CEL; P1281; Thermostat; Help? - JeepForum.com
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post #1 of 3 Old 05-08-2014, 02:56 PM Thread Starter
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2002 TJ Wrangler 
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: Houston
Posts: 6
CEL; P1281; Thermostat; Help?

I'm breaking the unwritten rules because I have this same post under cheap fixes and I'm "that" guy, but I need help...

I'm throwing a code in my 02 TJ and I need to get it inspected. Because I'm in Houston I cant bypass the CEL issue. I haven't tried a fix yet because I just now narrowed down the issue to a temp thing. The temp warms up on my gauge as it should and stays where it should once its warm so no sensor issue that I can figure;

Code (P1281) says engine stays cold too long, which is total crap. Diagnostics say likely causes Low on Coolant (which I can guarantee isn't the case) and faulty thermostat. Thermostat was replaced less than a year ago. Doubt it went bad. I called my mechanic who suggested (this seemed weird to me) that I turn the thermostat 180 degrees and it should fix the problem.

Given his previous credibility with me on my annoying fixes, I don't want to say it sounds bogus, but has anyone else ever heard of this? Am I just the idiot who doesn't see how this would affect anything? Please, if anyone can shed some light on this I would really appreciate it, my inspection is about 3 months past due and its about to be my daily driver again.

The last thing I want to do is put her in the bullpen for a day and let my mechanic put his finger in my ***. Could it be a sensor sending bad information to my computer? I'm no genius, but if the thermostat was stuck open, wouldn't the gauge not be rising at all or stay at optimal temp? Please tell me if rotating the thermostat would do something because it kind of sounds like some quack **** and I'd rather not waste my time. I know I'm gonna get some laughs but seriously, I'm trying to get a solution here, so keep the "you idiot" remarks to a minimum please.


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post #2 of 3 Old 05-11-2014, 10:13 AM
2004 TJ Wrangler 
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Lake in the Hills
Posts: 2,843
First thought is put in a 195 degree like the one that came in it stock. It was designed to run at 195 and thats what should be there to keep the computer happy. Next stats do wear out. If taking the time to open it up buy the 12 dollar stat and install it. Spinning it is stealing your time and money FLAT OUT!!!!!!!!!!!
Buy a few tools and do this quick job your self. Less than 1-2 hours for a newbie.


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post #3 of 3 Old 05-12-2014, 10:58 AM Thread Starter
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2002 TJ Wrangler 
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: Houston
Posts: 6
Thanks Ron, I was planning to do it myself, but I was worried because if doing that wouldn't fix the issue I was gonna have to take it into the shop for sure because I would have been left completely without ideas. I did in the end just drop a new thermostat in, cleared the code and went about my business. Code hasn't come on again yet as I doubt I ran it long enough consecutively to cycle the computer since then, but here's hoping. Doesn't it have to run at 55 for 30 miles or so for a reset?

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