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Doug C.
Doug C., ASE Certified Technician
Category: Nissan
Satisfied Customers: 8621
Experience:  ASE Certified Technician
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P0171 error code, what doesit mean, Almera Petrol. has

Resolved Question:

P0171 error code, what doesit mean
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Customer: Almera Petrol. has failed mot due to emmission high. using excessive fuel
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Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Nissan
Expert:  Doug C. replied 1 year ago.

Hi,

I can help you with this.

Expert:  Doug C. replied 1 year ago.

A P0171 is indicating a fuel trim malfunction, specifically that the fuel mixture is too lean.
What this means is that the computer is reading the exhaust, it is:

1- seeing too little fuel content in the exhaust

2- it has attempted to add fuel to balance the mixture out

3- after adding maximum amount of addition fuel, the system is still too lean

There are a few reasons this can happen. While the knee jerk reaction is you can have a fuel pressure problem preventing proper fuel delivery, this is not always the case (and fairly rare until you get into pretty old vehicles). It is more often either a result of a vacuum leak in the engine, particularly if there has been recent work done, where a failed gasket or hose is sucking additional air in that is not metered, leaning the mixture out.... or a sensor related issue (MAF reading incorrectly, Oxygen sensor stuck).

What you would want to have done is get the vehicle hooked up to a live data scan tool so that the fuel trims can be watched while the engine idles. Then use brake cleaner or (unlit) propane around the engine to see if there is a leak. If there is a vacuum leak then when you get near it the engine will draw in the additional "fuel" and cause the idle to change as well as the fuel trims will start to go negative (rich).

If there are no vacuum leaks externally, then we would look at the oxygen sensor reading (front sensor) and see if it is alternating properly. It should be switching voltage about once every second. If it is stuck at a voltage and does not move even when you blip the throttle, the sensor is failed.

If the oxygen sensor is reading properly, then we would want to read the MAF value to make sure it is within range.

Beyond those items you get into long shot scenarios.... weak fuel pressure (so check fuel pressure), timing has jumped (valves opening too soon, bring in too much air) etc.
More often than not it will end up being a vacuum leak or sensor failure though.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hope so
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Have been looking on internet for ideas, 1 being possible PCV valve?
Expert:  Doug C. replied 1 year ago.

The PCV valve is highly unlikely to cause this with one exception... if the line is broken to it (like we discussed) or the valve is stuck wide opened... either of course introducing an unmetered air leak.
The reason it is not too likely to be the valve is that if the valve sticks open you will have other symptoms. Notably it will smoke blue heavily (As it is is sucking crank case vapors all the time), the idle will be MUCH higher than normal, and you likely will not be able to pull the dipstick or oil cap off the engine while it is running (due to the crank case being under vacuum).

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thanks, ***** ***** were is the pcv valve situated?
Expert:  Doug C. replied 1 year ago.

No problem. The PCV valve is mounted in the valve cover (top of the engine where the plugs go etc).
I may have a picture to help show it... do you know which size engine you have (1.4, 1.6, 1.8, 2.0)?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
1.6
Expert:  Doug C. replied 1 year ago.

Thanks, I'm attaching a photo of the 1.6 engine PCV location, circled in red. The hose going between it and the intake right behind it is the line I spoke of that can sometimes split and leak vacuum.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thanks very much, thats all for now.
Expert:  Doug C. replied 1 year ago.

You're very welcome, good luck!

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