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P0010: “A” Camshaft Position Actuator Circuit (Bank 1)

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What is P0010?

The generic code P0010 is defined as “‘A’ Camshaft Position Actuator Circuit (Bank 1).” 

This error code tells you that the powertrain control module (PCM) or engine control module (ECM) has detected a problem with your engine’s Variable Valve Timing (VVT) solenoid.

The Variable Valve Timing (VVT) system helps improves engine performance and fuel economy by regulating the opening and closing of the intake and exhaust valves, which are controlled by the camshaft. The PCM adjusts camshafts through the use of Variable Valve Timing solenoid valves.

A P0010 code means there’s an issue with the variation in the mechanical timing between the Bank 1 camshaft and crankshaft. 

Cam timing issues typically occur during higher revolutions per minute (RPM) of the engine. This is when the powertrain control module tries to adjust valve lift during higher speeds.

Note: The Variable Valve Timing solenoid valve is also known as the camshaft actuator solenoid valve or oil control valve (OCV.)

How Does The Camshaft Actuator Solenoid Operate?

Your vehicle’s ECM or PCM is designed to send a pulse width signal to the solenoid, allowing it to turn the solenoid rapidly on and off. The longer the solenoid is on during each pulse, the more oil pressure is supplied to the actuator.

The cam sensor (CMP) regulated on the Bank shuts the feedback loop. This way, the ECM or PCM can detect the camshaft advancement needed (depending on engine load, speed, etc.) It’ll also determine how well the solenoid is regulating the camshaft.

Common symptoms

The first sign is typically an illuminated check engine light (also known as the malfunction indicator light or MIL). 

Here’s a quick list of other symptoms that may accompany the P0010 code. If you detect any one or more of them, you should call a certified mechanic.

  • Poor car engine idle
  • Engine performance issues like rough running and lack of acceleration
  • Decreased fuel economy
  • Rattling/knocking from the car engine
  • Decreased engine performance at high RPMs
  • Emission test failure

Can I still drive?

The DTC P0010 is moderately severe, meaning it won’t make your car unsafe to operate. So yes, you can drive your car. 

However, with time, it will lower fuel economy and reduce power. But most importantly, your vehicle will fail the emissions test.

Remember that extended driving with engine code P0010 may cause internal engine damage. As a result, you may end up with very expensive repairs. So it becomes important to get it fixed as soon as you get a chance to call a professional technician.

P0010 causes

Code P0010 is a generic code that can be triggered due to multiple reasons. Here are some of the more common causes of the P0010 code:

  • An internal failure of the Variable Valve Timing solenoid valve (in other words, a stuck oil control valve)
  • Crankshaft sensor malfunction
  • Camshaft position sensor malfunction
  • Excessive engine oil sludge (from lack of oil changes)
  • Contaminated engine oil blocking the Variable Valve Timing solenoid screen
  • Engine performing outside of proper timing parameters
  • Engine timing is out of sync
  • A worn timing component like chains, gears, and guides
  • Internal damage to the Engine Control Module 
  • The Engine Control Module software is out of date
  • Circuit problems like damaged wiring or poor connections (e.g., bad ECM connector)

Diagnosis

Diagnosing a problem on the camshaft position actuator circuit can be difficult. Engine code P0010 could be caused by a number of things, such as a bad Variable Valve Timing solenoid, a bad sensor, or even dirty engine oil. 

Here’s how your mechanic will generally go about the diagnosis:

Step 1: They’ll use an OBD scanner to verify if P0010 is the only engine code present and if there’s no other pending DTC.

Step 2: Next, they’ll visually inspect the Bank 1 Variable Valve Timing (VVT) control solenoid valve. If there’s any faulty or frayed wiring or connector, they’ll repair or replace them. Once done, your mechanic will clear the DTC P0010 and rescan to see if it pops up again.

Step 3: If it persists, they’ll inspect for engine sludge. Any engine sludge can block the Variable Valve Timing control solenoid valve and prevent proper functioning. If your mechanic finds the valve to be dirty, they’ll clean it thoroughly and clear the engine code. Once done, they’ll rescan to check if the error code is still present.

Step 4: Your mechanic will also conduct a resistance check of the Bank 1 intake camshaft Variable Valve Timing control solenoid and compare it to your car’s service manual. If it’s out of spec, they will replace the Bank 1 intake VVT control solenoid. This should remedy your code P0010.

Possible repairs for P0010 & Costs

Since different causes can trigger the check engine code P0010, there’s more than one possible solution. That’s why giving an accurate estimate is impossible without properly diagnosing the issue first.

For engine code P0010, your professional mechanic may have to perform more than one repair to fix your car. 

Here are some of the possible repairs and their approximate cost:

  • Variable Valve Timing control solenoid: $500 – $600
  • Camshaft position sensor: $120 – $300
  • Wiring repair or replacement: $100 – $1000
  • Timing component (chain or belt) replacement: $200 – $1000 
  • Crankshaft sensor: $190 – $250

Do note that the repair expenses include the cost of relevant parts and labor.

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