P1381 Honda Accord Error – Causes And Fixes

Seeing an engine warning light pop up on your Honda Accord’s dashboard is worrying. Diagnosing the issue typically involves connecting an OBD-II scanner tool to read any Diagnostic Trouble Codes (DTCs) stored in the vehicle’s computer. p1381 Honda Accord is one such code, indicating a problem with the cylinder position sensor. This sensor is a key component in engine timing, so a fault here can lead to poor performance, economy, and drivability.

This article will leverage my experience with Honda vehicles to explore this p1381 code. I’ll explain what the cylinder position sensor does, look at what causes it to fail, how to diagnose the problem, and the various repair options available to Honda owners. Read on for a comprehensive guide on tackling this error code.

What Is The Cylinder Position Sensor?

The cylinder position sensor, sometimes called the crankshaft position sensor, has an important role in engine management and ignition timing. It monitors the position and rotational speed of the crankshaft, sending a digital signal to the powertrain control module (PCM).

Using this input, along with data from other sensors, the PCM can calculate ignition timing and fuel injection. It ensures each cylinder fires at exactly the right moment to generate optimal power and efficiency.

On Honda Accord models, the sensor is located on the distributor housing, near the back of the engine. It consists of a toothed ring around the crankshaft, which rotates past the stationary sensor pickup. As each tooth passes, it generates a voltage pulse signal.

If this sensor fails or suffers an electrical issue, the PCM has no way to determine crank position. This leads to timing errors, misfires, rough running, and activation of the p1381 Honda Accord trouble code.

What Causes P1381 Honda Accord Code?

There are a few common causes for the p1381 Honda Accord cylinder position sensor code:

  • Faulty Sensor
  • Loose Connections
  • Damaged Wiring
  • Defective Distributor

Faulty Sensor

The most likely root of the problem is failure of the cylinder position sensor itself. Like any electrical component, these sensors can suffer from wear and tear over time and miles. The internal circuitry can fail, causing erratic or missing sensor signals. Replacement of the complete sensor assembly is needed.

P1381 Honda Accord Error - Causes And Fixes
P1381 Honda Accord Error – Causes And Fixes

Loose Connections

Another possibility is a loose or faulty connection between the sensor and wiring harness. Vibration can loosen connectors over time, interrupting the signal. Inspect terminals for corrosion, damage, bent pins, etc. Fixing a dodgy connection could resolve p1381.

Damaged Wiring

Exposed or shorted wiring in the sensor circuit can cause p1381 Honda Accord. If wires have worn through insulation due to rubbing, they can contact other components causing faults. Inspect wiring thoroughly and repair or replace any damaged sections.

Defective Distributor

The integrated coil, trigger, and electronics in the distributor cap can also be the root cause in some cases. Moisture ingress, carbon tracking, or mechanical faults inside the distributor could lead to p1381. The entire distributor may need replacement.

How To Diagnose P1381 Honda Accord?

When confronted with an illuminated check engine light and rough running engine, use an OBD-II scanner to read any diagnostic trouble codes stored by the PCM. p1381 indicates an issue with the crankshaft position sensor circuit. Here are some additional checks to confirm the cause:

  1. Visually inspect the distributor, cap, and wiring for damage. Look for loose, corroded or damaged connectors and terminals.
  2. Using a multimeter, check the sensor’s electrical resistance across its two terminals. It should read between 500-1500 Ohms. A significantly different reading indicates a bad sensor.
  3. Monitor the sensor signal using an oscilloscope or lab scope. You should see a clear digital waveform as the crankshaft rotates. Missing or irregular patterns point to sensor trouble.
  4. Compare sensor data with a known-good vehicle to check for anomalies. Access sensor live data via scanner if available.
  5. Check PCM for any additional related trouble codes, which may reveal wiring faults.

These tests will help confirm if the sensor itself has failed, or if there are wiring faults causing the issue.

How To Fix P1381 Honda Accord Error?

