, and VW vehicles. Apart from these makes it perfectly well fits in GMC, Dodge, and Ram as well.

It doesn’t mean that if the code is the same in the above-said makes, the repair procedure will also be the same. The repairs may vary from model to model and make to make in all the above-said vehicles.

How is P0169 Triggered?

This error code – P0169 – is triggered when the Powertrain Control Module (PCM) detects signals from fuel sensors, e.g., fuel composition sensor and fuel temperature sensor. These signals indicate that the fuel delivery is heavily contaminated and has higher ethanol levels, or any other contaminants are mixed in the fuel. In these conditions, flex-fuel vehicles can go even longer with highly contaminated fuel, with up to 85 percent of mixed fuel.

What is The Fuel Composition Sensor?

It is a small computerized device integrated into the small housing along with the temperature sensor. It works along with the temperature sensor. This small device gives accurate measures of fuel composition to the powertrain control module. It also analyzes the fuel temperature at the stage when it passes through the inline sensor.

How Does it Work?

The fuel composition sensor electronically analyzes the data to determine the level of ethanol and other contaminants in the fuel. It also recognizes the water and other unknown contaminants in fuel delivery.

Analyzing the fuel composition is not the only purpose of this device, but it also generates a high voltage string from the car drive-train system. The higher the voltage produced by the device, the higher levels of contamination present in the fuel. 

Apart from other fuel contaminations, this system measures the amount of ethanol to precisely deliver the stats. Supposing the detected amount of the contaminants exceeds the standard limit of that particular fuel ingredient. In that case, the PCM system automatically triggers the P0169, and it will appear on the malfunction code list of your vehicle. It will further illuminate your Malfunction Indicator Light (MIL) on your vehicle’s dashboard, which will indicate that you have the wrong fuel injected into the fuel tank of your vehicle.

Wrong Fuel Code Severity and its Symptoms

It doesn’t make any difference that to what extent the code condition is severe. If it triggers, it must be treated according to the procedure. The reason is that it is more crucial to delivering clean fuel that is fit for your vehicle. Therefore, it should be taken very seriously whenever a diagnose trouble code triggers, especially the P0169 code, because calculating the fuel delivery strategy is the most critical part of the engine combustion.

Usually, the P0169 code doesn’t show any significant symptoms but MIL illumination. However, the light can illuminate due to several standards set for the system. The most significant symptoms may include:

  • Abnormal fuel delivery
  • Excessive contamination of ethanol in fuel
  • Wrong fuel used
  • Abnormal fuel temperature
  • Electric system short circuits
  • Damage wiring connectors in the powertrain control module.

It may also illuminate because of a program error in the PCM unit. In some models, it will also keep ON during the repair process.

Where to start the Wrong Fuel Drain process?

There are two options to start from as follows:

  • Contact your wrong fuel assist service near you and let them do their job as professionals.
  • Start from your vehicle technical service bulletins, specifically for your particular vehicle. Your issue may be a known one, and several fixes will be offered in the bulletins. Many fixes are offered for known fixes by the manufacturer, which is the best way to save your time and money.

Apart from all these things, during the diagnostic process, you need:

It is also necessary to keep the vehicle trouble diagnostic information or any DIY booklet about the P0169 trouble code with you to get assistance from at any time.