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Code P0480. Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis and Solution

The P0480 code is a relatively common OBDII DTC. This code shows us that there is a fault with fan 1 of your car’s cooling system. It is a generic code, so it has the same meaning for any car.

While driving, a sufficient amount of air passes through the radiator, which cools the engine effectively. When the car is not running, no air will pass through the radiator.

This is where the purpose of fans comes into play: to provide ample cooling for both the radiator and engine to prevent them from overheating.

Cooling Fan Operation

The PCM powertrain control module, detects this temperature increase through the coolant temperature sensor.

If the temperature reaches above approximately 106°C, the PCM automatically commands the cooling fan relay to turn on the fan by supplying ground to the relay.

This value of 106°C depends on the make, model, or engine of the vehicle. In some cases, it is 90°C, and in others 110°C.

If there is any problem within the circuit that causes the fan to fail, the motor will heat up and cause it to overheat. This can happen whether the vehicle is stationary or if you are driving at low speed.

The electric cooling fan is controlled by the powertrain control module (PCM) through the cooling fan relay based on inputs from the following components:

  • The ECT temperature sensor.
  • The intake air temperature (IAT) sensor.
  • The air conditioning selector switch.
  • The air conditioning refrigerant pressure sensor.
  • The vehicle speed sensor (VSS).

The PCM controls the cooling fan by grounding the cooling fan control circuit, which turns on the cooling fan relay.

The fan relay activates automatically when the following is true:

  • The engine coolant temperature reaches 106°C or more.
  • The air conditioning is activated.
  • The vehicle speed is less than 60 kph.

You may also be interested in Code P0456. Causes, Symptoms and How to Diagnose It

What is the P0480 code?

The P0480 code is defined as a malfunction of the cooling fan control circuit 1. Modern vehicles are equipped with electric cooling fans.

These fans are activated by the PCM (powertrain control module) every time the car reaches a certain temperature. One or both fans (if equipped) will also turn on when the air conditioner is running.

If the PCM commands cooling fan 1 to turn on, but there is an error, code P0480 will be stored in the PCM memory. This occurs if the fan is not responding or if the PCM detects a serious fault in the control circuit.

Basically, error code P0480 It means that the cooling fan 1 control circuit has experienced a problem that causes it to malfunction.

The vehicle’s PCM controls the cooling fans, and the moment it determines that the fans are not working properly, it triggers the code and illuminates the Check Engine light.

Error code P0480 refers to the basic circuit and its related codes, error code P0481, and error code P0482, which relate to a similar problem, but are specific to different fan speed relays.

Symptoms of Code P0480

When the P0480 code is activated, the system is indicating that there is a problem with the cooling fan. In turn, you will see the “Check Engine” light activated on your dashboard.

Of course, you will be able to see all the symptoms related to the high temperature generated by the malfunctioning fan. Among these, we can name:

  • Check Engine light is activated.
  • Engine overheating.
  • The air conditioning does not cool.
  • Coolant leak from the cover.
  • In severe cases, the engine shut down due to high temperature.

This fault does not directly affect the driving of the car. The fan will not affect the way the engine runs unless it starts to overheat, something you should avoid at all costs. If it overheats, the engine may start to knock, misfire, or smoke.

As noted above, driving your car without a working fan can cause it to overheat, especially if you are driving on a hot day or in heavy traffic. It can also cause the air conditioner to stop working properly.

You should keep an eye on the temperature gauge and fix the P0480 code as soon as possible. Once it starts to overheat, it can blow a head gasket, and that requires a much more expensive repair.

Causes of Code P0480

These are the probable causes of the P0480 code. The problem with this code is that there are many potential causes. Here, we list a few.

  • Defective fan control relay 1.
  • Defective cooling fan.
  • Fan control relay harness open or shorted.
  • Fan cooling fan harness open or shorted.
  • Poor electrical connections in the cooling fan circuit.
  • Faulty coolant temperature sensor.
  • IAT (intake air temperature) failure.
  • Defective VSS (vehicle speed sensor).
  • Blown fuses.