Once the root cause has been diagnosed, repairs can be made to resolve the p1381 code:

  • Sensor Replacement
  • Fix Wiring Issues
  • Replace Distributor
  • Clear Trouble Codes

Sensor Replacement

If the cylinder position sensor itself is found to be faulty, replacement is needed. On most Accord engines it is integrated into the distributor housing. The complete distributor assembly will need installing:

  1. Disconnect the negative battery terminal before starting work.
  2. Matchmark position of distributor cap and rotor before removing.
  3. Disconnect electrical connector and mounting bolts. Remove the old distributor.
  4. Install new Honda OEM distributor and reconnect wiring.
  5. Ensure the distributor is fully seated and bolted into the engine block.
  6. Align cap and rotor to original matchmakers to preserve ignition timing.
  7. Reconnect battery and road test vehicle. The check engine light should extinguish once the new sensor is recognized.
Fix P1381 Honda Accord Error
Fix P1381 Honda Accord Error

Fix Wiring Issues

For wiring faults, inspect and test connections with a multimeter for opens or shorts. Repair any damaged, corroded or loose connectors. Exposed wires must be repaired or replaced.

If no specific fault is found, the entire sensor circuit wiring loom may need replacement. This requires wiring knowledge and soldering skills. Seek a professional for extensive wiring repairs.

Replace Distributor

If coil, trigger or other internal parts of the distributor are found to be the root cause, the complete distributor will require replacement. Follow the steps above for sensor replacement. Only use a genuine Honda part to ensure correct operation.

Clear Trouble Codes

Once underlying issues are resolved, erase any residual p1381 codes from the PCM using a code scanner. Road test to ensure check engine light remains off and normal engine performance returns. Monitor sensors with a scanner to verify correct operation.

Also Read: Causes And Fixes Of The P1157 Honda Accord Error

What Does Code P1381 Mean?

The P1381 diagnostic trouble code indicates an issue with the cylinder position sensor circuit on Honda vehicles equipped with OBD-II. This sensor, sometimes called the crankshaft position sensor, monitors the location and speed of engine crankshaft rotation. 

It provides a digital signal to the powertrain control module to allow proper calculation of ignition timing and fuel injection. If the P1381 code is stored, it means there is likely a fault with the sensor itself or its wiring. 

This can lead to engine misfires, loss of power, poor efficiency, and activation of the check engine light. Typical causes are a failed sensor, loose/damaged wiring, or a defective distributor assembly.

How Do You Test A Position Sensor?

There are several methods to test and diagnose faults with the cylinder position sensor when a P1381 code is present. First, visually inspect wiring connectors and harness for damage. Use a multimeter to check sensor resistance – it should read between 500-1500 Ohms. 

Monitor the live sensor signal with an oscilloscope to look for missing or irregular patterns during crank rotation. 

Compare sensor data to a known-good vehicle. Check for related trouble codes pointing to wiring issues. These tests will help determine if the sensor, connections, or distributor components have failed. Replacement of the affected parts is needed to resolve P1381.


The p1381 Honda Accord trouble code can certainly be annoying to diagnose and repair. However, with a logical diagnostic approach and methodical troubleshooting, the root cause can be uncovered. In most cases, the fault traces back to a failed crankshaft position sensor or related wiring issue.

Replacing the distributor and sensor assembly is generally the most reliable repair option. For wiring faults, careful inspection and testing of the sensor circuit is needed, along with repair of any damaged wires or connectors.

Author's Image

Ammar Masoud

I have had a long and fulfilling career in the automotive industry, primarily with Honda and Acura. With 15 years of experience as a Honda service technician, I became highly skilled in repair and maintenance, gaining a deep understanding of these vehicles. After many years in the automotive field, I decided to embark on a second career in industrial manufacturing. It was a significant change, but I found that the skills I had honed in the automotive industry were incredibly valuable in my new role. In my current position in industrial manufacturing, the demand for quality workmanship and meticulous attention to detail is paramount. Fortunately, these are traits that I have cultivated throughout my years in the automotive industry. I take pride in applying these skills to meet the high standards expected in the manufacturing sector.