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P0141 Code: Meaning, Symptoms, Causes, Diagnostics, and Fixes

When the P0141 code activates, it means one of the oxygen sensors in your engine isn’t getting up to temperature fast enough. Your engine uses this data to control system’s air flow. An issue with the sensors can throw off the air to fuel ratio, leading to a host of other engine problems.

While the P0141 OBD2 trouble code isn’t serious when it initially appears, a bad air/fuel mixture can seriously harm your engine in the long term. Repairing your engine as soon as possible gives you a chance to fix the issue before you need serious repairs. 

Isolating the cause of the P0141 code is a bit easier than finding the source of many trouble codes. Read on below for a step-by-step guide to diagnosing and repairing your oxygen sensor. 

The P0141 code indicates a problem with your O2 sensor
The P0141 code means your oxygen sensor isn’t getting up to temperature fast enough

P0141 Code Definition

P0141 Code Definition (Generic): O2 sensor heater circuit malfunction (bank 1, sensor 2)

P0141 BMW Code Definition: O2 sensor heater circuit malfunction bank 1 sensor 2

P0141 Ford Code Definition: O2 heater circuit bank 1 sensor 2

P0141 Honda Code Definition: O2 bank 1 sensor 2 heater circuit malfunction bank

P0141 Toyota Code Definition: H02S12 heater circuit malfunction

What Does P0141 Mean?

The oxygen sensors in your engine contain heating elements. This gets them to operating temperature faster, allowing them to more quickly send information to your PCM. The engine control unit keeps track of how long it takes for these sensors to warm up. When it takes too long, the P0141 code is triggered.

One great thing about the P0141 trouble code is that it points you to the specific location of the error. Bank 1 is the side of the engine containing cylinder 1. Sensor 2 is the second oxygen sensor that’s downstream of the engine.

When the P0141 code is active, your system spends too long in an open loop. This could throw off the air to fuel ratio, resulting in a mix that’s too rich (more fuel than there should be). Luckily, if there are no other codes present you know the problem is isolated to the second oxygen sensor on bank 1.

What Are The Symptoms Of The P0141 Code?

There are typically few drivability issues associated with the P0141 code. The most common symptoms include:

  • Activation of the check engine light
  • Reduced fuel efficiency
  • Engine runs rough
  • Fouled spark plugs and misfires (rare)

What Are The Causes Of P0141?

  • Oxygen sensor is faulty 
  • Excessive current draw from oxygen sensor
  • Wiring around oxygen sensor is damaged or failing
  • High resistance in oxygen sensor heating element
  • Open ground or short in wiring harness

In very rare instances, a failed catalytic converter can trigger the P0141 trouble code. However, you will normally see a P0420 trouble code as well in this instance. If P0141 is the only OBD2 code triggered, the catalytic converter is unlikely to be the issue. 

How Serious Is The P0141 Code?

The P0141 OBD2 code is of moderate severity. You can still drive your car if you can’t fix it immediately. The longer it goes un-fixed, though, the more likely it will cause more serious engine issues, including misfires. You should repair this code as soon as you can to prevent additional future repairs.

How To Diagnose The P0141 Code

Tools You’ll Need:

The P0141 code can be diagnosed with the OBD2 scan tool
Use a OBD2 scan tool to diagnose the P0141 code

Method:

  1. Visually inspect the wiring around the oxygen sensor and wiring harness. Replace any wires that are damaged or corroded and ensure all connections are secure.
  2. Check the metal tabs and terminals for corrosion or damage. Replace as needed.
  3. Use the OBD2 scan tool to read the freeze frame data at the time the code occurred. This can help you identify the source of the failure.
  4. Check the O2 sensor data using your scan tool. Read the data for oxygen sensor 2 on bank 1. If the temperature is not rising until the engine is fully warmed up, the heating element is not functioning.
  5. Make sure the oxygen sensor is getting voltage from the battery using a multimeter. Disconnect the harness connector then turn the ignition on without turning on the engine. Your vehicle’s manual should have specific information on how to test the sensor voltage properly for your particular make and model.
  6. Ensure all connections around the engine ground are secure. Also inspect it for any corrosion.

Common Mistakes To Avoid While Diagnosing The P0141 Code

Many people automatically replace the indicated oxygen sensor when the P0141 code comes up. While this is often the problem, make sure you conduct a full diagnosis before buying any new components. 

What Should You Do To Fix The Code P0141?

  1. Clear the codes and conduct a road test, emulating the conditions that triggered the code initially. The minor repairs made during your diagnosis may have fixed the problem. If the code triggers again, continue with step 2.
  2. Clean away any corrosion found on the engine ground. 
  3. If the oxygen sensor fails the voltage test, remove it from your vehicle. Inspect for dirt and corrosion around the connections. If you find any, clean it with a delicate, electronics cleaner (like MAF sensor cleaner) and re-test the sensor. 
  4. Replace the bank 1 second oxygen sensor.
  5. If this still doesn’t solve the problem, you may have an issue with your vehicle’s electronics, perhaps even a failure of the engine control unit. Take your car to a mechanic for further diagnosis. 
P0141 Diagnosing O2 Sensor Heater Failure Codes

Tips To Avoid P0141 In The Future

Corrosion on the wires, grounds, and other components of your engine can be prevented. Treating your engine with rust-preventing compounds is an especially good idea if you live in a humid climate. 

Failure in the sensors can also be caused by a short or power surge. These can be caused by improper wiring. Make sure all the wires in your engine are securely connected. Also check that they’re not touching anything that could damage them, including engine components that get very hot. 

Read more: KARFANS K120: Universal OBD2 Scanner with Battery Monitor Review

Tim MillerFounderOBD Advisor

I’m Tim Miller from Denver, Colorado. I’m the founder of obdadvisor.com, an automotive blog about "Diagnostic Tools and Auto Repair". My fan page is facebook.com/autozikcom. I've been working as an automotive mechanic and blogger for over 10 years writing articles to share my experiences and expertise.

Web: https://www.obdadvisor.comEmail: [email protected]
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