P0303 Dodge – What It Means, Causes, And Symptoms!September 3, 2022
Have you gotten the check engine light on the dash and you have diagnosed the P0303 Dodge code? Well, if that is the case, then you are at the right place because there will be a lot to cover on this topic and we are going to learn everything you need to know when it comes to this trouble code.
Having a problem like this can be rather frustrating because at first, you don’t know what could be causing it. These problems are rather complex to solve because there could be a number of different causes as well as there could also be different symptoms.
So, we can say that you need to upgrade your troubleshooting knowledge. And we are going to help you out with that because troubleshooting is true mastery and we really want to share with you all the knowledge that we gathered throughout the years solving car problems. This is why we write these articles where we discuss and elaborate on how to solve specific problems for you.
First, we are going to cover the basics of car diagnostics and see what is modern car diagnostics and how it is done the right way. Then we will cover the P0303 Dodge code meaning as well as the causes, symptoms, and diagnostic process. We will learn what you can do in order to maximize your effort and sort out this problem quickly and effectively. So, if you want to learn more about this problem, follow along.
Introduction To Car Diagnostics
Now before we dive into more complex topics like the P0303 Dodge Caravan meaning, let’s first take a look a the basics of modern car diagnostics and how it is done. I bet that there are a ton of novice mechanics who are reading this article and do not know the base principles of modern car diagnostics. So, this chapter is dedicated to them. If you feel like you have the grasp, you can jump directly to the problem.
Nevertheless, modern car diagnostics is a lot different than diagnostics done back in the day. As would people say, modern problems require a more modern approach. Modern cars are all computerized and implement a ton of sensors. And all these sensors communicate with the main computer also known as ECU, PCM, or ECM in some applications.
And all cars produced after 1996 have to comply with the OBD2 standard. This standard is important to know because each modern car has an OBD2 port. And in this port, you can connect an OBD2 scanner.
This scanner is a small computer that can read the car computer. This tool is really cheap and can be found for a really good price. With this tool, you will be able to read the computer and gather all the trouble codes like in this case with the P0303 Dodge. You can also read live data from sensors and all other crazy stuff.
Then the second tool that you will need is the multimeter. A multimeter is a crucial tool that will allow you to measure the performance of different sensors. You can measure voltage, resistance, continuity, and all other sorts of values that are really important for sensor diagnostics. Overall, that’s all you need to know, now let’s jump to the problem.
P0303 Meaning – Cylinder 3 Misfire Detected
Since we covered the basics of car diagnostics, we learned how this procedure is done. We think that now it is time to dive better into the problem and try to understand the issue of the P0303 Dodge code. So, what is the meaning of this code? Let’s elaborate.
The definition of the P0303 Dodge in simple words is “P0303 – Cylinder 3 Misfire Detected”. But what does this means in the first place?
Well, this is a notification for you that you have a problem with your car. More precisely a misfire on your engine. The affected cylinder is number 3. So, what is a misfire in the first place?
A misfire in simple words is a situation when you don’t have normal combustion in a certain cylinder. The ignition of gas is either premature or delayed. And this is not good. All four strokes need to be perfectly timed.
If there is a misfire, there will be problems with this cylinder and this problem is very broad because it can mean a lot of things and can be triggered by different causes. More on the causes we are going to elaborate on in a bit.
The important thing for you when you have a problem like this is to notice the audible information. Because besides the check engine light, there are a ton of audible symptoms that will describe this problem.
There will be ticking noises coming from the top of the engine cover and you will feel like your engine is running on fewer cylinders. There can be also pops from the exhaust pipe and much more. We are going to elaborate on the symptoms further on. Now let’s discuss codes similar to the P0303 Dodge Charger.
Similar Codes To The P0303 Dodge
Now let’s discuss another important topic when it comes to the P0303 Dodge code. And that is the situation with similar codes to this one.
If you didn’t know, this is a code that indicates a problem with misfires on a specific cylinder. More precisely cylinder number 3.
There could be also other Dodge codes as well. Remember that these codes are generic. This means that they appear on any vehicle out there, not only Dodge.
So, when it comes to misfires, there could be codes like P0300 which means random misfire, and P0301 which indicates a misfire on cylinder number 1. P0302 misfire on cylinder number 2, and so on. There are a lot of codes. P303 is next, then P0304, P0305, P0306, P0307, and P0308.
It greatly depends on the number of cylinders. The higher the number of cylinders inside of the engine, the greater the number range would be. Because some cars even have up to 12 cylinders. You get the idea. But what is causing this code on your car? Let’s elaborate more on the causes in the following chapter.