How to Diagnose the P0480 Code

Error code P0480 It is defined as a failure in the cooling fan 1 control circuit. This causes the fan to fail and allows the engine to overheat. This is something you should avoid at all costs.

Therefore, you must make a diagnosis as soon as possible. Below are the steps you can take in this regard.

1. Scan your car

To diagnose this error code, an OBD2 scan tool must be used to check if any codes are present in the PCM.

It also makes note of freeze frame data that shows the vehicle conditions when the code was set, such as RPM, vehicle speed, and coolant temperature.

2. Check other codes

Cross-referencing other codes can help you gain valuable information. For example, if you get a code related to the engine coolant temperature sensor, repairing it can clear P0480.

3. Take a test drive

Clear all codes and then take the vehicle for a test drive, to duplicate the conditions when the code was set. You should always monitor the car’s temperature while driving with this code, so as not to risk overheating.

4. Inspect cooling fan 1

If the code came back after the test drive, you should check the cooling fan. Disconnect the battery. You don’t want the fan to spin, which could happen if you try to spin it and the vehicle is hot.

If your particular car has two fans, the one NOT in front of the air conditioning is almost always fan 1.

You are going to spin the fan to see if it is blocked or damaged. Make sure the engine is cold or the battery is disconnected before turning it over. The fans may come on without warning when the engine is hot.

If the fan requires effort to rotate, then it is damaged. In this case, you must replace it.

5. Inspect the wiring harness on the fan

If the fan spins fine, check the wiring harness that connects it. The fan wiring can be damaged by road debris that is stepped on and kicked up from under the vehicle.

Make sure the terminals are securely connected to the fan and are not damaged. Check that the pins are straight and free of corrosion.

6. Inspect the fan relay and fuses

Now that we’ve verified that nothing obvious is causing the P0480 code, it’s time to take a look at the fan relay.

Before doing so, inspect the fan relay fuses to make sure they have not blown. You can do this visually. Check the power going to the fan relay.

Now it’s time to take a look at the fan 1 relay itself. You can test it with a multimeter. If there is no power to the relay, you will need to find where the short is.

7. Check the VSS sensor with the scanner

Use the scan tool to verify the data flow and confirm that the VSS sensor has the correct readings, and if the coolant temperature sensor is reading accurately.

Then test the fan control relay using a proven relay, or change the relay using a good relay to test. Next, check that the air conditioning pressure switch is working properly and is within specifications.

Common Errors When Diagnosing Code P0480

The most common mistake people make when dealing with this error code is skipping diagnostic steps. There are many system elements involved in this error code, so it is crucial to identify which component is causing the problem.

The last thing you want is to replace perfectly functioning components.

How to Fix Code P0480

Repairs for this error code are quite simple and straightforward and can of course stem from a thorough diagnosis. Some of the common repairs are:

  • Replacing the cooling fan 1.
  • Air conditioning pressure sensor switch replacement.
  • Repair of fan electrical connection problems.
  • Replacing the fan control relay.
  • VSS Sensor Replacement
  • Fan wiring repair.
  • Engine coolant temperature sensor replacement.

Is Code P0480 Serious?

Yes, this code is very serious. Any failure that affects your engine’s cooling system should be considered serious. You don’t want your car to overheat, risking catastrophic and costly engine failure.

Although it will not directly affect the car’s handling upon appearance, as the temperature increases, you are at greater risk of a serious failure. It is recommended that you take your car to a service workshop as soon as possible.

Many times, this fault is solved by changing a relay or a fuse, so it would be very cheap compared to driving in these conditions and burning out the engine.


You may also be interested in Code P0463. Causes, Symptoms and How to Fix It

The P0480 code is usually caused by a faulty fan or a faulty fan relay. It is one of the codes that you can quickly locate since only elements of this system are involved.

If you want to know other articles similar to Code P0480. Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, and Solution you can visit the category Fault Codes.


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