If you’re looking for ways to fix a P0013 code, read on for more information on its definition, causes, and symptoms.
What Does the P0013 Code Mean?
Diagnostic trouble code (DTC) P0013 stands for “Exhaust “B” Camshaft Position Actuator Circuit/Open (Bank 1). It’s a generic OBD-II code that relates to the variable valve timing (VVT)—also known as variable camshaft timing—components.
In a traditional engine, valve timing is fixed. But in an engine with VVT, the camshaft position can be adjusted, thereby altering valve timing. The result is improved performance, increased fuel economy, or both.
The primary components within the VVT system are the camshaft actuators (also known as phasers) and the VVT solenoids (also known as camshaft position actuator solenoid valves).
The camshaft position actuator solenoid valve controls the oil flow to the actuator, which in turn, advances or retards the camshaft.
Solenoid operation is controlled by the car’s primary computer, also known as the powertrain control module or PCM. The P0013 code gets logged if it perceives a problem with the camshaft actuator solenoid or its circuit.
To learn the possible causes of P0013, read the next section.
For a technical discussion of how the camshaft actuator works, read our explanation here.
What are the Possible Causes of the P0013 Code?
Manufacturers may have different names for the P0013 code, and the possible causes may differ depending on the make and model of your car.
Here are the most common causes of an exhaust camshaft position actuator solenoid valve control circuit problem or code P0013:
- Bad VVT solenoid (aka oil control valve)
- Problems with the VVT solenoid control circuit (windings or wiring)
- Issues with the PCM, such as a pending software update
- Contaminated engine oil obstructing the VVT solenoid screen. NOTE: This is a common occurrence! Regular OEM specified oil change intervals using exactly the right kind of oil and always allowing the engine to reach operating temperature on every start will reduce the probability of the sludge that causes this.
What are the Common Symptoms of the P0013 Code?
A bad camshaft position actuator solenoid valve control circuit often comes with symptoms that you should never ignore or prolong.
With a P0013, here are the signs you should watch out for:
- Problems starting the engine
- Poor mileage
- Engine running rough
- Engine performance issues
- Engine hesitates and stalls
- Rattling noise from the engine
How to Diagnose the P0013 Code
To resolve the P0013 error code, you’ll need to determine its exact cause, which can prove challenging. If you are not confident with your DIY automotive repair skills, it’s best to leave the task to your trusted mechanic. Otherwise, you can track down the code and determine what’s causing it by performing your own diagnosis.
To get an idea of how to pinpoint the cause of your P0013 code, watch this helpful video:
How to Fix the P0013 Code
Because various issues can trigger the P0013 code, it can be quite difficult to resolve it. The solution varies based on its exact cause and the vehicle’s make and model.
For example, the documented solutions to a P0013 code in a Chevy Equinox include replacing the exhaust camshaft actuator solenoid and intake camshaft actuator solenoid or replacing just the former. However, these Chevy fixes for a P0013 aren’t universal and may not work for other makes and models that experience this code.
If you are confident with your automotive know-how, you can address the issue yourself by doing some research—perform an accurate diagnosis, then do some research on potential fixes for your specific vehicle.
How does the Camshaft Actuator Work?
The ECM/PCM sends a “pulse width” signal to the solenoid. That means it turns the solenoid on and off really fast. The longer the solenoid is on during each pulse, the more oil pressure is delivered to the actuator.
The cam sensor (CMP) on the bank being controlled closes the feedback loop so the ECM/PCM can determine how much camshaft advance is needed (depending on engine load, speed, etc.) and how well the camshaft is actually being controlled by the action of the solenoid.
The ECM/PCM sets a target (desired) angle for the camshaft and then duty cycles the solenoid, delivering oil pressure to the camshaft actuator within the camshaft drive gear to change the relationship of the gear to the camshaft.
If that angle change doesn’t happen, the ECM/PCM increases the solenoid’s duty cycle (turns it on for a larger percentage of the time), attempting to meet that cam angle target. If the duty cycle consistently goes too high (struggling to meet the target), the ECM/PCM sets the P0013 code.
A simpler cause for this P0013 might be that the ECM/PCM detects an electrical issue with the solenoid circuit or winding; the circuit and solenoid winding are the easiest things to check first.
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