Are you experiencing some strange symptoms with your engine and diagnosed the code P0012? What does this code mean? More about this and how to solve it in this article, where we will explain it in depth.
Having a problem like this can be really frustrating. Mainly because at first you don’t know what it is. The Check Engine light comes on suddenly and you end up worried. What could be the problem?
What Does Code P0012 Mean?
The code P0012 is defined as “Camshaft position timing bank 1“.
The code P0012 generic shows that the intake camshaft timing is further behind than the ECM thinks it should be.
The ECU has noticed that there is a slight difference in the recommended intake camshaft position angle, with the actual angle that your camshaft has.
To be more precise, this code appears when your camshaft has been left in the retarded position. Or the camshaft position is above the maximum recommended value. That’s why you get this error.
In simple words, this means that your engine timing is off or that the timing is not measuring correctly.
However, the important thing is that it is a problem with Bank 1. This is the bank where cylinder 1 is located. So if you have an inline engine, this should not confuse you, but if you have a V engine, you should look for cylinder number 1.
Causes of Code P0012
This problem is mainly related to the engine’s variable valve timing system. This is a specific mechanism that alters the timing of the valve lift event.
This system has been used since the 90s and is now standard on all cars.
Improves vehicle performance, emissions, and fuel efficiency. But sometimes it can cause problems like this code. But what precisely are the causes of this code?
You may also be interested in Code P0011. Timing Is Off On The Camshaft “TO”
1. Defective or Contaminated Solenoid Screen
VVT Solenoid Screens They are one of the most frequent causes of problems with the code P0012. This is because these screens look like little filters. When they get clogged, they will cause problems like in our case.
Therefore, it is sometimes necessary to remove and clean them if you want to resume proper operation of the VVT system. The entire VVT must be disassembled and reconditioned to fix the problem.
2. Defective VVT System Solenoid
The second most likely cause of code P0012 is the defective camshaft VVT solenoid. This solenoid is the component that activates the actuator and tells the oil control valve to send oil to the actuator.
These solenoids are electrical components and their circuit can short circuit or fail completely. Generally, when they fail it is recommended to replace them.
But first, you need to diagnose the component itself and this can be quite complex. VVT It is not a simple system and you need a lot of knowledge and skill to understand how it works before carrying out a repair like this.
3. Defective Variable Valve Timing Actuator
The third most likely cause of the P0012 code is a faulty VVT actuator. This is basically a device that works with the oil pressure that is sent from the oil control valve by the commands of the solenoid that we discussed earlier.
The actuator is a mechanical device and like any mechanical device, it can fail and cause problems like this.
Especially in this system where tolerances are minimal.
4. Incompatible Oil Or Low Level
These VVT systems need oil to work. If there is not enough oil in the system, this system will display the check engine light on the cluster.
In addition to this, you cannot use any type of oil other than that specified by the manufacturer. Be sure to maintain the correct viscosity for this specific application. Do not use oil thinner or thicker than recommended.
5. Worn Timing Chain
Modern cars require the replacement of timing chains at the correct time. If you delay this process, some slack will develop in the chain and this will cause the camshaft to go out of sync.
So it might throw a fault code like in this case. That’s why you need to replace this timing chain in time.
6. Damaged Timing Chain Tensioner
The last probable cause of the code P0012 What we would like to cover is the problem with the broken timing chain tensioner or guide. These components maintain the correct tension in the chain itself.
Therefore, whenever any of these components fail, an imbalance will develop in the system and trigger the fault code.
Symptoms of Code P0012
Now that we have covered the probable causes of this problem with the code P0012we can focus on its associated symptoms.
1. Check Engine Light Activated
The first and most likely symptom you will notice is the Check Engine light. Since you’re already here, you’re probably aware of this symptom.
But it is worth noting that this code P0012 doesn’t usually appear alone. It is often associated with other codes. That is, codes P0011 and P0014 can be activated simultaneously.
