What Does the Engine Code P0501 Mean?

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If you detect engine code P0501, your car’s speed sensor is out of range of its engine. But that doesn’t mean it's far away. Rather, some kind of wiring problem is likely interrupting the signal from the speed sensor to your car’s engine control module. 
Diagnostic trouble codes (or DTCs) are handy identifiers of specific issues in your vehicle’s engine. You probably know your car pretty well and can tell when something is wrong; however, a DTC can help you identify that problem quickly and take you one step closer to fixing things. 
The issue is that there are a lot of engine codes, and all of those different number sequences can get confusing. That’s why car insurance app Jerry is putting together guides on the most common engine codes. Here’s everything you need to know about P0501.
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What does the engine code P0501 mean?

Definition: Vehicle speed sensor 'A' range/performance problem
A P0501 code tells you that there’s an issue with your car’s main speed sensor. Basically, the speed sensor keeps track of your car’s speed and sends it to the main computer, which displays it on your speedometer. A P0501 notes that there is a problem with the sensor. Usually, there’s a wiring problem that is leading to a poor connection between the sensor and ECM. 

How much will it cost to fix? 

The good news is that if you’re able to pick up the code correctly, a speed sensor issue is fairly simple to sort out. Most mechanics will probably charge you about one hour’s worth of labor costs—which vary depending on where you go. As for the cost of the part, it depends on what car you own. You shouldn’t expect to pay more than $150, though. 

What can cause the P0501 engine code?

A P0501 code usually shows up in response to a loss of signal to the speed sensor. 
Usually, it’s a wiring problem. The speed sensor relies on a complicated-looking wiring harness to send its signals to the car’s main computer. When that harness is broken or disconnected, signal strength can weaken or not send at all. In those situations, the speed sensor will read as “out of range.”
But that’s not the only potential problem. Sometimes, there could be a problem with the sensor itself. They tend to run fairly well, but speed sensors can wear out over time and tend to need replacing after 30,000 miles of usage. There’s also a chance that the engine control module itself is broken, although that’s a rarer occurrence.

Common symptoms of the P0501 engine code

The first sign that something might be wrong with your speed sensor is a telltale engine warning light. However, that doesn’t offer too much specificity. Indeed, there are other signs you might pick up on that suggest something is amiss with your speed sensor, such as: 
  • The speedometer may not work properly 
  • Transmission shifting problem
Some modern vehicles are equipped with fail-safe mechanisms that won’t allow the car to start if there’s a problem. While staying static might speak to ignition failure, it’s also possible that the speed sensor is having trouble. Either way, it’s important to take your car to a mechanic as soon as something looks—or feels—wrong. Engine issues aren’t to be taken too lightly.

How serious is the P0501 engine code? 

P0501 codes don’t present an immediate danger to you or your passengers. Your car will likely still run fine, although your car may shift gears awkwardly. 
That doesn’t mean you should ignore it, though. One of the most common symptoms of a P0501 is a broken speedometer. And if you don’t know how fast you’re going, you could put other vehicles in danger or get yourself into some legal trouble. 

Can I fix the P0501 engine code myself?

DTCs are excellent tools for identifying issues in your car. Be warned, though. Just because you know what the problem is doesn’t mean you’re equipped to solve it. Unless you’re a professionally trained mechanic, you should probably leave the repairs to someone who does them for a living. 
That said, you can expedite the fixing process by using your DTC to identify the specific problem. Though a mechanic will do their due diligence and run further tests to check if there are any other major issues, giving them a head start is always helpful. 

Finding insurance for your vehicle 

Once you’ve taken care of your P0501 code, you can hit the road safely. But you shouldn’t pull out of your driveway without the best car insurance possible. You may be happy with your current rate, but we think you could be saving more money.  
Try out the Jerry app to see how much money you can slash from your monthly payments. A licensed broker, Jerry will scan quotes from over 50 top insurance companies and find the best deal for you. In less than 60 seconds, you’ll see quotes from State Farm, Progressive, GEICO, and more! 
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