P0161 – Meaning, Causes, Symptoms, & Fixes

Code P0161 Definition

O2 Sensor Heater Circuit Malfunction (Bank 2 Sensor 2) – Downstream

Code P0161 Meaning

Heated oxygen sensors contain heating elements to help them get to operating temperature quickly in order to minimize the amount of time spent before they can provide feedback to the powertrain control module. Sensor two is downstream of the catalytic converter ensures the catalytic converter is operating efficiently by monitoring the air-fuel ratio coming out of the catalytic converter. Code P0161 occurs when the powertrain control module tests the downstream heated oxygen sensor’s heater circuit on Bank 2 and detects a short in the circuit or excessive resistance in the heater circuit.

P0161 Symptoms

  • Check Engine Light is on
  • Engine running rough
  • Decreased fuel economy

P0161 Causes

  • Faulty rear most oxygen sensor
  • Faulty wiring/connections
  • Short or open ground in the wiring

Code P0161 Severity – Low to Moderate   

This Diagnostic Trouble Code (DTC) does not need to be attended to immediately, but this DTC could result in more costly repairs in the future.

 

Code P0161 Common Diagnosis Mistakes

Replacing the oxygen sensor when the issues could actually lie in the catalytic converter, wiring/connections, or an exhaust leak before the oxygen sensor.

Code P0161 Diagnosis Steps

  • Tools Needed to Diagnose:

How To Diagnose P0161
This video does a great job of outlining the diagnostic process for P0161, but we have provided an overview below:

  1. Do a road test. Clear the fault codes with your FIXD sensor and drive around to verify a failure.
    1. If the Check Engine Light comes back on continue to Step 2
  2. Check that the O2 sensor is getting battery voltage by using your multimeter.
    1. Consult your vehicle repair manual to locate the harness connector for the O2 sensor
    2. Disconnect the harness connector and turn the ignition to the on position (do not crank car)
    3. Test O2 sensor for proper voltage with a multimeter using the instructions from your vehicle’s repair manual.
  3. Visually check the electrical connections, wire harness, and metal tabs in terminals for any damages
    1. Damages found? Replace O2 Sensor – Clear code
    2. No damage? Continue on to Step 4
  4. Check the engine ground – Consult your repair manual to find where the engine ground is located
    1. Corrosion? Loose connections? Remove corrosion/tighten and restart the diagnostic process

* Still having trouble finding the issue with your vehicle? Please take it to the nearest auto shop so that they may check other possible issues including the Engine Control Module (ECM).

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Comments 3

JB

October 27, 2018

This is a wonderful service.

FIXD Marketing

October 29, 2018

Thanks JB! Glad we can help!

FIXD Team

Christian

December 5, 2018

I just got this code on my 97 Chevy Tahoe (Bank 2 Sensor 2)