Why Is My Odometer Displaying “Error”?

An “error” code on your vehicle’s odometer means you can’t assess the exact mileage. However, if your car’s odometer displays an “error,” don’t try to fix the problem without knowing the actual cause. So, why is your odometer displaying an error?

Typically, an odometer will display an error when the actual lights and display equipment making up the Instrument Panel Cluster (IPC) has failed. Other common causes include defective “sending units” and poor speed sensors. Check your car’s manual for the specific list of possible causes.

Want to learn more? If so, let’s discuss how you can fix an odometer that displays an “error,” how to reset the odometer, and when you need to visit a professional. 

Why Is My Odometer Displaying “Error”?   

300, 000 miles or kilometers car odometer

An odometer is a component that records the distance or mileage which your vehicle has traveled. A faulty odometer will likely display an “error” more often than usual.  

Failed internal Instrument Panel Cluster (IPC) or loss of communication 2 may lead to the odometer displaying an error. Other common causes include defective sending units, problems with the speedometer head, and malfunctioning speed sensors.

Let’s discuss these factors in more detail:

Failed Internal Instrument Panel Cluster (IPC)   

Most experts attribute the Internal Panel Cluster (IPC) failure to the odometer displaying an “error.” The IPC typically includes a fuel gauge, speedometer, and odometer placed in the driver’s dashboard to assist the driver with the necessary information about the fuel system, engine performance, and vehicle speed. 

Defects in the IPC panel may result in dead gauges, unreliable odometer readings, or a flickering speedometer, which leads to the odometer displaying an “error” altogether. 

Some of the most common factors that may affect the IPC panel include faulty computers, a blown fuse, poor wire connections, and overloaded circuits.    

Communication 2 Loss

Your vehicle’s instrument cluster may give you some codes indicating that the problem is not with IPC. If you’re getting Code U1000, it confirms the real problem lies in Communication 2.  

An electronic odometer counts the pulses from the pickup attached to the engine control unit (ECU) to record the distance. Unfortunately, the loss of Communication 2 typically disturbs these pulses, leading to the odometer displaying an error.

Several factors may affect these pulses. These include a defective engine control unit, a malfunctioning transmission control module, and a problematic dashboard.  

A Defective Sending Unit

A defective fuel gauge sender may also lead to an odometer displaying an error, as it suddenly changes positions and gives inaccurate readings. When it becomes empty, this indicates the fuel sender is not working well due to the separation of the float from the arm, leading to the odometer error. 

Malfunctioning Speed Sensors

Speed sensors typically transmit packets of information to the ECU, which also helps the odometer get better pulses to record vehicle distances.

Unfortunately, when the speed sensors are not working well, it’s likely to cause transmission problems, erratic readings, or internal electrical faults, along with other issues that can lead to the odometer displaying an error.    

How to Fix an Odometer That’s Not Working

Car dashboard odometer

Fixing a defective odometer is essential to get the proper distance readings. Unfortunately, most drivers hesitate to get it fixed because of its repair and replacement costs, but you shouldn’t make this mistake to avoid any legal consequences.

You can fix your defective odometer by replacing the speed sensors if they’re badly damaged. In addition, new sensors will improve pulse transmission to the ECU, enhancing the odometer’s efficiency in recording the mileage. 

Not all sensors require replacement, so you may need to change wire connections to fix sensor problems. Updating the computer system software can also help fix odometers that aren’t working.    

Other vital fixes include replacing gears, installing the right-sized fuse, setting the connector at the back of the dashboard, or removing dust. 

How to Reset an Odometer

If your odometer displays an “error” message, try resetting it to see if the problem is still there. The question is, can you legally reset the odometer? 

It seems easy but not a wise choice because resetting an odometer is illegal. The federal department has established tempering laws to protect the interests of vehicle buyers, preventing odometer resetting or messing up with the vehicle title. 

However, you’re allowed to reset the odometer if you’re a racer and want to reset the odometer to calculate the trip distance.

When to Get Professional Help

You should always visit a professional mechanic to fix your defective odometer if: 

  • You’ve never opened up the driver’s dashboard and don’t know what’s there. 
  • You want to avoid scratches on your dashboard, which can affect the vehicle’s price when you sell it. 
  • The dashboard is too damaged. 
  • The odometer is too dusty and cloudy from the inside. 

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