If your car displays the P0011 engine code, you likely have a problem with your engine timing.
If you’re seeing engine code P0011 on your vehicle, it means the intake camshaft in Bank 1 is in the wrong position. Your intake camshaft controls whether the intake valves on your engine are open or shut. The intake camshaft is regulated by the Oil Control Valve (OCV), which in turn is run by the Engine Control Module (ECM).
Diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs) allow you to diagnose engine problems in your car easily. Once you’ve scanned your vehicle using an OBD-II code reader, you can use that specific code to figure out what’s wrong with your vehicle and what you need to do to fix it.
Here’s everything you need to know about the P0011 engine code, including what it means, how to handle it, and how much it might cost to repair your vehicle.
What does the P0011 Code Means?
By definition, P0011 is a diagnostic trouble code (DTC) for “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 the 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.
- The P0011 DTC stands for “A” Camshaft Position Timing Over Advanced or System Performance Bank 1.
- The code is set once your ride’s ECM/PCM is not able to detect the difference in the desired camshaft position angle and the actual camshaft position angle.
- It can be triggered by a faulty camshaft actuator, failed VVT solenoid, damaged timing components, and circuit issues.
- Low engine oil levels, oil contamination, and issues with the PCM can also trigger the code.
- If your ride’s computer logs a P0011 code, it’ll exhibit symptoms like poor idling, engine misfire, and stalling.
What are the Possible Causes of the P0011 Code?
Many different problems can trigger code P0011. Some of the common issues include:
- Faulty camshaft actuator (aka phaser)
- Failed VVT solenoid (aka oil control valve)
- Circuit issues (e.g., damaged wiring, loose connections)
- Damaged timing components (e.g., a stretched timing chain or broken guide)
- Low engine oil level
- Oil contamination or buildup causes the VVT oil flow control valve to stick.
- Issues with the PCM, such as software in need of an update
Although P0011 sounds a bit complicated, it can easily be triggered by a low oil level. So, the fix isn’t always an extensive engine repair.
What are the Common Symptoms of the P0011 Code?
If your vehicle is experiencing error code P011, you may observe one or more of the following symptoms:
- Check engine light turns on.
- Misfiring of engine
- Low fuel economy
- The engine gets stalled.
- There will be a rattling noise from the engine.
- Poor idling
- It won’t be easy to start the engine.
- Your car fails the emission test.
How Serious Is the P0011 Engine Code?
If you’re seeing engine code P0011, stop driving your vehicle immediately. A malfunction of your intake camshaft can lead to serious engine damage, especially if you keep driving around after your Service Engine Soon Light comes on.
Can I Fix the P0011 Engine Code Myself?
You may be able to fix engine code P0011 yourself, depending on the extent of the damage. Start by checking the oil in your vehicle. If the oil is low, top it off. If it’s dirty, change the oil and filter. Once you’ve done that, take your car for a short test drive to see if the problem is fixed.
If you’re still noticing engine trouble after you change your oil, look inside the oil cap or valve cover at the valve train where your intake camshaft is located. If you see sludge, there’s a good chance that your engine will have to be replaced.
If you don’t see any sludge, check the OCV to make sure it’s working properly.
How Does a Mechanic Diagnose the P0011 Code?
- A visual inspection to determine any electrical connector, wiring, or valve issues of the camshaft oil control valve for the bank 1 intake camshaft.
- Check the engine for it to be full of clean engine oil with the correct viscosity.
- The technician will scan and document the codes received and view the freeze frame data to see when the code was set.
- The codes should then be reset to clear the OBD-II fault codes and retest the vehicle to see if the P0011 code comes back.
- If the code returns, then the next step for the technician to do is to perform a manufacturer’s specific pinpoint test for the P0011 code and repair it as needed.
Note: Follow the manufacturer’s recommended pinpoint test to narrow down the problem since each engine may be tested differently and possible engine internal damage may be done if tests are not performed in accordance with a correct procedure.
Common Mistakes While Diagnosing the Code
It is common for you or the technician to make a mistake while diagnosing the P0011 code. So, follow these steps to avoid them.
- Always visually check common problems, such as confirming that all electrical connectors are connected.
- Inspect the level of engine oil and check whether it’s clean.
- Check, document, and reset error codes. Before performing any additional tests, verify that the code returns or not.
- To prevent misdiagnosis and the replacement of working components, follow the manufacturer’s pinpoint test procedures without skipping any steps.
- Replace any sensors or components only if tests reveal an issue.
Ways to Fix the P0011 Code
- Resetting the fault codes and performing a road test (best-case scenario).
- Completing an oil and filter change using the manufacturer-recommended oil viscosity.
- Repair/replace wiring and connectors on the oil control valve for your vehicle’s Bank 1 camshaft sensor (quick and inexpensive fix).
- Replacing the camshaft oil control valve for Bank 1 intake camshaft (somewhat costly in time and money).
- Checking the timing chain alignment for jumped timing problems (work intensive, but not necessarily expensive).
How Do I Fix Trouble Code P0011?
- Visually Inspect the System. Start with a visual inspection of the connector, wiring, and valve. Repair or replace any damaged components such as the valve control solenoid being stuck open.
- Check Your Oil. Check the condition of the engine oil. If it is too low or overly viscous, change your oil.
- Rescan the Codes. Scan your codes again and capture the freeze frame data. Following this, clear your codes and run the engine. Watch to see if the code returns or if the symptoms continue.
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How Much Does It Cost to Fix Code P0011?
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. It’s impossible to give an accurate estimate without properly diagnosing the issue first.
Once properly diagnosed, P0011 may require one or more of the following repairs to resolve the underlying issue. These prices are based on national averages and include parts and labor. Your cost may differ depending on your location and type of vehicle.
- Oil and filter change – $35 to $95
- Repair damaged wiring or connection – $50 to $550
- Replace VVT solenoid – $55 to $450.
- Replace camshaft actuator – $650 to $950.
- Replace timing belt or chain – $550 to $3,250.
- Update/replace PCM – $250 to $2,500
The engine oil passages through the camshafts and oil control valves are a specific size and only the manufacturer’s recommended oil viscosity should be used.
If too thick or thin oil is used, the camshaft timing phasers may not change the camshaft timing advance as the manufacturer’s designed them to and may cause premature failure of a camshaft and related engine components from lack of proper lubrication.