Intermittent P0456 Codes – What Do They Mean And When Should You Worry?

14 June 2023
 Categories: , Blog


Modern cars contain many systems designed to help them run cleaner and more efficiently. The evaporative emissions (EVAP) system prevents gasoline vapors from escaping into the environment. Since gasoline has a high vapor pressure, it will quickly vaporize under normal conditions and enter the atmosphere. The EVAP system recaptures these vapors before they can escape your car.

A P0456 diagnostic trouble code indicates a very small leak in the EVAP system. This code can point to numerous underlying faults, and you may find it comes and goes. Sometimes, you might clear the code or have your check engine light disappear, only for the same fault to reappear after several days, weeks, or months.

Why Does This Code Appear?

The EVAP system includes nearly every component in your fuel delivery system, but the purge valve is the most critical component. When the purge valve closes, fuel vapors recirculate back through your car's air intake. This design increases engine efficiency and reduces emissions by burning rogue fuel vapors rather than allowing them to escape.

The system also includes a sensor that can detect an appropriate vacuum level when the valve closes. A P0456 code indicates that the pressure sensor detects an incorrect pressure level. The P0456 code indicates a very small leak, which means that while the system isn't performing as expected, your car is not leaking large amounts of fuel vapor.

What Causes Intermittent P0456 Codes?

A P0456 code can have numerous causes, but small leaks often don't point to major component failures. Instead, the cause may be a faulty or loose gas cap, a problem with the purge valve seal, or even dirt or debris stopping the valve from closing fully. These issues may come and go, causing the computer to clear the code and shut your check engine light off.

You should pay special attention to when the code appears. The gas cap is the most likely culprit when the issue seemingly appears and disappears after filling your car with gas. Removing and resealing the cap may temporarily fix the problem, but you will eventually need to replace it. If the problem seems more random, it's more likely to result from a faulty seal, a bad purge valve, and even a bad sensor.

When Should You Worry About a P0456 Code?

A small EVAP leak is unlikely to cause many drivability issues. Since modern automakers design their engines with the EVAP system in mind, you may notice a decrease in fuel efficiency, although any impact will likely be relatively small. Intermittent codes are particularly unlikely to cause any noticeable drivability issues.

However, EVAP leaks will trigger a check engine light, and modern cars will store a permanent DTC that may not clear even if the check engine light turns off. These issues may prevent your car from passing state emissions inspections, making this problem potentially costly when left unaddressed. Since small EVAP leaks are rarely serious, fixing the problem is the best way to avoid these complications.

Reach out to an automotive repair shop near you to learn more.