P1361 is a vehicle-specific code in many Honda and Acura cars, and according to the manufacturer’s TSB, is described as Top Dead Center (TDC) interruption-related camshaft and other sensors. It is caused by excessive end play in the camshaft of your vehicle.
- What Does It Mean?
- How to Diagnose
- How to Fix
- Can You Drive With a P1361 Code?
This article looks at the meaning, causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and fixes for the P1361 in your Honda Civic.
What Does It Mean?
The P1361 trouble code suggests a Top dead Center Sensor 1 Intermittent Interruption. It indicates a fault in your vehicle’s Top Dead Center (TDC) sensor and excessive end playing the camshaft exceeding 0.02 inch.
Before discussing the code’s impact, you must first understand what the TDC is and its function in your vehicle.
The Top dead center is a section of the piston closest to the crankshaft. It is where the firing timing is set for every aspect of the piston.
To determine the firing timing, the TDC uses a sensor. The sensor communicates with the Powertrain Control Module (PCM) by sending signals; in turn, the PCM will send alerts, determining when the firing will occur.
When there is an issue with the sensor, the PCM cannot judge when the firing should happen, so it will throw the P1361 trouble code.
The resultant effect of this fault is engine misfiring. This code should be dealt with urgently, as it affects the car’s overall performance and might result in premature wear for other engine components.
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Many signs accompany the code P1361 to let you know the TDC sensor is faulty. Here are some of the most common ones:
1. Engine misfires or runs rough
Engine misfire is a primary symptom of a faulty TDC sensor. The PCM cannot judge when to fire the engine correctly.
In this case, the PCM is not receiving the correct signal, and the piston’s firing timing is wrong. It causes the engine to have severe issues while running. In some extreme cases, the engine will not run at all.
Usually, when the TDC sensor is not working as it should, the motor will automatically shut down after ignition. Sometimes, this feature does not work, and the engine runs rough.
2. Failure to start the engine
The TDC sensor plays a significant role in the ignition process; once the sensor is not functioning as intended, the process will get disrupted.
Furthermore, the combustion system requires accurate ignition timing to allow the cylinders to function. Hence, it may not come on when the TDC sensor is not working.
The PCM will allow the automatic shut off of the ignition process to avoid further damage to the engine’s components.
In some cases, the engine will crank, but there will be no spark, while others may not crank at all.
3. Check engine light
Another common symptom of the P1361 is a triggered check engine light. When the light is triggered, it shows that there is something wrong with the engine functioning.
In addition, the PCM monitors every aspect of the engine through sensors. When PCM cannot communicate with sensors like the TDC sensor, it triggers the warning light, accompanied by a code during diagnosis.
4. Poor engine performance & MPG
When the TDC sensor is not working, it will fail to deliver the proper signal to the PCM. It could cause inaccurate firing timing and allow the spark to get to the wrong cylinder. The engine will perform poorly when running, and power will drop significantly. Furthermore, you will notice a severe drop in your MPG.
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There are a lot of reasons that could trigger the P1361 trouble code. Some of the causes include the following:
01. Poor electrical connection
One major cause of the trouble code is a disruption in the connection between the sensor and the PCM. It could result from damaged electric components related to the TDC sensor or PCM. This is probably the most common cause and the cheapest to fix.
02. Damaged TDC sensor
Unfortunately, like every other electronic component, the TDC sensor is prone to damage. Once the TDC sensor is damaged, it will trigger the code.
Many factors can cause the TDC sensor to get damaged, including corrosion, heat from the engine, cracks, and wear and tear. Replacing a faulty TDC sensor can be done for less than $500 at the dealership and around $300 by a local indy.
03. Short or open sensor harness
Another cause of the P1361 code is a damaged sensor harness. The harness is the wiring that connects the sensor to the PCM.
An opening or broken harness will cause a complete disconnection between the PCM and TDC sensor. The cost of fixing a short in the wiring harness will depend on how long it takes to locate the problem. Replacing the entire wiring harness will cost between $2,000 and $2,500. However, there are cheaper alternatives.
04. Defective PCM
When your PCM becomes defective, it cannot interpret the signals from the sensors. It will not be able to monitor significant parts of the engine properly and ensure they are working correctly. Replacing a PCM is not cheap.
While the labor will set you back between $100-$200, the part will cost around $1,000. You can look for a used module, but we all know the risks that come with replacing a defective component with a used one.
How to Diagnose
Firstly, remove the valve cover and visually inspect the camshaft for excessive end play. A maximum end play of 0.02 inch is allowed. If the end play is 0.02 inches, then you can move to the fix section of the article.
If there is excessive play, then you may proceed to plug in a scan tool to scan the vehicle for the P1261 code. Ensure there is no stored code before you carry out the scan.
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How to Fix
Honda recommends that the cylinder head assembly be replaced to resolve the code. Neglecting the trouble code can cause further damage to the engine and the overall performance of your vehicle.
Replacing the TDC sensor could also resolve the issue if the sensor was already damaged.
You should follow the steps listed below to fix the P1361 code in your Honda vehicle.
- Remove the cylinder head and discard it
- Physically examined the TDC sensor and timing belt cover for cracks or other damages. Replace the damaged components
- Replace the old cylinder head with a new one
- Check and fill the oil level
- Carry out an idle learn procedure on your vehicle
Can You Drive With a P1361 Code?
As engine misfiring and even stalling are two common symptoms of this trouble code, I do not recommend attempting to drive the car under any circumstances. You risk causing further damage to the engine, which will surely result in a greater repair bill.
If the symptoms have only started showing and the misfire is not that bad, you may be able to drive the car to your nearest repair garage and have a professional mechanic check the vehicle.
If the car has developed a hard start already, you might want to consider a mobile mechanic or a tow truck.
The PCM sets the code P1361 to indicate that your TDC sensor or its connection is faulty. This problem comes with many symptoms like rough idling and difficulty in engine start. These symptoms make driving your vehicle hard and, in most cases, impossible.
It is crucial that the code is taken seriously and fixed immediately to avoid further damage to the engine. Fixing a P1361 trouble code will require expert knowledge and tools; hence it will be impossible to repair by a DIY-er.
Mark is a senior editor for Mechanic Ask, creating tech-focused articles about diagnostics, tools, and new auto servicing methods. He attends industry shows to stay current. With a mechanical engineering degree, Mark is able to translate complex technical details into explanations understandable for shop owners and technicians. His articles help shops improve processes, reduce costs, and boost productivity.