What Is P1280 Code in 7.3L Powerstroke: How to Fix It? Full Guide

If someone told me to bet on one diesel engine, I would definitely vouch for the 7.3L Powerstroke. And this is why, as a car enthusiast, I have this ‘thing’ for the 7.3L Powerstroke and you can’t call it a Love At First Drive. But even this son of a gun faces difficulties and that’s when the P1280 can show up.

Now, if you’ve seen this code before and wondering what is P1280 code in 7.3L Powerstroke, I can tell you one thing: ‘Don’t Freak Out.’

When your engine faces difficulties, it will send you some notifications through DTCs (Diagnostic Trouble Codes).  The P1280 is one of these codes. Yes, it can sound trouble and technically it is. But then again, there’s no way you’d want to pull your hair or have a heart attack.  YOU CAN FIX IT!

Let’s get to know Code P1280 better, the possible causes and symptoms, and most importantly, how you can fix it up.

P1280 Injector Control Pressure Failure – What Is It

P1280, by definition, means Injection Control Pressure (ICP) Out of Range-Low.  You see, your 7.3L Powerstroke has this ICP sensor. To make sure your vehicle is operating correctly, the ICP monitors the oil pressure through the PCM and checks if it’s correctly pressurizing the fuel injectors and using the IPR (Injection Pressure Regulator).

Now, the P1280 code pops up when the Powertrain Control Module a.k.a PCM senses there’s something wrong with the ICP sensor. And guess what’s the most common problem? It’s when you’ll see there’s a flood of oil around your ICP sensor.  However, sometimes, you may see the P1280 code still after replacing the IPR and ICP sensor.

But you’re most likely getting the code for

  • The ICP sensor is not working properly
  • The ICP Sensor circuit has a poor electrical connection
  • The Powertrain Control Module has a fault in it

P1280 Code on 7.3 Powerstroke: Is It Serious?

When the code appears, you might think to overlook it. However, if you don’t do something about this code, you might get some serious damage to your engine. And I’m talking about engine failure, engine surging, you name it, anything can happen. So, when you see the P1280 code on your 7.3L Powerstroke, you better not ignore it.

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Symptoms of Getting P1280 Code on A 7.3L Powerstroke

It doesn’t matter what DTC you’re getting, it will show you some symptoms before appearing. And that’s also the case for the P1280 Code. The code can appear out of the blue if you notice the following symptoms.

  • The Check Engine Light is ‘On’
  • On Start-Up, you’re getting a Surge
  • Your Driving experience is getting a bit sluggish
  • Problems related to ICP

How to Fix the P1280 Code on 7.3 Powerstroke

So here we are. Follow these steps as I’ve mentioned everything you can do to fix the error code easily.

Tools Required

  • 16mm Wrench
  • Screwdriver Kits

1. Check the ICP Sensor

First thing’s first. Try to get access to the ICP sensor. Get to the driver’s side first. You’ll find the ICP behind the alternator. To get to the ICP sensor, you need to do two things.

  • The alternator has a serpentine belt. Remove it.
  • Now, unscrew the bolts of the alternator and remove them as well.

Once done, you can get to the ICP sensor and using the wrench will be easy peasy. The next job is to check the health of your ICP sensor.

  • Unplug the ICP sensor while you run the engine.
  • See if there’s any difference in the sound of your engine. If you find there’s a difference in the sound, this indicates the ICP is well and good. In such a case, simply cleaning it up will get your job done.
  • If you don’t notice any difference (though you’ve disconnected the ICP sensor already), there’s a major problem in your ICP sensor and you need to replace it.

