P0881 code definition
The P0881 trouble code detects a problem with the traction control module power input signal.
What the P0881 code means
The P0881 code is a generic OBD-II trouble code that suggests a problem with the traction control module communication circuit. The traction control module (TCM) communication circuit is responsible for sending data to the powertrain control module (PCM) and other control modules about the traction control system and usage. The PCM and the other control modules take that information into account when calculating things such as the optimal engine timing and the right fuel delivery strategy. When the PCM or any of the other control modules stop receiving data from the traction control module communication circuit, then the P0881 trouble code is detected.
What causes the P0881 code?
The P0881 trouble code is usually caused by a malfunctioning ON/OFF switch in the traction control system, which is often caused by spills on the switch. Other possible causes are damaged electrical connectors, such as shorted wires, open connectors or circuits, and blown fuses, and corrosion on the sensor connector.
What are the symptoms of the P0881 code?
The P0881 trouble code is usually accompanied by the check engine soon warning light illuminating on the dashboard. It is also likely that the traction control system will not function, and the vehicle may lose traction on wet or icy roads. The P0881 code can also impact the transmission, resulting in harsh shifting, or even an inability to shift. Reduced fuel efficiency is also a common symptom of the code.
How does a mechanic diagnose the P0881 code?
The P0881 code will be diagnosed using a standard OBD-II trouble code scanner. A trustworthy mechanic will use the scanner to view the freeze frame data and assess the P0881 code, while also looking for any additional trouble codes that are present. The trouble codes should then be reset and the vehicle should be restarted, to see if the code returns or not. If the code does not return, it was likely an intermittent issue, or falsely detected.
If the P0881 code does return, the mechanic should start by visually inspecting the electrical components of the traction control system. Any loose, short, or damaged wires, damaged or open circuits or connectors, or blown fuses should be replaced.
The mechanic should then check the traction control ON/OFF switch, as this is the most likely culprit. If the switch is not damaged, a controller area network (CAN) scanner can be used to obtain further data about the traction control module, to see exactly where the issue is coming from.
When any faulty component is spotted, it should be replaced before further inspection. After replacement, the trouble codes should be reset and the vehicle restarted before the mechanic proceeds any further. This ensure that no erroneous work or repairs will be done.
Common mistakes when diagnosing the P0881 code
The most common mistake made when diagnosing the P0881 code comes from a failure to adhere to the OBD-II trouble code diagnosis protocol. The protocol should always be followed step by step, to make sure that inspections and repairs are both thorough and efficient.
How serious is the P0881 code?
A vehicle with a detected P0881 trouble code is still drivable. However, the traction control system will likely be disabled, meaning that the car will be liable to lose grip with the road when road conditions are at all slippery. The P0881 code can also cause transmission issues, and when unattended serious damage can ultimately occur. For these reasons, the P0881 code should be addressed as soon as possible.
What repairs can fix the P0881 code?
Repairs for the P0881 include:
- Replacing the traction control ON/OFF switch
- Replacing wires, fuses, connectors, and circuits in the traction control system
- Replacing the sensor connector
Additional comments for consideration regarding the P0881 code
The P0881 trouble code only applies to vehicles that have an electronic traction control system.
Need help with a P0881 code?
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This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as P0881 OBD-II Trouble Code: Traction Control Module (TCM) Power Input Signal Range/Performance and was authored by Brady Klopfer.