P0303 Dodge Causes
Now since we learned more about the P0303 Dodge code and its definition. We can slowly move on and start understanding more about the causes of this problem.
And frankly, this problem is so broad that there could be a dozen causes. But we are going to list the ones that are the most commonly found when you have an issue with misfires on your car. So, buckle up because it is going to be a long ride.
1. Bad Spark Plugs
Now let’s start with the most common reason for the P0303 code. And that is the problem with the spark plugs.
As you probably know, spark plugs are one of the components that deliver the spark into the cylinders and ignite the gas, and then combustion occurs.
So, when these spark plugs foul because of a rich mixture, lean mixture, the coolant inside the cylinder, or simply too many miles, problems with combustion will occur and you will face engine misfires and the check engine light as well in some instances. We have a whole article on spark plug fouling, so you should definitely check it out.
These are the first things that you need to check and make sure that the condition of that specific spark plug is good. If not, replace all of them, they are fairly inexpensive and hopefully, this will sort out your P0303 Dodge problem.
2. Bad Ignition Coil
Now let’s discuss the second most common cause for the P0303 Dodge. And this cause is closely related to the spark plug.
Namely, the ignition coil can not work at all or underperform. And when this happens, you will have a big problem igniting the fuel. Usually, when a coil gets bad, you will also get a code.
These codes usually start from P0350 and move up, depending on the cylinder that is affected. So, if you get the P0303 and the P0353, then checking out the ignition coil might be a good idea. You can inspect this component with a multimeter or simply swap out the coils. If the problem moves to the next cylinder, then the coil is probably faulty. Now let’s move on to the next possible cause for the P0303 Dodge Journey.
3. Bad Wires And Distributor
And the next probable cause for the P0303 Dodge Challenger is probably the bad wires or distributor. If you didn’t know, some of the cars produced in the late 90s, still had this system with distributor cap and wires instead of coil packs.
So, what can happen is that these wires and distributor caps can fail over a long time of use and need to be replaced, as well as the wires.
So, a refresh on these old vehicles with new distributor cap and wires is often recommended for solving problems like the P0303 code.
4. Bad Fuel Injectors
The next set of probable causes for the P0303 code that we are going to cover are less frequent but can happen. And these causes are closely related to the fuel system.
The first in this set of probable causes are the bad fuel injectors. Fuel injectors tend to develop issues over time. They can leak, or get obstructed. Especially in direct injection vehicles, these injectors can be too sensitive to bad fuel.
And stutters and poor engine performance as well as the check engine light will be present. In addition to this, there will be also codes concerning the injectors as well. So, inspecting these components thoroughly with a multimeter is really important if you deem them suspicious of the problem. Now let’s move on to the next cause.
5. Low Fuel Pressure
Now let’s cover the second common cause for the P0303 Dodge which is fuel related. And this is the low fuel pressure.
As you probably know, oil pressure needs to be good in order for the engine to work well. So, if you have bad fuel pressure because of a clogged fuel filter or possibly because of a weak fuel pump, then you might face an issue like this in our case with the engine misfires. Although this happens quite rarely I must admit.
6. Vacuum Leak
The next cause for the P0303 Dodge Caravan that we are going to cover is the problem with vacuum leaks. Vacuum leaks can be a true pain and could cause problems like these.
There could be PCV system leaks, EVAP leaks, or intake manifold leaks. There are a ton of places where air could get inside of the engine and cause a situation like this.
So, usually, whenever the EVAP system is failing, you will be greeted with a P0440 or a similar code. In most cases, the purge valve of this system which is a solenoid stops working and you have a fully open or fully closed position. And unmetered air will enter the combustion and will cause problems. Now let’s move on to the next cause.
7. Bad Camshaft Position Sensor
The next two causes for P0303 Dodge are sensor-related issues. There is a camshaft position sensor on each of the camshafts on top of your engine. Some engines have one of them, while most nowadays have two.
And this camshaft is usually with variable valve timing. So, when the sensor fails, the engine fails to read the position of the camshaft and you could end up with a problem like in our case. So, be really aware of this problem as well.
8. Bad Crankshaft Position Sensor
And the next cause that we are going to cover concerning this problem with the engine misfires and the P0303 Dodge code is the crankshaft position sensor.
As with the camshaft position sensor, the same story is with this sensor. This sensor is monitoring the position of the crankshaft of the engine. And when it fails, it could trigger the check engine light, cause the engine misfires, or cause the car to crank a lot before it starts. So, be really aware of this sensor as well.
