What Does the Engine Code P0500 Mean?

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A P0500 engine code means that your engine control module (ECM) is receiving either incorrect or no signals from the vehicle speed sensor (VSS). Since so many systems rely on accurate speed data to function correctly, you need to get your car inspected by a professional mechanic as soon as possible.
Diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs)—commonly known as engine codes—are how your car lets you or a mechanic know that there’s an issue with one of its systems. You need an OBD-II code reader to access your car’s DTCs, which is why mechanics are normally the only ones that work with engine codes.
To find the source of your vehicle’s problem and begin the process of fixing it, you need to know the meaning behind the DTC being sent out. That’s why the car insurance broker app Jerry has put together this guide. With it, you’ll come to understand what your P0500 engine code means, what could be causing it, and how best to fix it.
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What does the engine code P0500 mean?

Definition: Vehicle speed sensor ‘A’
Engine code P0500 means there’s an issue with the readings being taken from the speed sensor on your transmission. The speed sensor is responsible for obtaining speed data and routing it to your ECM, speedometer, and other systems.
Without the speed sensor, you cannot rely on your speedometer for an accurate gauge of how fast you’re driving.

How much will it cost to fix?

A replacement speed sensor can cost anywhere from $15 to $35. However, a P0500 engine code doesn’t necessarily mean that the speed sensor is the problem. What’s causing the issue could be anything from the speed sensor to the wiring or the ECM.
To be sure the problem is being fixed correctly, you should take your vehicle to a trusted mechanic for a more accurate diagnosis. Since rates vary between auto shops, plan on paying for at least an hour of labor.
In total, your bill could be $90 to $185 or more depending on the exact part that needs replacing and the time it takes to install. 

What can cause the P0500 engine code?

A P0500 engine code is caused by no data or incorrect data being sent to the ECM from the VSS. A damaged or faulty speed sensor is normally to blame for this.
The VSS is attached to the transmission and records the power generated to determine how fast the car is traveling. This data is then routed to the ECM and displayed by the speedometer. 
The information collected by the VSS is also utilized by many other systems in the vehicle—both major and minor. Speed data is used for controlling the transmission in an automatic car, as well as dimming the interior lights or locking the doors when a certain speed is reached.
It’s important to note that a P0500 can be caused by any issue with the flow of speed data from the VSS—this is why it’s often so difficult to accurately diagnose this DTC. Some other possible causes of a P0500 engine code are:
  • VSS harness or connectors are open or shorted
  • VSS circuit has a poor electrical connection
  • A faulty engine control module (ECM)

Common symptoms of the P0500 engine code

The first sign of a P0500 engine code is often the check engine light coming on. This is due to the ECM receiving a near 0 mph signal from the VSS while being driven.
Other symptoms can be things such as:
  • Speedometer not working correctly
  • The automatic transmission has difficulty shifting
  • ABS performing poorly or not at all
  • Traction control not functioning or doing so when it shouldn’t

How serious is the P0500 engine code? 

You should take your car to a trusted mechanic as soon as you discover a DTC P0500.
A properly functioning speed sensor is critical for operating your vehicle safely. Without the information a speed sensor collects, your speedometer will not be able to accurately display how fast you driving. At best, that means you’re more likely to get a ticket for speeding. In the worst-case scenario, you could end up wrecking your car.

Can I fix the P0500 engine code myself?

Because correctly identifying the cause of a P0500 engine code is so difficult, you ought to take your vehicle to a professional mechanic. Though the fix could be as simple as replacing the old speed sensor, the problem could be in another system entirely—the wiring, circuit connections, or the ECM itself.

Inspecting the vehicle speed sensor

If you’re confident in your mechanical skills and want to inspect your VSS for a simple repair you can do at home, follow these steps:
  • Inspect the VSS wiring harness and connectors
  • Check for damaged or worn components
  • Look for connector’s pins that are broken, bent, pushed out, or corroded
If the engine code isn’t resolved by replacing any of the components listed above, take your vehicle to a mechanic right away.

Finding insurance for your vehicle

Diagnosing a P0500 DTC is a tough job, but finding cheap car insurance doesn’t have to be.
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