P0160 Code: Meaning, Symptoms, & Causes

Modern vehicles contain an oxygen sensor. The main function of the O2 sensor is to measure the oxygen level in the exhaust system to improve engine performance and reduce exhaust emissions. The powertrain control module (PCM) of your vehicle utilizes the information of the oxygen sensor to regulate the air-fuel ratio. These sensors also assist in diagnosing the issues with other components of your vehicle. When the powertrain control module of your vehicle monitors a problem in the sensor 2 circuit, it triggers the P0160 code. This article deeply explains the P0160 code meaning, symptoms, and causes.

P0160 Code Definition

The diagnostic trouble code (DTC) P0160 stands for “O2 Sensor Circuit No Activity Detected (Bank 2 Sensor 2).” 

Bank 2 indicates the side of the engine that contains cylinder number two. Sensor 2 indicates the oxygen sensor that is typically installed after the catalytic converter. Sensor 2 checks the efficiency of the catalytic converter. 

What Does the P0160 Code Mean?

The P0160 code indicates that your powertrain control module (PCM) detects an issue in the circuit for the O2 sensor for bank 2 sensor 2. 

P0160 code

The latest cars contain a post-catalyst oxygen sensor and a pre-catalyst oxygen sensor on each cylinder bank. The PCM/ECM of your vehicle uses the data of these two sensors to determine the overall efficiency of the catalytic converter.

The O2 sensor of your vehicle monitors the level of oxygen in the exhaust stream. These sensors assist the engine of your vehicle in running more effectively and reducing the emission of exhaust gases. The oxygen sensor is also important to determine the original cause of failures in other systems and components.

If one or more O2 sensors are defective, your PCM may not be able to test other components and systems properly.

Sensor 2 is usually installed after the catalytic converter to continuously check its effectiveness.

The P0160 code is triggered when the pre-catalyst O2 sensor (sensor 2) is stuck or slowly switching between high and low voltages. The pre-catalyst oxygen sensor of your vehicle normally alternates between low and high voltage 1 or 2 times per second.

 Causes of P0160 Code

  • Faulty post-catalytic oxygen sensor at Bank 2
  • Damaged or frayed electrical wires of sensor 2 for Bank 2
  • Melted harness
  • A hole in the exhaust system near the post-catalytic oxygen sensor
  • Loose connections to the O2 sensor
  • Blown fuse
  • A fault in the powertrain control module (rare)

Symptoms of Code P0160

  • Black smoke from the tailpipe
  • Check engine light is flashing
  • Poor acceleration
  • A reduction in the fuel economy
  • Rough idling
  • The engine is working on limp mode

How to Diagnose the P0160 Code

  • Verify the presence of the P0160 code by using an OBD2 scanner. Scan all codes stored in the PCM memory and use the freeze data to find the main issue.
  •  Inspect sensor 2 electrical wires for damage.
  • Inspect the connectors for wear and tear.
  • Properly inspect the post-catalytic oxygen sensor for a fault.
  • Inspect the electrical connector terminals for signs of water intrusion or corrosion.
  • Inspect the resistance of the O2 sensor. 
  • Check the voltage of the O2 sensor through a voltage test. 
  • Execute a leak test for combustion. 
  • Check the PCM/ECM to ensure it is operating efficiently. 

Common P0160 Code Diagnostic Mistakes

  • Replacing the post-catalytic oxygen sensor without inspecting the wiring and connectors is one of the most common mistakes.
  • Replacing the O2 sensor without inspecting the resistance of the O2 sensor.
  • Not properly checking the electrical wires and connectors for damage.
  • Conducting a combustion leak test without ensuring the proper functionality of the PCM.
  • Not testing the output voltage of the sensor for a definite voltage range. 

FAQ Section

How serious is the P0160 code?

The severity level of the P0160 code is moderate. If you drive with this code for a long time, you may face various drivability problems, such as poor idling and poor fuel economy. Driving with this code for a long distance may put extra stress on your vehicle parts which may lead to the complete failure of the engine.

What repairs can fix the P0160 code?

  • Replacing the faulty post-catalytic oxygen sensor
  • Replacing the blown fuse
  • Replacing the damaged electrical wires
  • Fixing the corroded or loose connections
  • Cleaning the O2 sensor
  • Replacing the faulty PCM

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