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Mazda 3 P0506: Idle Air Control – RPM lower than expected

 

P0506 It is a common OBDII fault code. It is usually activated when the engine idle speed is lower than the limit predetermined by the manufacturer.

P0506 Mazda 3

It is a generic code, which means it has the same meaning for the Mazda 3 as any other vehicle.

P0506 Symptoms: 3

Most of the time, P0506 is noticeable while driving. These are the typical symptoms of 3:

  • Quick service engine light– The reason you are here.
  • Reduce idle speed– Assuming the code was thrown due to a legitimate problem, you should notice that the engine runs slower when you don’t step on the accelerator.
  • Stagnation– The idle speed may be too slow for the car to run without depressing the accelerator pedal.

Mazda 3 P0506 Causes and diagnosis

There are many potential causes for P0506. Although the code specifically mentions the “Idle Air Control System,” it would be a mistake to simply go and replace the idle air control valve without a little diligence. It is not always the cause of the code.

Below we present some of the most common causes of P0506 in the Mazda 3, as well as how to solve them. Please note that there are differences in model years. It would be a good idea to start by looking for a vacuum leak and move forward from there.

vacuum leak

A leak in the vacuum system usually causes the 3 to slow down more. When the vacuum system leaks, the air balance in the combustion chamber is disturbed.

How to find a vacuum leak in a vehicle (Popular Mechanics(Article)
How to Find a Vacuum Leak in a Minute (2CarPros, YouTube)

A vacuum leak can come from a bad vacuum hose the intake manifold, the EGR system or anywhere else air passes through. However, it is not difficult to find a vacuum leak. Use the resources above and you will find it in the blink of an eye.

Idle air control valve

Most modern injection engines are equipped with an idle air control valve. However, not all of them are. If you have determined that you do not have a vacuum leak, the IAC is a good second place to troubleshoot P0506. Idle air control valves are relatively affordable.

P0506 Diagnostic 3
A typical idle air control valve

How to Diagnose an IAC Valve (Autozone Guides)

throttle body

A throttle body opens and closes millions of times in the life of a vehicle. All the air passing through it can cause dirt to slowly build up. This dirt can change the idling characteristics of the vehicle. When it’s dirty, you’ll often feel like the vehicle almost stalls before the computer compensates and opens it up a little more.

A typical throttle body

On the other hand, if the throttle body is damaged, it may not regulate airflow properly, and the code may appear.

Signs that the throttle body is going bad and what to do (Repair Pal)
How to tell if your throttle body is dirty or bad (YouTube Auto Repair, Youtube)

Intake and/or exhaust blocked

There may be a problem with the catalyst, or a clogged intake manifold that can cause the idle to drop and throw P0506.

Conclusion

P0506 is a serious problem. Due to the insecurity of driving with an engine that can stall at any moment, we recommend that you take your 3 to technical service as soon as possible. Good luck!

 

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