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P0011: Camshaft Timing out of Alignment

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What is P0011?

By definition, this generic OBD-II code means: “Camshaft Position A – Timing Over-Advanced or System Performance (Bank 1).”

It means that the Power Control Module (PCM) or Engine Control Module (ECM) has detected that the Bank 1 intake camshaft is more advanced than what the PCM (or ECM) commands it to be. Over-advancing can occur during advancing or retarding of the camshaft timing (cam timing). 

In simpler words, your car’s Engine Control Module is indicating that the timing on your vehicle’s intake camshaft is out of alignment.

Note: This specific OBD2 fault code is triggered mainly in cars with variable camshaft timing (or variable valve timing). Variable valve timing (VVT) or variable intake valve timing is the process of changing the timing of an intake valve lift event in internal combustion engines. The process is used to improve fuel economy, engine performance, or emissions by regulating when the intake and exhaust valves are closed and opened. The engine computer adjusts the camshaft or camshafts using an oil control valve or valves (OCV), also called a variable valve timing control solenoid valve.

Common symptoms

Here are some of the common symptoms of code P0011:

  • The Engine Control Module will turn on the Check Engine Light and order the camshaft to move to its actual starting position (if possible). 
  • The engine may experience a hard start if the cam is stuck in a far advanced or retarded timing position.
  • You may hear rattling or knocking from your car engine.
  • Depending on the camshaft position, the engine may operate rough, idle, or stall.
  • The engine will have high fuel consumption (reducing fuel economy) as the camshafts aren’t in their normal positions. 
  • Engine emissions may exceed federal standards and fail an emissions test.
  • There’s noticeable poor engine performance.

Note: The symptoms may vary based on the cam timing positions when the camshaft ceased to advance or retard.

 

Can I still drive?

DTC P0011 is a critical error code, and you should get professional input and resolution ASAP.

If you don’t, your engine may:

  • Run rough, erratic, or stall and hesitate
  • Suffer hard starting conditions
  • Use up excessive fuel

Other critical damages that indicate the severity of the DTC include:

  • Carbon fouling of engine components
  • Various drive complaints depending on the failed camshaft position
  • Other problems with the valve train or engine components depend on the failure reason

P0011 causes

Here are some instances that cause the code P0011:

  • Sensor readings: The camshaft sensor and the crankshaft sensor suggests that the camshaft is more advanced than the Engine Control Module has directed it to.
  • Stuck camshaft phaser: A camshaft phaser (camshaft actuator) is stuck in the advanced position.
  • Advanced camshaft: The camshaft is excessively advanced when the Engine Control Module has instructed the camshaft to hold back to a lower timing level.
  • Faulty camshaft actuator: There’s a defective camshaft actuator.
  • Extremely thick or dirty oil: The oil is overly thick or dirty, clogging passages and reducing oil flow to and from the camshaft phaser (actuator).
  • Clogged oil control solenoid passages: The oil control solenoid to the Bank 1 camshaft might have blocked passages or is stuck. 
  • Failing VVT solenoid: There’s a failing VVT solenoid (or oil control valve).
  • Damaged timing components: Some timing components may be damaged, like a stretched timing chain or broken guide. The camshaft gears spin by the timing belt when oil pressure drops. Now, if the timing of the timing belt is off, it can cause pieces to break off and jump out.These broken pieces could get into the oil pan, causing a drop in oil pressure.
  • Stuck oil flow control valve: Oil buildup or contamination causes the VVT oil flow control valve to stick.

Diagnosis

Your mechanic will do the following to troubleshoot and fix the DTC P0011:

  • First, they’ll conduct a visual inspection of the Bank 1 intake camshaft to identify any electrical connector, wiring, or valve problems of the camshaft oil control valve. 
  • Then, they’ll check if the engine has clean engine oil of the correct oil viscosity. The mechanic will change the engine oil if it’s overly viscous or if the oil level is too low.
  • Once done, your mechanic will scan the trouble codes and check the freeze frame data to see when the error code was prompted. They’ll also reset to clear the OBD-II fault codes and check if the P0011 DTC comes back. 
  • If the code returns, your mechanic will perform a manufacturer’s specific pinpoint test for the DTC P0011 and fix it accordingly.

Note: The engine oil that flows through the camshaft and oil control valve should only be as per the manufacturer’s recommended oil viscosity. The camshaft and camshaft oil control valve should also be of a specific size.

Possible repairs for P0011 & Costs

Most P0011 DTC cases are fixed with a simple oil change

That’s why one of the initial steps to fixing the P0011 trouble code is to change your car’s engine oil and oil filter if it’s not up to standards. Ensure that your engine oil is up to capacity and has the proper oil viscosity. Neglecting oil changes can decrease engine performance and lead to costly engine damage. So it’s always good practice to stick to a regular oil replacement schedule.

The cost of fixing the P0011 code can be anything between $40-$2000, depending on what caused the DTC to appear.

The P0011 code can occur due to anything from low or dirty oil to engine failure

The repair cost will include charges for labor, diagnosis, and replacement parts like the timing chain, camshaft sensor, and camshaft phaser. That’s why it’s impossible to provide an exact estimate without diagnosing the issue.

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