9. Engine Timing Is Off
The next set of causes for the P0303 Dodge code that we are going to cover are connected with the engine timing.
Engine timing is key if you want to have an engine that doesn’t misfire. Sometimes can happen the engine to skip timing.
This can be due to bad tensioners on the timing belt or timing chain, or damage to the belt or chain. And when the engine skips timing, there could be some problems. Like engine misfires, internal engine damage, etc. So, it is a good idea to change these timing components at the recommended intervals if you want to avoid some permanent damage to be done to the engine itself.
10. Low Engine Compression
And the last cause in our long list of causes for the P0303 Dodge code is the low engine compression.
As you probably know, engine cylinders have to be sealed all the time. So, if you have a blown head gasket, burnt valves, or worn-out compression rings, you can expect a drop in compression.
And when this happens, the engine simply does not perform very well. It starts to misfire, it loses power, and overall nightmare situation.
And the only way to be sure that you have compression is to measure compression with a special tool. We have a whole article on this topic as well. How you can perform a DIY compression test?
Now let’s dive into the symptoms.
P0303 Dodge Symptoms
Now as we covered all the possible causes for the P0303 Dodge. Let’s move on and start learning the symptoms that will also be present when this error code pops up.
The first and most obvious symptom is probably the check engine light. It could be on or flashing. And since you are aware of this symptom since you diagnosed this code, we will move on to the next symptoms.
The next symptoms are concerned with the engine work. The engine will love to run rough and will shake. Typical misfire situation when you hear some ticking noises coming from one of the cylinders. At the exhaust, there could be some pops and bangs because of the bad combustion.
In addition to this, there could be a fuel smell out of the exhaust as well. On top of that, there will be a lack of power from the engine and possible engine hesitation or jerking while accelerating the car. But how you can diagnose and fix this trouble code? More on that we are going to cover next.
Diagnosing & Fixing A P0303 Dodge
Now let’s move on to the diagnostics and fixing the P0303 Dodge code. How you can do this? Well, this really depends from situation to situation.
One of the first things that you want to check is to see if you have any other codes except the misfire code. Clear all of the codes and observe the ones that stick. If there are some that stick, that are concerned with some of the components that we previously discussed. Such as the coils, fuel system, camshaft & crankshaft position sensors, fuel pump, and injectors, you should pay close attention and address these components first.
If you don’t have a code except that the misfire code P0303, the next thing you will want to do is to check the spark plugs and replace them. Usually, these misfires are created either by spark plugs or ignition coils. If you have ignition wires, replace the cap of the distributor and the wires.
And lastly, if nothing helps, there could be an issue concerning compression. Maybe you have a blown head gasket, or possibly a valve that doesn’t seat well. And for this, you will have to perform compression testing to make sure that there is not a major engine problem.
If you have let’s say a bad compression, there could be a number of things. And these things can be really expensive to fix. Especially if the rings of the pistons do not seal well and you have blowby that is causing all these issues. So, be really vary about these problems since you can start from something really small, and end up with a huge headache. But what is the cost to fix this problem with the P0303 Dodge RAM 1500? Let’s elaborate more on this in the following chapter.
Cost To Fix P0303 Dodge
So, what is the overall cost to fix this problem with the P0303 code? Well, the answer to this question really depends on the problem itself. The smaller the issue the cheaper would be the fix.
The best case scenario could be the spark plugs that went bad and are causing the problem. And you can replace all four or six of them for less than $50.
Then, we move to the more expensive problems like ignition coils. These could cost up to $150 or more in some cases.
Fuel-related problems are also expensive. Especially in direct injection. Fuel pumps can go for $900 or more, injectors can be refurbished for $250.
The most expensive repair that you can expect is engine damage. Especially if you have bad piston rings that don’t seal well, in this case, you can pay up to $2,500 to refurbish the engine. Or if you have a bad cylinder head that is causing loss of compression, you can pay about $1,000 for a new head. Or $500 to refurbish the old one. Which I won’t recommend if the new head is relatively inexpensive.
Overall, these are expensive repairs. So, you need to be prepared to pay the amount of money needed to sort the issues out. Now let’s conclude this article.
In this article, we have covered quite a bit when it comes to the P0303 Dodge code. First, we learned the basics of car diagnostics and learned how this procedure is done on cars.
Then we continued with the problem and learned the meaning of this code, as well as the causes and symptoms that you can expect. Later on, we focused on sorting out the problem and also how much this sorting out will probably going to cost you.