2. Replacing the ICP Sensor

  • Firstly, you have to make sure the negative battery cables are disconnected.
  • Locate the ICP sensor as I’ve talked about it earlier. It should be located on the driver’s side towards the engine’s front.
  • There’s an electrical connector with the ICP sensor; remove it. In order to do this, you have to relieve the retaining clip and pull it upwards away from the ICP sensor.
  • Once done, you’ll notice there’s an oil pooled in the connection of the ICP sensor. This means, that now you can replace the sensor.
  • Remember, the ICP sensor comes in 2 types.  If you’re using an original ICP sensor, it should have this round body. At its base, you’ll find an integral nut worth 5/8 inches. You can remove it using a 5/8 inches open-end wrench or crow’s foot.
  • You’ll find a 1-1/16” hex head inside the sensor’s body. You can remove it or even install it (whenever you want) using a 1-1/16” wrench or deep socket.
  • Now, take access to the high-pressure oil gallery and remove the ICP sensor from it. You’ll find the oil gallery inside the cylinder head. While removing the sensor, make sure no dirt or debris gets inside the passage.
  • Get your hands on a clean engine and coat the sensor’s O-ring with it. Once you’re done, install the new sensor. You can snug it down but make sure you don’t tighten it too much.
  • To set the sensor, you can use a number of tools as well. For me, I find a 1-1/16 sensor socket pretty handy.
  • Check the pigtail of the ICP connector. If the pigtail is exposed, brittle and already faulty, you have to replace it. Now, this one is a bit expensive, but you don’t have to necessarily replace it every time you replace the sensor.
  • If you think the pigtail is good enough and you don’t need to replace it, just make sure the connector is installed on the ICP sensor once you’ve applied the dielectric grease to all the terminals.
  • If you want to replace the connector, you must detach the wire loom. This will make sure the pigtail gets exposed, creating ample workspace for you.
  • Now, cut the harness of the ICP sensor connector and strip all the wires in such a way that you can expose roughly ¼” of copper. Repeat the same thing for pigtail replacement. While cutting the wires, make sure you don’t overdo it.
  • The pigtail boasts a heat shrink tubing and three butt splices. Set up the heat shrink in such a way that it sits over the wires. Then the pigtail should be spliced to the existing harness.
  • Once you’ve crimped the splices, consider covering them using the heat shrink tubing. You should do this to ensure the splice is completely covered. Now, secure the tubing by using a heat gun.
  • Since you’re also set, consider reinstalling the wire loom and securing it.
  • You can put a bit of dielectric grease on the terminals of the connector. Now, install the connector again and go for a test to see if everything’s working properly.
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Now that you’ve replaced the ICP sensor, this should fix the P1280 code. However, even after doing all these, the code stays, seek an expert’s help right away.

3. Avoid These Mistakes

Since you’re dealing with technical stuff now, one wrong move and the next thing you know, you’ll mess everything up. So make sure you avoid the common mistakes people usually do.

  • Not replace the Injection Control Pressure sensor before you replace the PCM.
  • Not getting the right-sized screwdriver for getting rid of the alternator.

How Much Does It Cost to Solve the P1280  Error Code

So, you know how to fix it, and now you’re probably thinking about giving it a try. Well, you better keep the cost in mind for solving this problem. And here’s when a lot of people make a fool out of themselves.

You see, there are cheap-quality ICP sensors online that will cost you about $15 to $20. These are absolute garbage and good for nothing.

If you have to replace your ICP sensor, you’ll need to spend around $100 to even $300; pretty expensive I know. And things get worse when the error code is still there even after replacing the ICP. In such a case, you might go to an auto-shop and they’ll charge about $75 to $150 per hour to fix the code for you.

Wrapping Up!

So, now you know what what is P1280 code in 7.3L Powerstroke and how you can fix it. However, if you think you can’t fix it all by yourself, you must seek an expert’s help. But to be honest, if you’re someone who deals with nuts, bolts and wires pretty often, these will be pretty easy for you to pull off.

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Brian Polk

Brian is an automotive expert who has 12 years of experience in the industry. He has worked on a variety of cars, from high-end luxury vehicles to budget-friendly options, and has a wealth of knowledge on the subject. He is passionate about automobile and enjoys sharing his knowledge with others, whether they are looking to purchase a new motorized vehicle or simply learn more about the inner workings of these machines. In his free time, Brian enjoys working in his automobile workshop and spending time at the track.

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