What Does the Engine Code P3401 Mean?

If your car shows the P3401 engine code, it is detecting that the intake control valve for cylinder number 1 is malfunctioning.
Written by Maxine Boyko
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
If your car displays the P3401 engine code, it has detected that the intake control valve for cylinder number 1 is not turning on or off when it should. It’s important to immediately begin repairs to halt the problem from worsening and prevent possible damage to the engine. 
Your vehicle can report self-diagnostic information through OBD-II fault codes. When a vehicle’s onboard diagnostics (OBD) identifies an issue, it will turn on your engine light and provide diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs). With an OBD-II code reader, you can access this data. 
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What does the engine code P3401 mean?

Definition: Cylinder 1 Deactivation/Intake Valve Control Circuit/Open
Engine code P3401 means that the engine control module (ECM) has detected that the intake valve of cylinder 1 is not turning on or off properly
Further, this can imply the intake control solenoid—which controls the position of the exhaust valve—for cylinder 1 is shorted, open, or has a high resistance.
The engine in your car generally contains between four and six cylinders containing intake and exhaust valves. These valves open and close in a particular order to combust fuel and generate power.
If something is functioning at its peak level of performance, you might say it is “firing on all cylinders.” Cylinder deactivation processes are designed to prevent firing on all cylinders in certain driving situations—such as idling and highway driving—as a method for maximizing fuel efficiency.

How much will it cost to fix?

The cost of diagnosing the P3401 at a shop will require one hour of labor, for which most repair shops will charge between $75 and $150
Replacing a cylinder solenoid can take 2 to 4 hours of labor. The cost of the part will cost you between $15 and $100
If the ECM needs to be replaced, the average cost for the service ranges from around $900 to $1,000.

What can cause the P3401 engine code?

A P3401 engine code can have a few causes, which the ECM will detect if the actual measured values from all of the sensors are not within the range of the calculated values that indicate cylinder deactivation mode. This can typically be attributed to the following causes: 
  • Low oil pressure or flow 
  • Restricted oil passage
  • A mechanical condition of the engine 
  • Cylinder deactivation solenoid 
  • Cylinder deactivation solenoid harness is open or shorted 
  • Cylinder deactivation solenoid circuit with poor electrical connection
Another more serious possibility that can present similar symptoms is powertrain control module (PCM) failure.

Common symptoms of the P3401 engine code

One of the most obvious symptoms of a P3401 engine code is the check engine light turning on. Other symptoms of decreased performance that could indicate a P3401 engine code are: 
  • Increased fuel consumption
  • Poor engine performance
  • Service engine soon light turns on

How serious is the P3401 engine code? 

The severity of the P3401 engine code can range from moderate to severe depending on the level of malfunction. 
A misfire requires prompt attention because it can cause permanent damage to internal engine components

Can I fix the P3401 engine code myself?

While it’s possible to fix the P3401 engine code on your own, it’s a pretty difficult repair. You could make troubleshooting mistakes that lead to more problems.
You’ll need to have a proficient level of mechanical repair skills in the event that you need to:
  • Replace the deactivation solenoid
  • Clean corrosion from connectors
  • Perform voltage checks
  • Replace or repair faulty wiring
  • Flashing or replacing the ECM
If you’re not confident in your ability to perform these sorts of repairs, the best thing you can do is take your car to a professional. They will have all the technology, expertise, and mechanical can-do to get your car back into normal—or even better—operating condition.
MORE: How to know if a mechanic is taking too long with car repairs

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