P0441 is one of the more common OBD II codes that can occur in the Toyota Highlander. It is frequently caused by a loose or bad gas cap, cracked or disconnected EVAP system hoses, vacuum leaks, or a bad purge valve.
Always start by taking a look at the gas cap. P0441 is related to the evaporative emissions control system (EVAP) and should not be considered a breakdown risk when it’s the only code present. Your Highlander’s ECM will trigger this code when it detects that the vacuum level in the Purge System is not flowing within the proper specifications.
P0441 can cause your vehicle to fail an emissions test.
P0441 Quick Info
|Definition||EVAP System – Incorrect Purge Flow|
|Symptoms||Gas smell, MIL light|
|Common Causes||Broken EVAP Hose, Bad Gas Cap, Purge Valve|
|Repair Cost (Parts)||Usually around $100 or under|
P0441 Definition: EVAP System – Incorrect Purge Flow
Here’s the definition of P0441 for the Toyota Highlander. It’s a generic diagnostic trouble code, which means regardless of what auto manufacturer built the vehicle, it’ll have the same meaning. It indicates that there is an issue with the Evaporative Emissions System. It’ll often appear with P0455.
Evaporative Emissions System
The EVAP system captures the fuel vapor from the gas tank and sends it to the engine’s intake to be ignited during the normal combustion process. Its primary function is emissions reduction. It also keeps fuel vapor from escaping the gas tank and releasing into the atmosphere.
Only during certain operating conditions will your Highlander’s PCM open the EVAP purge valve. In the meantime, they are stored in the charcoal/carbon canister. Storing them in the canister prevents fuel vapors from escaping into the atmosphere.
Incorrect Purge Flow
Your Highlander’s powertrain control module (PCM) opens the purge valve to let fuel vapor enter the engine. It can detect the pressure at the purge valve by measuring the vacuum pressure and comparing it to what it should be for any given RPM.
If your Highlander has P0441, the PCM is detecting that through a leak flower sensor or a leak detection pump. If there are vacuum hoses running to your purge valve, check them for cracks and make sure they are connected.
Toyota Highlander P0441 Symptoms
The only symptom of P0441 is usually the service engine soon light. There shouldn’t be any drivability issues.
- Check Engine Light– Often, this is the only indication of a problem. P0441 may appear with other codes. If it does, that may help you narrow down which part of the EVAP system has failed.
- Fuel Odor– The EVAP system deals with fuel vapor. Often when there is a problem with the EVAP system, there will be a gas odor since the fuel vapor is released into the atmosphere.
Highlander P0441 Causes + Diagnosis
Here are some of the most common causes of the P0441 code. They are presented (somewhat) in order from most to least easy to check:
Step 1: Inspect the Gas Cap
The gas cap going bad can cause P0441. This is due to the fuel tank not having the right amount of pressure with a bad cap. If you are getting a message to tighten your fuel cap when it is tightened already, you should replace the fuel cap before doing anything Twist the gas cap tight. Does it click tight? Wiggle it. Does it feel loose even when it’s snugged? Is the O-ring still in good shape? If not, it may need to be replaced. A gas cap is affordable and easy to replace.
Step 2: Look at the Hoses
Start by locating the purge valve solenoid and tracing the lines that connect to it as far as they run. If any of them are cracked, broken, or disconnected, repair them and see if that clears P0441. If you live in a drier climate, or your Highlander is older/has high mileage, cracked hoses can throw P0441.
Step 3: Test the Vacuum Line
It could be a vacuum leak causing this code. Listen to the engine running. Do you hear a hissing or whistling noise coming from anywhere? Vacuum leaks are pretty easy to detect as well. Here’s a good article on how to find a vacuum leak from Popular Mechanics.
Step 4: Inspect the Wiring Harness at the Purge Valve
Due to the location of the purge solenoid, it is not uncommon for the wiring going to it to fail. Verify that the wiring harness is plugged in all the way and that the harness isn’t cracked, broken, or otherwise damaged.
Here’s a great article from Backyard Mechanic that explains how to detect a short circuit if you think this may be the cause. https://www.backyardmechanic.org/how-to-find-a-electrical-short-on-most-any-vehicle/.
Step 5: Test the Purge Valve
The purge valve is the most common issue that causes the P0441 trouble code in your Toyota Highlander. It’s really easy to replace. Finding it and unhooking it is not that hard. There are a few clips that you need to find and remove.
You can command the purge valve to open and close if you have a good scan tool. Here’s an in-depth article from electron university on how to test a purge valve.
Here are issues that cause P0441 in the Highlander that aren’t as common:
- Failure of the purge flow sensor/leak detection pump (whatever your Highlander’s engine happens to be equipped with)
- PCM problems
How to Fix P0441 With a Scan Tool
If you have a quality scan tool, this video will show you how to diagnose and fix P0441 in your Highlander using it.
P0441 by itself is not going to make your Toyota Highlander break down. It’s usually caused by a broken hose or a faulty EVAP purge valve.