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Troubleshooting Vehicle Fault Codes By Patterns

Troubleshooting Fault Codes By Patterns
Author: Tony Partheniou, Senior Embedded Systems Engineer

When it comes to engine data, there isn’t much information provided in a vehicle aside from the dreaded yellow check engine light. This is an area where it is important to act quickly to identify the problem and severity, as some fault codes can lead to driveability issues or poor fuel economy. With MyGeotab, however, you can quickly view all of the fault codes and descriptions for vehicles in your fleet in a consolidated view. This allows one to observe patterns and identify if there are vehicles of the same make, model, and year that are reporting the same fault code.

Troubleshooting Fault Codes By Patterns

Known Issues Reported by Vehicle Manufacturers
If you discover many vehicles of the same make, model and year with the same fault code, you should be suspicious about whether there is a known issue with the vehicle that has already been addressed by the manufacturer. You may have purchased the vehicle in used condition, in which case you may not have registered with your local dealer to receive notifications about technical service bulletins. In addition to registering your vehicle, you should also check http://www.safercar.gov/ to read about the known safety-related issues identified by the manufacturer.

Most Common Fault Codes Reported By Common Fleet Vehicles
The top ten fault codes reported by common fleet vehicles equipped with Geotab devices are listed in the table below. Each row represents a large sample size of 400 installations or more, in order to ensure accurate representation of a pattern. It is interesting to note that the same fault codes appear multiple times in the list. It is not uncommon for manufacturers to use the same sub-system design in consecutive model years.

Troubleshooting Fault Codes By Patterns

2012 Chevrolet Sonic – P0171 – System Too Lean – Bank 1
P0171 fault code is currently being reported in 18% of 2012 Chevrolet Sonic vehicles equipped with Geotab devices. That’s nearly 1 in every 5 vehicles reporting the same issue! The solution to this fault code may be surprisingly easy according to the following article published in GMTechLink. As a next step, you should ask your mechanic to make sure that the oil fill cap is installed properly and that the oil dipstick is correctly seated.

Troubleshooting Fault Codes By Patterns

2012 & 2013 Chevrolet Sonic – P0597 – Thermostat Heater Control Circuit/Open
P0597 fault code is currently being reported in 18% of 2013 Chevrolet Sonic vehicles and 6% of 2012 Chevrolet Sonic vehicles equipped with Geotab devices. The description indicates that a component of the thermostat is not working correctly. Let the experts at your dealership handle this one since there is a good chance that the vehicle is still under warranty. Don’t wait too long to visit your dealer, or your warranty may expire! The following comment from ChevroletForum.com looks promising:

“It was the thermostat. Dealer fixed it for no charge.”1

2008, 2010 & 2011 Chevrolet Express , 2008 Chevrolet Silverado – P0573 – Brake Switch “A” Circuit High
P0573 fault code has been reported in the following vehicles with Geotab devices:

  • 16 % of 2008 Chevrolet Silverado
  • 15 % of 2008 Chevrolet Express
  • 10 % of 2010 Chevrolet Express
  • 7 % of 2011 Chevrolet Express

Unfortunately, there is not much information available regarding the Chevrolet Express vehicles or the 2008 Chevrolet Silverado. However, one symptom of P0573 is intermittent issues with cruise control.

2009 & 2010 Ford F150, 2010 Ford Econoline – P0150 – O2 Sensor Circuit
P0150 fault code has been reported in the following vehicles with Geotab devices:

  • 15 % of 2009 Ford F150
  • 10 % of 2010 Ford F150
  • 7 % of 2010 Ford Econoline

The technical service bulletins listed below indicate a software update for the Powertrain Control Module, which may resolve the issue.

  • 2009-2010 Ford F-150 – See TSB 12-6-16
  • 2009-2011 Ford E-Series – See TSB 12-6-13

Additional Notes
The information used in this post represents vehicles that are currently installed with a Geotab device and are experiencing this issue. It is possible that a greater number of vehicles have experienced this issue but have since been fixed. It is also possible that the users are not aware of the technical service bulletins for their vehicle or have decided to accept the fault code due to low priority. The latter option may have consequences, such as increased fuel usage.

It is important to note that the fault code definitions listed above do not translate to a single problem. While the suggestions listed may be helpful for some users, there are many system components in an automobile and therefore many types of failures that can lead to the same symptom or fault code. The solutions mentioned should be treated as a starting point, rather than the complete solution for the fault code. When you see a vehicle warning light, it is important to have your vehicle serviced by a certified mechanic to ensure that the work is performed properly.
Leave a comment below if you have used the information in this post to help diagnose a vehicle issue with fault codes P0171, P0597, P0573 or P0150. The information you provide can assist other users who encounter these fault codes.

Jeffro80. (2014, July 31). Thermostat Problems (P0597). Retrieved from Chevrolet Forum: http://chevroletforum.com/forum/sonic-aveo-11/thermostat-problems-p0597-64066/#post270235


  • Posted July 1, 2018 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    My daughter has a 2012 Chevy Sonic showing “Code 82”. Have seen some blogs say it means to change oil soon but others say something else. Any clues?

    • Posted July 10, 2018 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

      The information you are looking for can be found in the 2012 Chevy Sonic owner’s manual which is also available online. Please look up the manual and search “Code 82” for details and instructions.

  • Posted May 15, 2016 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

    I like what you guys tend to be up too. This type of clever work
    and reporting! Keep up the superb works guys I’ve added you guys to

    • Posted May 17, 2016 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

      Thank you very much for your comment Timothy. What other topics are you interested in learning about? We will be sure to keep this in mind for future articles.

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