P0011 “A” Camshaft Position – Timing Over-Advanced or System Performance (Bank 1)

 

What Does Engine Code P0011 Mean?

The engine error code P0011 means that there is a problem with the variable valve timing in the engine. This OBD2 code refers to bank 1 camshaft timing. It is where the engine management software has detected that the camshaft rotation is not as advanced as it should be.

What Is Variable Valve Timing?

Many modern vehicles have engines that have variable valve timing (VVT). The valves can not open and close at the same time. However, they can be adjusted to improve performance under certain conditions. It may be advantageous to open the intake valves sooner and close them later at higher revs.

Different vehicle manufacturers use different variable timing systems. Honda was the pioneer of a type of variable valve timing called Cam-Changing VVT, with their VTEC (Valve Timing Electronic Control) system. There can be multiple sets or cams in this VVT system. They can all have different shapes, and they can be used at different RPMs.

Another type of system is called Cam-Phasing VVT. This is a simpler system that makes use of a special solenoid called a camshaft position actuator. This solenoid can regulate oil pressure by acting like a hydraulic actuator, controlling the flow of oil to camshaft actuator. It doesn’t control the length of time a valve is open, but can alter the timing of the opening.

What Are The Benefits Of Variable Valve Timing?

Slowing the camshaft timing results in better high RPM torque, whereas advancing the camshaft’s timing allows the engine to create more power at lower RPMs.

The ECU uses the camshaft position actuator for advancing or retarding camshaft timing depending on a myriad of factors and inputs from other engine sensors that continuously monitor the current state of the engine.

Variable valve timing has the potential to reduce emissions and improve fuel efficiency. The EGR (exhaust gases recirculation valve) can also be used to route exhaust gases back into the fuel/air mixture, reducing the fuel required for combustion.

The engine control unit monitors the camshaft phase angle and can adjust the oil pressure according to the ECU’s instructions. If the ECU detects a camshaft phase angle that is outside of the expected range, this can trigger the engine code P0011.

What Causes Engine Error Code P0011

Engine trouble code P0011 refers to the timing of the camshaft, and is usually triggered when the timing falls outside of specific parameters, and is in an over-advanced state.

P0011 is associated specifically with the “A” camshaft and is specific to bank 1 (cylinder 1). It is most commonly caused by insufficient engine oil pressure in the camshaft position actuator.

There can be many reasons for the ECU to register a P0011 code. Other error codes may also be present such as P0010 or P0012, and P0014 or P0016. Here is an explanation of the main causes of OBD 2 code P0011.

1. Oil Pressure Problems At The Actuator

If the oil pressure is not sufficient, this can affect the operation of the camshaft position actuator. Oil pressure can be affected for numerous reasons such as insufficient amount of oil in the engine, using the wrong viscosity oil, old and degraded oil, problems with the oil pump, damaged or worn oil filter or a worn engine.

2. Blocked Actuator Passage

If the oil supply to the actuator becomes blocked then this can trigger the error code P0011. The wear and tear of engine components can cause blockages in the actuator passage.

Failure to change engine oil at regular intervals is the main cause of a blocked actuator path. As engine oil ages it can change in viscosity and can collect debris and gunk that will clog the actuator passage, along with other vital engine components

3. Faulty Camshaft Sensor

Sometimes the problem lies with the camshaft sensor. Camshaft sensors work in conjunction with crankshaft sensors so that the ECU can accurately track the position of crankshaft and camshaft.

There are two main types of camshaft sensor. The design can be based on “optical”, “inductive”, or “Hall Effect” principles. Hall Effect sensors include a sensor with a permanent internal magnetic and a relay ring. The permanent magnet in the sensor creates an electric current when the camshaft rotates.

To control fuel delivery, ignition timing, and spark plug firing, the ECU receives the camshaft position signal. A faulty camshaft or crankshaft sensor may trigger a P0011 error code if the engine timing is affected.

4.Failed Valve Control Solenoid

The valve control solenoid itself can sometimes fail causing problems with the engine timing. The are a number of ways that the solenoid can fail, and its best practice to replace the solenoid with a new or refurbished unit rather than trying to fix it.

5. Damaged Camshaft Position Actuator Wiring Or Connector

Since the camshaft position actuator is controlled electronically, any damage to the wiring or plug connector is going to affect how it works.

