P0012 Code: Meaning, Symptoms, Causes, and Fixes

The P0012 code is one of the most common trouble codes. Learn the symptoms and causes of this code.

P0012 Code

The engine is one of the most crucial parts of the vehicle. Any issue affecting the engine can significantly diminish the overall quality of the ride. The camshaft timing plays a vital role in ensuring the efficient performance of the engine. The engine control module (ECM) uses the intake camshaft timing to control different functions of the engine.

When the Bank 1 intake camshaft timing becomes over-retarded, the ECM triggers the P0012 code. This guide describes the P0012 code meaning, causes, symptoms, and how to fix it. 

P0012 Code Definition

The P0012 stands for Camshaft Position “A” – Timing Over-Retarded (Bank 1).

In this code, the designation “A” represents the intake camshaft within a straight overhead or inline camshaft engine. Meanwhile, the term “Bank 1” denotes the specific side of the engine housing the cylinder #1.

What Does the P0012 Code Mean?

The P0012 code signifies that the Engine Control Module (ECM) of your vehicle detects that the intake camshaft timing on Bank 1 is over retarded than the ECM’s commanded position. This discrepancy in timing may be apparent during either the advancement or the retardation phase of the camshaft’s operation.

Camshaft Timing Out Of Position

The VVT system (variable valve timing system) of a vehicle is responsible for optimizing both engine performance and fuel efficiency by precisely controlling the opening and closing of exhaust and intake cam valves. The camshaft controls the operation of these valves.

By utilizing the data of the camshaft and crankshaft position sensors, the ECM alters the camshaft’s position through the VVT solenoid valve. This process enables the ECM to monitor the actual timing of the intake valves accurately, ensuring proper functionality.

The P0012 code is triggered when the ECM observes that the timing of the intake camshaft for Bank 1 is over retarded.

Causes of P0012 Code

The ECM of your vehicle triggers the P0012 trouble code due to one or more of the below-given causes:

  • Faulty oil control valve
  • Faulty intake valve timing solenoid
  • Low engine oil levels
  • Dirty engine oil
  • Bad VVT actuator
  • Wrong camshaft timing
  • Insufficient oil pressure
  • Damaged wiring connected to the intake camshaft
  • Loose or damaged timing chain

P0012 Code Symptoms

Read More: P0011 Code Meaning and Causes

How to Diagnose the P0012 Code

When the P0012 code is triggered, it is recommended to stop the vehicle and fix the issue. Follow the following steps to diagnose the P0012 code:

  • Begin by reading the engine trouble codes. Use a scanner tool to find the stored codes. If there are multiple codes, you can easily find the main issue. In cases of numerous error codes, consider resetting the system and try a test drive. Upon the re-illumination of the check engine light, you can recheck the codes and capture freeze-frame data.
  • Evaluate the quality of the engine oil. If an oil change is due, seize this opportunity to perform the necessary maintenance. Ensure that the correct oil viscosity is utilized for your specific model.
  • Inspect the oil level by using a dipstick. If you find low oil, add more oil.
  • Check the condition of the oil filter. If it is clogged, clear or replace it.
  • Inspect the condition of the electrical wires and connections associated with the VVT solenoid valve and camshaft sensor. Any identified damage should be promptly addressed through replacement.
  • Perform a comprehensive inspection of the camshaft position sensor.
  • Conduct a test to observe whether camshaft timing alterations occur upon toggling the VVT solenoid valve on and off.
  • Thoroughly assess the intake camshaft timing and carefully examine the timing belt along with its pertinent components.
  • After making the necessary repairs, clear the codes and perform a test drive.

Common P0012 Code Diagnosis Mistakes

A prevalent error often encountered when dealing with P0012 code is the presumption of a known issue. Neglecting a systematic assessment could result in unnecessary installation of parts on the vehicle.

Rather than making assumptions, it’s crucial to exactly obey the appropriate diagnostic process for your specific vehicle. Before replacing any expensive part, it is compulsory to perform a thorough examination of connections and wires to identify potential sources of short circuits.

How Serious is the P0012 Code?

The P0012 code is a serious error code that warrants immediate attention. While you might consider continuing to drive your car if it hasn’t stalled, this course of action is not advisable. It’s in your best interest to address the issue promptly.

Given the potential causes and accompanying symptoms, there’s a genuine risk of causing permanent damage to the engine. To prevent more substantial complications, it’s essential to rectify the issue before it escalates further.

What repairs can fix the P0012 Code?

When the P0012 code is triggered on your vehicle’s dashboard, you need to replace one or more of the following parts:

  • Performing an oil change
  • Replacing the damaged timing chain
  • Adding more oil if required
  • Replacing the faulty oil pump
  • Replacing the faulty oil control valve
  • Replacing or cleaning the clogged oil filter
  • Replacing the bad camshaft actuator
  • Repairing the issues related to the VVT solenoid
  • Fixing the electrical problems

Repair Cost of P0012 Code

Repair one or more of the below-given repairs to fix the P0012 code:

Oil filter replacement$40 to $80
Oil control valve replacement$140 to $480
Oil pump replacement$180 to $1,600
Timing belt replacement$900 to $5000
Intake valve timing solenoid replacement$280 to $580

FAQ Section

What is a camshaft position timing over retarded bank 1?

A camshaft position timing over-retarded condition on bank 1 represents that the camshaft timing in relation to the crankshaft is delayed, which may cause poor fuel economy and engine performance.

Does the camshaft position sensor affect timing?

Yes, a bad camshaft position sensor may affect the engine timing. There are certain vehicle models that highly depend on a functional timing signal provided by the camshaft position sensor for starting. In instances where this signal is absent, the vehicle could exhibit intermittent starting behavior or even fail to start entirely.

What sensors affect timing?

The camshaft and crankshaft position sensors are the major engine sensors. They play a pivotal role in managing fuel injection rate and ignition timing. The crankshaft position sensor serves as a versatile component responsible for identifying engine speed, establishing ignition timing, and gauging relative engine speed.

What happens if your camshaft sensor goes bad?

When the camshaft position sensor starts to deteriorate, its capacity to correctly transmit information diminishes. Even a slight divergence in fuel delivery or ignition timing by mere milliseconds can lead to adverse effects such as vehicle stalling, diminished power, subpar acceleration, sputtering, or complete engine shutdown.

Can I drive with the P0012 code?

Yes, you can drive with the P0012 code for a short distance, but driving for a long distance is not recommended. Driving with this code may cause different issues, such as poor engine idle, engine stalling, poor fuel economy, rough acceleration, or complete failure of the engine. Therefore, it is recommended to fix it as soon as possible.

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