2. Decreased Fuel Efficiency
The second most common symptom associated with code P0012 is the decrease in fuel efficiency, which will be noticeable every time you have a problem with the VVT system.
Variable valve timing basically makes our cars as efficient as possible. Therefore, whenever this system is not working properly, there could be some loss in the performance of the car.
And if there is a loss in performance, there is also a decrease in fuel efficiency.
That’s why when you notice something like this, it’s important to act quickly and diagnose the problem.
Sometimes the engine has trouble starting properly or suffers from poor idle. In some more extreme cases, the engine could even stall and have trouble starting.
These symptoms are not only associated with poor VVT. But if you diagnose the check engine light and all it shows are VVT codes like P0012, then this could be the root of the problem.
4. Rattling Noises
The last symptom associated with the P0012 code that we would like to cover is the situation with rattling noises coming from the timing cover.
These noises are often attributed to a loose timing chain. This chain is worn or the timing tensioner is broken and the chain has too much slack.
So when you have code like this and you experience rattles, there is a high probability that there are problems with the timing chain and your problems are coming from there.
How to Diagnose Code P0012?
First, you need to get an OBD2 scanner and see the codes you are getting. Review all the codes and focus on the ones that are for the VVT system like the one we are covering right now.
Then you should check the solenoid and the screens of this solenoid. The screen, as we mentioned, is the wire mesh that cleans the oil and makes sure nothing bad gets into the actuator.
This component often fails and the VVT develops problems, triggering the P0012 code. Make sure you clean them and that everything is clean and in order.
The solenoid is an electrical component that basically makes this system work. Tells the actuator when to open and close to activate the VVT.
You need to troubleshoot this component and check if it works. For this, you will need a multimeter tool to check if it is working or not.
This sensor is usually located on the top of the valve cover or near the valve cover. For the correct location, you must find the correct diagram for your engine.
If the solenoid is fine, you can look for your problem elsewhere. And that is in the actuator itself, or in the valve body where the solenoid goes.
The timing chain and tensioner are other possibilities to take into account to correct the code P0012.
How to Repair Code P0012?
There are some things you can do to correct the code P0012. The first is to reset the codes and take the vehicle for a spin to determine if it rides rough, stalls, or hesitates.
It is also useful to change the oil and filter according to the specifications in the vehicle owner’s manual.
You can also repair the connections and wiring on the camshaft oil control solenoid. You may need to replace the wiring or connections as a whole, but only if the diagnostics show you do.
You may need to replace the oil control valve of the camshaft. After that, look for skipped timing problems in the timing chain. If there is a problem, you must repair it.
Common Errors When Diagnosing Code P0012
There may be a problem with the camshaft timing and not a problem with the wiring to the ECM. You can check this by visually checking the wiring connections on the sensors that communicate with the ECM.
Then, follow the precise steps to avoid misdiagnosing the code P0012. You should avoid replacing system components without prior diagnosis. Any component that you consider to be failing must first be verified through diagnosis.
How Serious Is Code P0012?
Any problem that causes the engine to run rough, in addition to stalling or hesitation, can be a serious problem. The valve train or engine could have more problems if the problems associated with the P0012 code are not repaired.
Additionally, your vehicle could develop more problems due to excessive fuel consumption affecting the engine parts.
Carbon fouling is another serious problem that can arise from not repairing a failing camshaft position.
You may also be interested in Error Code P0021 OBD- A Camshaft Position – Excessively advanced timing or system performance Bank 2
In this article, we have covered the problem with the code P0012. We learned the basics of this problem and its definition. We learned that this is a VVT problem that is affecting cars with variable valve timing.
Then, we have covered the main causes of this problem as well as the symptoms that are closely associated with this fault.
Having this information will help you understand the operation of the VVT system and detect possible faults such as the code P0012.
If you want to know other articles similar to Code P0012. Camshaft Position Timing Bank 1 you can visit the category Fault Codes.