What is P0012 code? | What are the symptoms of P0012?

The P0012 code is a common OBD-II error code. P0012 is a diagnostic trouble code (DTC) for “Camshaft Position A – Timing Over-Retarded (Bank 1)”. This can happen for multiple reasons, and a mechanic needs to diagnose the specific cause for the P0012 code to be triggered in your situation. This article explains the causes, symptoms, and means of the P0012 trouble code.

Code P0012 Definition

  • P0012 Generic: Camshaft Position Intake—Timing Over-Retarded (Bank 1)
  • P0012 Mazda: CMP Timing Over Retard Right Side
  • P0012 Toyota: ‘A’ Camshaft Position Intake Timing Over-Retarded Bank 1
  • P0012 BMW: Intake Camshaft Position Timing Over-Retarded Bank 1
  • P0012 Ford: ‘A’ Variable Camshaft Timing Over Retarded Bank 1

What Does Code P0012 Mean?

P0012 is a generic powertrain code that reveals the engine control module (ECM) notices that the intake camshaft timing for bank 1 is different from where it should be.

Code P0012

The ECM is responsible for determining where this timing should be and sends an alert whenever it falls behind.

This timing issue happens during either the retarding or advancing phase of the camshaft’s positioning. It could also present itself with other trouble codes at the same time. 

When this happens, your engine’s beautiful orchestra falls out of sync. Intake and exhaust valves start to open at the wrong time (albeit a slightly wrong time), which throws off your engine’s performance and can damage various components.

 Symptoms of Code P0012

The first signal that something is wrong normally comes because the Check Engine Light illuminates. However, the P0012 code can cause a multitude of other symptoms, some of which are more noticeable than others. 

  • Check Engine Light illuminates
  • Additional misfiring codes (such as P0300through P0308)
  • Rougher engine performance
  • Stalling engine
  • Reduced fuel economy
  • Knocking/rattling from the motor
  • Failed emissions test

Causes of the P0012 Code

There are several reasons the P0012 code can occur. Some of them are easier to deal with than others, so it’s important to perform a complete inspection to figure out what’s going on, thereby resolving the fault and the initial cause.

Here are the most common causes of the P0012 trouble code:

  • Low engine oil
  • Inadequate oil flow to the variable camshaft timing (VCT) oil control valve (OCV).
  • Contaminated or dirty engine oil
  • Reduced oil pressure
  • Incorrect camshaft timing
  • Electrical short 
  • Defective intake valve timing solenoid
  • Bad oil control valve

Tools Needed to Diagnose Code P0012

These are the tools needed to diagnose and repair error code P0012;

  • OBD II scan tool
  • Oil pressure gauge
  • Fused jumper wire
  • Proper hand tools.

How to diagnose the P0012 code?

  • Visually checks the electrical connections to the camshaft sensor, oil control solenoid valve, and crankshaft sensor for loose connections, damaged wiring harness, or any other issues that may cause a problem.
  • Makes sure the engine oil is full of clean, correct viscosity oil.
  • 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 P0012 code comes back.
  • Commands the oil control solenoid valve on and off to see if the camshaft timing changes.
  • If no problems are noted, and the code still exists, then the next step for the technician is to perform a manufacturer’s specific pinpoint tests for the P0012 code and repair as needed.

How Serious is the P0012 Code?

  • The engine may run erratic, stall, hesitate, rough, or have a hard starting condition.
  • The engine may have excessive fuel consumption, carbon fouling of engine components, and various drive complaints depending on the camshaft’s failed position.
  • Driving the vehicle for a prolonged time with the camshafts not retarding may cause other problems to the valve train or engine, depending on the cause of the failure.

What repairs can fix the P0012 code?

The only way to determine the appropriate fix is first to figure out what’s causing the P0012 trouble code. Once you know that information, you will know what to do next. That’s why we discuss how to diagnose the problem a little further down in the article.

For now, here are a few common repairs you might need to consider.

  • Perform an oil change
  • Replace oil pump
  • Install new oil control valve
  • Replace camshaft actuator
  • Repair electrical issues
  • Replace intake valve timing solenoid
  • Replace the timing belt or chain

Can I drive my vehicle with a P0012 trouble code?

  • We do not recommend driving your vehicle with a P0012 trouble code. Fuel economy will be diminished, as well as your engine may show signs of hesitation and/or lack of power. Bank 1 of the engine is not running at optimum levels and may unnecessarily place an additional load on bank 2.
  • The check engine light or malfunction indicator lamp is illuminated while P0012 is recorded in the ECM.
  • Your vehicle will not be able to pass a smog check.

P0012 Repair Cost

Depending on what you find with your diagnosis, you may be able to repair the problem with one of the fixes we’ve listed. If so, here are some approximate repair costs, including parts and labor. 

  • Oil and filter change – $45-$75
  • New oil pump – $200-$1,500
  • New oil control valve – $150-$450
  • New camshaft actuator – $300-$1000
  • Repair electrical issues – $50-$500
  • Replace timing belt or chain – $1000 – $5000
  • New intake valve timing solenoid – $300-$550

Mechanics Tips about the P0012 Code

Many people overlook the obvious and move on to larger problems. For example, the wrong oil viscosity could cause the same problems, leading to serious engine damage.

If the oil is too thick, the system could malfunction, and issues could occur with the motor. If you are using the wrong oil, it doesn’t cost much to perform an oil change to see if that fixes the problem.

FAQ Section

What is the Code P0012 Definition?

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

Can dirty oil cause P0012?

Wrong oil viscosity can also trigger error code P0012. For instance, if the engine oil is too thick, it’ll not permit the camshaft timing control valve to function as it should, which will cause system malfunctions.

Can I drive with a P0012 code?

While driving with the P0012 fault code will not keep you on the road, do not continue driving with it. However, since camshaft timing plays a critical role in the overall engine operation, you’ll experience rougher idling, poor acceleration, stalling, hesitation, increased gas consumption, and rattling noise from the engine.

What is a camshaft position timing over-Retarded Bank 1?

This bunch of words means a malfunction in the camshaft timing. Let’s break it down.

Camshaft position timing over-retarded Bank 1 means the car computer had detected that the camshaft timing in the Bank 1 cylinder is set before or is retarded than the ECM desired it to be.

Will an oil change fix P0012?

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. Replacing your oil and filter usually fixes this P0012 OBD2 Trouble Code!

How much does it cost to fix p0012?

Most shops will charge between $75 and $150 to diagnose the problem, but repairs could be anywhere from a $20 oil change to an engine replacement that could run you into the thousands of dollars.

Read More
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