The P0011 is a generic OBD-II code, which means it is common across all manufacturers. But more specifically, this specific fault code can be triggered in vehicles with variable camshaft timing, also known as variable valve timing.
Read our guide below to learn more about this error code and to find out how to address it.
What Does the P0011 Code Mean?
This diagnostic trouble code (DTC) stands for “A” Camshaft Position Timing Over Advanced or System Performance Bank 1. The code indicates that your car’s computer has detected a difference in the desired camshaft position angle and the actual camshaft position angle.
The camshaft angle is only adjustable on engines that have a technology called variable valve timing (VVT).
What about the “A” and Bank 1 portions of the code? Well, “A” typically refers to the intake camshaft in a straight or inline overhead camshaft engine. On the other hand, if the engine uses a V configuration, the “A” usually refers to the intake camshaft on bank 1.
And that brings us to the Bank 1 portion of the code. Bank 1 refers to the side of the engine that houses the number one cylinder (only applies to engines with a V or boxer configuration).
What is Variable Valve Timing?
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s talk a little more about variable valve timing (VVT). In a conventional engine, valve timing is fixed. But in a VVT system, valve timing can be adjusted on demand by altering the camshaft specifications. Having this ability can lead to increased power, improved fuel economy, or both.
Tailpipe emissions can be reduced, as well.
Most VVT systems use camshaft actuators and oil control solenoids to modify valve timing. You’ll find an actuator mounted to each VVT-equipped camshaft drive gear or sprocket. The car’s computer operates the oil control solenoids, which direct oil flow to the camshaft actuators.
Then the oil acts on each actuator, which in turn, modifies the camshaft position angle, thereby adjusting valve timing.
It’s worth noting that different automakers refer to the VVT system, as well as the individual VVT components, by different names. Toyota, for example, calls its VVT system, Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i); Ford calls its system Twin Independent Variable Camshaft Timing (Ti-VCT).
Also, unlike most other automakers, Ford refers to camshaft actuators as camshaft “phasers.”
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 causing 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:
- Illuminated Check Engine Light
- Engine stalling
- Poor idling
- Difficulty in starting the engine
- Poor fuel economy
- Engine misfire
- Failed emission test
- Rattling noise from the engine
How to Diagnose the P0011 Code
When it comes to the proper diagnosis of OBD-II codes, you may want to leave it to the professionals. But if you’re pretty handy and have the right tools on hand, you can check out the videos below.
Keep in mind that it can be difficult to diagnose and pinpoint the exact cause of most OBD-II codes, as they can have numerous possible causes. Here are some tutorials to help guide you as you diagnose your P0011 error code:
How to Fix the P0011 Code
As with most OBD-II trouble codes, there’s not one single fix for a P0011. There are a variety of possible causes, as outlined above, which means there are different avenues of repair.
You’ll need to diagnose the code accurately to find out the underlying cause and perform any necessary repairs. And remember—all vehicles are different. When troubleshooting and repairing diagnostic trouble codes, make sure to consult the factory repair information for your application. Repair manuals, such as those from Chilton and ALLDATA provide detailed factory repair information that could help you pull off the job.
Other Notes About Code P0011
Fixing the P0011 code could sometimes be as simple as topping off your engine oil. However, severe cases may cost you thousands of dollars depending on which component is causing the problem.
An oil change ranges from $20 to $60. Replacing the oil control valve or VVT control solenoid, on the other hand, costs around $400, and an engine overhaul will cost anywhere between $2,500 to $4,000.