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If the pressure in the fuel rail or fuel system drops past acceptable levels, the engine’s computer sets the P0087 code. This code is only listed on vehicles that use “common rail” fuel injection (CRI).

For a technical understanding of common rail systems, read our in-depth discussion here.

For the definition of the P0087 code, as well as possible causes and symptoms, proceed to read below.

What Does the P0087 Code Mean?

Diagnostic Trouble Code (DTC) P0087 stands for “Fuel Rail/System Pressure Too Low.” It may get logged by the PCM when the pressure inside the fuel rail or the fuel system dives below the minimum levels needed to supply the engine with enough fuel to run properly.

fuel pump
If the pressure in the fuel rail or fuel system drops past acceptable levels, it may trigger code P0087.

Note: Code P0087 is a generic code specified by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). Depending on the car manufacturer, the code’s definition may change.

The PCM keeps track of the pressure levels within the fuel rail. By adjusting the fuel pump or the fuel volume (or pressure) regulator, the computer can change the fuel pressure and the amount of fuel going to the engine.

When the vehicle needs more power to run faster, drive uphill, or tow something, the PCM raises the fuel pressure to send more fuel to the engine. Once the need to support heavy loads passes and the engine can take it easier, the PCM reduces the pressure to conserve fuel.

A pressure feedback sensor on the fuel rail measures fuel pressure. It will warn the PCM if the pressure falls below the level expected of the fuel pump driver module or fuel pump assembly’s current activity.

In response, the PCM may log the P0087 code.

Important Note: If any of the fuel supply lines or the fuel rail pressure sensor are removed on a common rail system, the component must be replaced, so don’t remove a line or a sensor unless you have a new one with which to replace it. The soft iron seat will only seal once.

What are the Possible Causes of the P0087 Code?

So your scanner shows code P0087⁠—but what caused the fuel pressure in the fuel rail to get so low to begin with?

Potential reasons include:

  • Fuel Filter issues
  • A crimp or restriction in the fuel supply line
  • A bad or failing fuel pump or fuel pump control module
  • Electrical problem with the low pressure fuel pump
  • Electrical problem with the Fuel Rail Pressure Sensor
  • Electrical problem with the High Pressure Pump Solenoid
  • A broken or worn high pressure pump
  • Camshaft timing or camshaft lobe wear on the pump drive

If the fuel levels reach critically low levels, the PCM may set a code P0087 even though it has nothing to do with the fuel rail’s pressure levels.

fuel filter
A broken or dirty fuel filter is one of the possible causes of code P0087.

What are the Common Symptoms of the P0087 Code?

The engine burns fuel to provide power for the entire car. If the fuel pressure drops off, the engine’s performance will likewise deteriorate.

If your vehicle developed an issue that triggered a code P0087, you may notice the following symptoms:

  • Engine’s performance suffers due to insufficient fuel, leading to misfires from running lean, rough running, or reduced power during acceleration or high RPMs
  • The engine may experience stalling
  • Fuel efficiency drops as the vehicle consumes more fuel than necessary

How to Diagnose the P0087 Code

Diagnosing the root of this engine trouble code and repairing the issue lies outside the purview of this brief guide, as the specifics can vary depending on your vehicle’s make and model, as well as other factors.

If you wish to learn more about troubleshooting a code P0087, you can watch the following videos:

How to Fix the P0087 Code

The number of possible reasons that could trigger the P0087 code makes resolving it a tad difficult. There’s no single solution that fixes the code, as you’ll find with most OBD-II codes. This is why a lot of people leave the job to their mechanics.

If you do decide to take on the repair job yourself, you’ll need the help of online guides or repair manuals. Having your owner’s manual handy is also a good idea, as it can help provide further guidance when it comes to replacing parts.

Also, keep in mind that a fix that worked for one vehicle may not work for another. If you own a Ford Focus, for example, some owners have reported success in resolving the code by replacing a damaged fuel injection pump (if that was indeed the cause).

However, this may not work for a P0087 on a Ford Fusion⁠—so make sure to perform a proper diagnosis and do extensive research on fixes that have worked for the same vehicle as yours.

Common Rail Fuel Injection Systems

Code P0087 is only listed on vehicles that use “common rail” fuel injection (CRI), such as light truck diesel engines, i.e., the GM Duramax Diesel, Ford Powerstroke, or Dodge Cummins. It is also listed on certain Gasoline Direct Injection GDI platforms, which are also common rail systems. Common Rail Injection uses thousands of pounds of pressure rather than the tens of pounds we’re accustomed to seeing on non-GDI platforms. And not all GDI platforms list this exact code, but all common rail systems list a similar code.

Okay, so on these common rail systems there’s typically a low pressure electric pump feeding the high pressure mechanically driven pump, which is typically driven by camshaft lobes or a chain. Some V6 and V8 GDI engines (not all of them) have 2 high pressure pumps.

Usually (not always,) the electric in-tank pump (low) pressure is monitored and controlled by the ECM/PCM by way of a Fuel Pump Control Module. But there are some GDI platforms (like Hondas and early Hyundais) just have a plain old in-tank pump with a built-in regulator that delivers a set amount of pressure when the pump is running.

A notable exception to this in-tank-pump rule would be Duramax engines that count on the high pressure pump’s ability to draw fuel from the tank rather than having it delivered to the high pressure pump by a low pressure pump. This is a Bosch method that’s as old as Bosch diesels.

But on common rail platforms (GDI or CRI), there’s always a solenoid on the high pressure fuel pump that the ECM/PCM uses to control pump output pressure. This is true regardless of which common rail system is being discussed. The other commonality is that there is a Fuel Rail Pressure Sensor on the fuel rail that the ECM/PCM uses for feedback while it’s controlling rail pressure.

Products Mentioned in this Guide

Any information provided on this Website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace consultation with a professional mechanic. The accuracy and timeliness of the information may change from the time of publication.

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