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Error Code P0217 is described as Engine Overtemp Condition or Engine Overheat Condition. Meaning, the engine is/was overheating, and should be turned off as soon as possible. This happens when the engine coolant is excessively high under a normal speed of engine.
This code is a generic trouble code, meaning, it applies to all vehicles equipped with OBD-II, especially vehicles made in 1996 up to present. Specifications on the definition, troubleshooting and repairs of course, vary from one make and/or model to another.
The PCM (powertrain control module, also referred as ECM or engine control module in other makes) monitors the engine’s coolant temperature as the engine runs. Most engine coolants come with a sensor which sends signal voltage to the PCM, which is then converted to temperature. If this temperature is excessively higher than the specified temperature for the vehicle, the PCM will trigger the Check Engine light and register Error Code P0217.
Overheat condition means temperature above 240 ˚ to 250˚ F in the cooling system. This of course, may vary from one manufacturer to another.
Also, having this code in memory means the vehicle has an engine overtemp indicator light, which illuminates in the event of an overheating condition. Many vehicles today come with temperature gauge, but not all. The light illuminates before engine damage happens, this is to shut down the engine and prevent further problems as soon as possible.
As with other trouble codes, this too activates the Check Engine light, and on vehicles with fail-safe cooling systems, a message will be displayed indicating the engine power has been reduced. Other symptoms of Error Code P0217 include:
- Loss of power
- Low coolant
- Engine shut off to prevent severe damage caused by overheating
- Expelled coolant from radiator or reservoir
- Coolant leak causing sn acrid smell
- Coolant may explode all around the cooling system if the system has been over pressurized
- Steam or smoke may come out from the engine compartment
- Loud boiling sounds coming out of the engine bay
- Broken air conditioner (on some vehicles, overheating causes the PCM to shut down the A/C to reduce the engine load)
A leak in the cooling system from various parts such as thermostat housing, radiator, radiator hoses, water pump, heater hoses, head gasket or the engine itself are the most common causes of Error Code P0217. Other usual suspects include:
- Faulty coolant temperature sensor
- Low coolant caused by leak in the cooling system
- Radiator restriction or other parts of the cooling system
- Cylinder head gasket leaking to the cooling system
- A/C condenser restriction or debris
- Overloaded trailer towing
- Faulty or stuck close thermostat
- Broken fan clutch or electric cooling fan
- Faulty water pump
- Faulty PCM
How to Check
To diagnose this error code, a qualified mechanic will check the coolant level and the entire cooling system; and will look for signs of damages such as cracks and leaks.
Next, if there are no obvious physical issues, he will then proceed to run a pressure test for the cooling system to verify and locate any leaks. Should there be a leak, there’s a high chance it’s what is causing the error code. Thus, it must be fixed. Of course, further diagnosis is still needed to confirm.
Should there be no leaks in the cooling system, the mechanic will then proceed to check the electric cooling fans or fan clutch. If the fans aren’t working properly, the fuses and relays must be checked to fix the problem for electric fans. If the malfunctioning fans are non-electric, that means the fan clutch must be replaced.
For a faulty electric fan, the fuse, relay or the fan itself must be replaced. As long as there are no issues on the operation of the cooling fan, the mechanic can use the infrared thermometer to check for hot spots in the cooling system.
Hot spots in the cooling system means there’s a restriction, and restrictions can be fixed by simply replacing the restricted parts or by running a high pressure coolant flush on vehicles. If there are no hot spots, then that means the problem must be in the coolant temperature sensor, or the PCM itself.
How to Fix
Repairs for this error code of course, depend on the cause and/or source of the problem, which of course, is determined from a thorough diagnosis. Here are some of the most common repairs for this code:
- Repair coolant leaks; repair problematic parts that are leaking, especially the radiator, radiator hoses, heater hoses, thermostat, thermostat housing, water pump, head gasket or heater core.
- Replace coolant temperature sensor
- Repair or replace faulty wiring associated with coolant temperature sensor
- Repair wiring associated with faulty electric cooling fan
- Repair damaged fan clutch or electric cooling fan
- Run high pressure coolant flush on the vehicle
- Replace PCM
Error Code P0217 is a pretty serious error code. If stored for too long in the power train, it can hamper the vehicle’s operation. Also, overheating can lead to engine failure, which can result to serious engine damage. Act as soon as you experience this problem to fix the issue and keep the vehicle from further damage.