What does P0401 code mean? Find what causes it and learn how to fix this check engine code from a mechanic who has done it countless times.
This trouble code "insufficient EGR flow" means that there is not enough exhaust gasses flowing back into the incoming air to the engine. EGR stands for "exhaust gas recirculation". The EGR system consist of three parts: EGR valve, DPFE (differential pressure sensor EGR) and actuator solenoid.
Car manufacturers created this system so already burned exhaust gas can flow back into the engine (when the EGR valve is open) and lower the combustion temperatures. This helps reduce emissions.
This OBD code basically means that the cars computer has tried to open the EGR valve, but it cannot get enough exhaust gas into the engine. EGR systems used to be controlled by engine vacuum via hoses and valves. Now most of them are controlled by electrical solenoids.
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Each car manufacturer has their own EGR system design but the most likely two causes of this code are the valve itself or passageways (many times the intake manifold will have very small passageways that get clogged with soot) that the exhaust gasses pass through.
Many times this code is caused by clogged EGR passages, and sometimes removing the sensor will give you access to the clogged EGR passages.
Another thing that you can do yourself is to check all vacuum hoses and all wiring going to the EGR valve. You might find a hose with a hole in it or you could find a connector that is not seated all the way or some wiring that has been rubbed through.
This fault code is a tougher one for a DIY mechanic to diagnose unless you have good experience and some specialized tools. Many times this code will go away if you replace the EGR valve (but not always). If you lack the skills or patience to diagnose this problem, you can consider giving it a shot and just replace the EGR valve.
If you still have any unresolved vehicle problems or questions, you can ask an auto mechanic online. For expert answers specific to your vehicle's make and model, I recommend JustAnswer Car. They have a large pool of certified mechanics to answer your questions for a small fee and you can also browse their answers to other users for free.