P0496 Code – What Does It Mean and How to Fix It

Man checking the car engine

A scan tool is a handy device to diagnose your car to detect potential malfunctions, even the ones that have no visible effect on your car’s performance. The code P0496 is one of those that shows there is a problem, and it doesn’t cause any detectable issues. Well, at least at first. However, thinking long-term, the malfunction may deteriorate your car’s efficiency and turn out to be expensive to fix. 

When P0496 code is triggered on your OBD-II device, it indicates high purge flow. Read on to learn what it means, the root of the problem, and ways to fix it. 

What Is the P0496 Code?

The code P0496 means the car’s evaporative emissions (EVAP) system is having trouble with purge flow. How do we know it? Let’s break it down:

  • P0XXX – the generic code that is followed by three digits specific to the source of a problem;
  • P04XX – The third digit indicates that there is something wrong with the car’s auxiliary emission controls;
  • P0496 – It is the code that alerts a driver that excessive amounts of emission are escaping the car. Literally, it reads “EVAP Flow During a Non-Purge Condition.”

The codes that start with P0 are generic, which means any car can have it. Unlike, for example, the P1326 code that is specific to cars by Hyundai and Kia. 

What Are the Symptoms of Code P0496?

Although there aren’t many visible symptoms caused by the malfunction, you will notice the indicator light, specifically the ‘Check Engine’ light

Other symptoms may also appear in time, including problems with starting the vehicle and the engine running rich. Ignoring the latter may lead to further problems related to the engine, which, as we know, are harder and costlier to repair. 

It’s important to note that spotting a rich-running engine will take time. And it can also have other causes, for instance, poor fuel economy or rough idling, and so on. 

However, the problem may lead to further complications like damaged catalytic converters and exhaust systems. As a result, the symptoms will not go unnoticed this time. The most visible change is the black smoke caused by unburnt fuel escaping through the tailpipes. 

What Are the Causes of the P0496 Engine Code?

When it comes to the culprit of the P0496 code, there may be a few:

  • Faulty purge, vent valve, or solenoid – most common problem
  • Vent valve stuck open
  • Failing canister purge valve
  • Poor electrical connections (broken, loose, or frayed)
  • Leaking EVAP system hose or charcoal canister 

Some causes you can check, exchange, and test yourself, saving labor costs. Other causes may be trickier to fix for inexperienced vehicle owners, especially when it comes to electrical connections. 

The most common problem is a faulty purge or vent valve. There are also two types of valves: mechanically and electronically-operated. The vacuum pressure prompts the mechanical valve to open and close. In contrast, solenoid valves react to voltage sent to them. 

Car makers like Hyundai, Mazda, and Kia may have other causes involved. For instance, vehicles manufactured by Hyundai may have an issue with a leaking EVAP system, while Mazda and Kia owners may encounter issues with a failed purge flow sensor. 

Can the Engine Code P0496 Be Ignored?

Car engine

Since there is no noticeable change, you may wrongly assume that it’s not a big deal. Unfortunately, ignoring the illuminated check engine light will lead to complications like a rich-running engine and difficulties with starting the car. 

It is best to address the problem before it starts causing other issues. As you leave it unattended, it may deteriorate the car’s performance until an immediate diagnosis is needed. 

The illuminated check lights are there for a reason, and this is to prevent future damage. 

Can I Keep Driving with the Code Still Present? 

P0496 is tricky because there is no visible damage being done to the operation of your vehicle. You will be bothered by the illuminated check engine light while driving. If your OBD-II device shows the P0496 code and is related to the EVAP system, it will soon lead to the other issues we’ve discussed before. 

Apart from complications with exhaust, emissions, and engine, new codes might appear. And it will make it difficult to identify the root of the problem when the car becomes undrivable. 

How to Fix the P0496 Code?

What driver hasn’t asked themself, “How do I fix the code?” to save up costs and time. Fortunately, there is something you can do, but if it doesn’t solve the problem, you should use the help of a local mechanic. 

Here is what you can do without having mechanical expertise:

  1. Plug your OBD-II device to clear out the code. 
  2. Go for a short drive to see if the check light reappears. 
  3. If the check engine light is back on, plug the OBD-II reader and diagnose your vehicle again. 
  4. See whether the P0496 code is back again or whether there may be another issue. 
  5. If the code P0496 is shown again, it is time to troubleshoot the problem. Turn off your engine and remove the keys from the ignition
    • Make sure the gas cap is tightened.
    • Investigate the charcoal vapor canister. Typical signs that something is amiss are fuel smell odor, excessive smoke from the exhaust, or failed emission test. 
    • Check the wiring leading into the canister. The electrical connections may be frayed, damaged, or loose. 

Conclusion

Any time you see a check engine light, and your scan tool shows your car has the P0496 code, it means something makes emissions escape your car. Though it may not reduce the efficiency of your car, it will pollute the environment, even when the car is not running.  

Some drivers may disregard the check engine light since it doesn’t make any noticeable changes to the vehicle – however, excessive pollution and possibly failing purge valve may have its long-term consequences. 

Fixing the source of the problem isn’t too costly, and repairing it in a timely manner is always recommended, as with any other malfunction. Otherwise, one problem will lead to another and to another, making it more difficult to pinpoint the initial source of the issue. 

Check out our review of the top OBD-II scanners so that the next time you see a check or warning light, you know exactly what is causing it. 

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