P0012 OBD2 Trouble Code – Time to replace your oil!

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P0012 OBD2 Trouble Code


Meaning of P0012 OBD2 Code

The technical definition of P0012 is: Camshaft Position “A” Timing Over-Retarded.

Now, unlike other OBD2 codes with severely complicated definitions, P0012 is relatively easy to understand. It means the ECM detected the intake camshaft timing in bank 1 is stuck in a retarded position. It also means the intake cam timing refuses to advance even after repeated commands from the ECM.

This problem might sound complicated, but nothing can be farther from the truth. Since P0012 has something to do with the intake camshaft timing, the problem can be mostly attributed to dirty engine oil, which is not too expensive to fix.

Pro Tip
Replacing your oil and filter usually fixes this P0012 OBD2 Trouble Code! If not, it means you have camshaft issues!

But if the problem stems from a broken or damaged camshaft phaser, it can suddenly lead to a significantly more costly fix. Replacing the camshaft phaser is not for novice mechanics or the faint of heart, and usually requires the expertise of a professional mechanic.

What are the causes of P0012 code?

 P0012 -“A” Camshaft Position – Timing Over-Retarded (Bank 1)  

The first letter of the fault code will indicate the family of the diagnostic trouble code. In this case, Powertrain:

  • P = Powertrain (Engine or Drive Train)

The first digit in the error code will signify if the code is generic or manufacturer specific:

  • 0 = Generic fault

The second number means specific codes for:

  • 0, 1, and 2 = Air/fuel mixture

The third number narrows it to the camshaft:

  • 12 = Camshaft Position

The P0012 code can be caused by many reasons. One of it has something to do with wiring problems in the intake timing control valve solenoid. The problem can also be caused by incorrect camshaft timing or a broken valve control solenoid.

But if you’re lucky, the problem might only be caused by dirty oil or oil flow problems to the cam phaser. Since the system depends on oil pressure to switch between cam profiles, having dirty or sludgy oil will most often trigger the P0012 OBD2 trouble code.

P0012 fault code DTC explained

What are the symptoms of P0012 code?

Of course, the first sign is the presence of a check engine light or MIL. Due to the constantly retarded timing position, the engine might refuse to start. You will also notice hard starting and engine stalling depending on the severity of the problem.

This is box title

P0008, P0010P0011, P0012, P0014, P0016, P0022, are common to see if you’ve got gunk built up in your engine. Hopefully changing the oil fixes it. Otherwise you may have a seized engine!

But if the engine manages to start, everything will sound and feel uneasy. The motor will run rough, or might suddenly stall at any given speed. At this point, you will notice a significant drop in fuel mileage along with a strong smell in the exhaust.

How much does it cost to fix P0012 code?

The amount will depend on the severity or source of the problem. In some cases, the P0012 code is only caused by frayed or loose wiring. The mechanic will need to check all electrical connections in the camshaft sensor, oil control solenoid valve, and crank sensor. This also involves breaking the wiring harness to visually inspect all related wiring.

In the absence of wiring or electrical problems, the problem can also be fixed by a basic oil change. Remember to change the oil filter and use the recommended engine oil to avoid any problems in the future. If this is the case, you’ll only need to spend around $50.

Replacing the valve control solenoid will cost more money. If this is the case, prepare to spend anywhere from $150 to $300 in parts and labor. The cost might also include replacing the timing belt and tensioner.


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