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Code P0353 (Definition, Causes, Fixes)

August 6, 2021

What is the P0353 code? 

And if your car has it, can you still drive safely?

In this article, we’ll go through everything you need to know about the P0353 code — what it means, its symptoms, and an easy, reliable solution.

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Let’s dive in.

What Is The P0353 Code?

The P0353 diagnostic trouble code (DTC) is defined as “Ignition Coil C Primary/Secondary Circuit Malfunction.” 

It’s an OBD-II generic trouble code indicating a fault with ignition coil C, or the coil circuit. Ignition coil C is coil number 3 — located on engine cylinder #3. 

Note: A generic DTC indicates the same issue for any vehicle that utilizes an OBD-II system, but specific repair steps may depend on the make and model of the vehicle. Your mechanic may need to refer to the vehicle service manual and wiring diagram to perform repairs.

What Does Code P0353 Code Mean?

The engine control module (ECM) or powertrain control module (PCM) sets the P0353 code if it identifies a malfunction in the ignition coil or coil circuit for cylinder #3. Problems can be from the primary (PCM) side or the secondary (spark plug) side of the coil circuit.

Why is it for cylinder #3 specifically?

In most modern vehicle engines, the ignition system uses individual ignition coils for each cylinder. The PCM’s ignition control circuit monitors and controls the operation of each ignition coil in a coil pack. 

If the PCM doesn’t detect specific signals from the coil pack circuit, it will set the trouble code P0351 to P0362, depending on which ignition coil has a fault. 

The code’s last digit indicates the cylinder with the bad coil. 

As such, P0351 is for cylinder #1 (ignition coil A), and P0353 is for cylinder #3 (ignition coil C), and so on. These codes go all the way to code P0362, which indicates a coil circuit fault in cylinder #12 (ignition coil L) for a V12 engine.

Next, let’s see what causes this trouble code to turn up. 

What Triggers Code P0353?

Several different engine issues can trigger the P0353 code, even though it’s primarily a code for the ignition coil. 

These can be:

Now that we’ve identified the P0353 triggers, what symptoms will these cause?

What Symptoms Does Code P0353 Have?

More than one symptom can show up with the P0353 code. 

These are the more common ones: 

In some vehicles, the OBD-II system will disable the fuel injector on the affected cylinder. And other trouble codes may show up related to the engine misfire or injector circuit issues.

Another thing to keep in mind is that some symptoms — like an activated Check Engine Light or trouble starting the vehicle — can stem from many other causes. These can vary from a brake booster vacuum leak to starter motor problems.

In more severe cases, the PCM may initiate “limp mode” to prevent further damage to the engine or transmission.

With all that said, how serious is the P0353 code?

Is The P0353 Code Critical?

It depends on the severity of the symptoms. 

Some may cause drivability issues — like trouble starting the car with a bad coil. In this case, you’ll probably have to rope in the services of a mobile mechanic

A rough idle from an engine misfire likely won’t stop you from driving the vehicle to a workshop, but leaving it unattended will cause engine damage over time. 

With an engine misfire, the catalytic converter could get clogged or damaged, pushing the engine cylinders to work extra hard. This adds stress to all involved components like the spark plug, coil pack, and piston rings.

And, while rare, a faulty PCM could very much present several safety concerns. 

To sum up, in most cases, a P0353 ignition coil C code might not stop you from driving your vehicle, but it should be resolved ASAP.

How Is Code P0353 Diagnosed?

To start diagnosing, your mechanic will use an OBD scanner to review the codes stored in the PCM. They’ll then clear the codes and test-drive the vehicle in similar conditions to duplicate the fault.

Getting to the root cause of the P0353 ignition coil C code isn’t entirely straightforward and will require different tools, including a multimeter, test light, and so on. 

Your mechanic will: 

Code P0353 should be thoroughly reviewed. Skipping diagnosis steps and replacing parts without testing can cause the code to return. For example, a simple component like a bent connector pin or loose wire could still create ignition coil issues.

Next, let’s see what kind of fixes a P0353 code can involve.

How Is Code P0353 Fixed?

The types of repairs and replacements for code P0355 will vary based on what’s caused it.

Repairs could include:

From this list, you can see that repairs can range from simple to complicated. 

So, what’s a reliable way to resolve code P0353?

An Easy Solution To The P0353 Code

You’ll want a trustworthy mechanic to diagnose the P0353 code and conduct thorough repairs to make sure it really goes away.

Even better if they’re mobile mechanics who can drop by your home and get everything fixed in your driveway. That’ll save you the trouble of driving a problematic vehicle to an auto repair shop.

In that case, RepairSmith is your answer!

RepairSmith is a convenient mobile auto repair and maintenance solution. 

Here’s what they offer:

Wondering how much this may cost you?

RepairSmith charges around $95-$150 for a code diagnosis, depending on where you’re located. The diagnoses fee can be added to the final cost if you decide to get the repairs done.

Just fill this online form for an accurate cost estimate.

We’ve now covered the basics of the P0353 code. 

Let’s move on to some FAQs.

3 P0353 FAQs

Here are the answers to some P0353-related questions you may have.

1. What Are Ignition Coils?

An ignition coil draws voltage from the car battery, multiplies it, then delivers the amplified power to its connected spark plug. This gives the spark plug the high-voltage electricity it needs to generate a spark. 

The engine uses the spark from the spark plug to ignite the air-fuel mix in the combustion chamber, allowing combustion to occur. 

2. What Does The Ignition System Do?

The ignition system is responsible for converting battery voltage into the high voltage used to ignite the air-fuel mixture in each engine cylinder. 

Most modern vehicles use a Coil On Plug (COP) system — meaning each engine cylinder has an individual ignition coil, with each coil secured by spark plugs.  

Each ignition coil typically has two wires. One wire is for the battery feed, and the other wire is for the coil driver circuit (or ignition control circuit) from the powertrain control module (PCM). 

The PCM controls the ignition spark and timing through the coil driver circuit. 

Once each ignition coil fires its spark plug, fuel combusts, moving the pistons which turn the engine crankshaft — generating the energy needed to move a car.

3. What Is Limp Mode?

Limp mode is also known as “emergency mode” or “limp home mode.”

It’s when the vehicle’s computer purposely reduces overall engine performance. This can happen if the onboard diagnostic (OBD) system detects a critical problem and needs to prevent any more damage to the engine or transmission. 

If your vehicle goes into limp mode, you may notice these symptoms:

Final Words

While the P0353 code signifies a problem with ignition coil C, the potential triggers are varied, with different levels of severity. 

As such, it’s always a good idea to let an expert deal with any engine issues — whether it’s as simple as a loose connector or a more complex PCM circuit problem. 
To set your mind at ease, let RepairSmith handle it for you. Just contact them, and their ASE-certified mechanics will be at your doorway to lend aid in no time!