Covers are usually used to protect the wiring harness feeding the actuator. However, damage to the wiring can occur slowly over time due to general wear and tear on the engine or can occur accidentally if a repair is being carried out to the engine.

What Are The Symptoms Of Error Code P0011

If there’s a problem with the variable valve timing of the engine then this will inevitably manifest as engine performance issues. Here are a few of the most common issues related to P0011.

1. Check Engine Light

Just like with any other engine issue, you can expect the check engine light to illuminate when the ECU detects a problem with engine timing.

check engine light flashing

2. Difficult To Start Engine

Any problem with the valve timing of the engine is going to make the engine difficult to start. The camshaft may be in an unsuitable position to allow the engine start.

3. The Engine Will Run Badly And May Stall

It goes without saying that if the engine timing is too advanced or delayed too much, then the engine is going to run very badly, if at all. Variable valve timing is more beneficial for engine performance, so the engine will perform less at low and high revs.

4. Reduced Fuel Economy And Greater Emissions

If the intake and exhaust valves are not operating as efficiently as they should then this will have an adverse affect on fuel economy leading to greater emissions.

How To Diagnose And Repair Engine Code P0011

Error code P0011 can be difficult to diagnose and may involve stripping down the engine to find the cause of the problem. Sometimes it is necessary to remove and check the condition of the camshaft position actuator or the valve control solenoid if there is no other obvious cause of the error code.

Before you carry out any major engine dismantling, it’s a good idea to do some basic checks that may remedy the problem.

1. Clear the error codes. Sometimes, error codes and check engine light can be triggered by unknown causes. Clearing them will solve the problem. You should also note any other error codes that may be causing the problem.

Take the vehicle for a quick drive if it is still running.

2. Make sure to check the oil levels and condition of your engine. Problems with valve timing and blocked actuators can be caused by engine oil conditions and viscosity.

low engine oil pressure
You should always double check the engine oil viscosity when topping up

If the oil has not been changed in line with manufacturer recommendations, then this is likely the source of the problem. Replace the engine oil with a high quality oil that is correct in viscosity.

If your oil has not been changed in a while, make sure you have enough oil.

3. Verify the wiring for the actuator and sensor. Locate the wiring harness that feeds the crankshaft sensor and camshaft sensors. Verify that the protective sheath of the cable is intact and there aren’t any breaks.

Check the wiring connectors to make sure that they are tightly fitted and that they are not damaged or dirty.

4. Clean and remove the crankshaft sensor and camshaft sensor.

If the ECU has recorded error codes P0340 or P0335 then it may point to a problem with the crankshaft and/or camshaft sensors.

Try to remove the sensors first and clean them with a solvent cleaner before you replace them. Make sure to clear any error codes and then take the vehicle on a short drive.

If none of the above steps permanently remove error code P0011, then the you will need to investigate further. Every vehicle is different. I generally start by removing camshaft position actuator to check if it is blocked.

You can also swap out the actuator and other sensors if you have the necessary parts. This will resolve the problem quickly.

How Much Does It Cost To Repair Error Code P0011

The cost of fixing error code P0011 can range from $40 to $2000 depending on the cause of the problem and the age of the vehicle.

Simple oil and filter changes can be as low as $50 to $100. If the problem is caused by a faulty crankshaft or camshaft sensor then this is also another relatively cheap fix, especially if you can repair it yourself.

These sensors generally cost between $50 and $80 to buy, and you can expect to pay a mechanic another $120 to fit a crankshaft or camshaft sensor.

If the problem lies with the camshaft itself or the actuator then you an expect to pay several hundred dollars in labor to a mechanic to get them to investigate further. A new or refurbished camshaft position actuator can cost anywhere from $100 to $1500 to purchase.

FAQ:

Q: What does the P0011 code? 

A: The P0011 code means that the engine control module (ECM) detected that the bank intake camshaft had advanced further than where it was supposed to.

Q: What are the possible causes of the P0011 code? 

A: Contaminated or low engine oil

Wrong engine oil viscosity

Damaged wiring or connector

Faulty variable valve timing (VVT) solenoid

Q: How do I fix the P0011 code? 

A: Scan the system with an OBDII reader and record the freeze frame data.

Clear the codes and perform a road test to see if they return.

Check the engine oil level and condition, and change it if needed.

Q: How can I prevent the P0011 code from happening again? 

A: Use the correct type and viscosity of engine oil recommended by the manufacturer.

Change the engine oil and filter regularly according to the maintenance schedule.

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