The P0016 error code concerns the camshaft and crankshaft—two important components within your vehicle’s engine. These two must be perfectly synchronized for the engine to function properly. So, if your vehicle develops an issue that causes these two to fall out of sync, your OBD-II scanner may trigger a P0016.
What Does the P0016 Code Mean?
Diagnostic trouble code (DTC) P0016 stands for Camshaft Position A – Camshaft Position Correlation (Bank 1). The P0016 code indicates that your car’s primary computer, which is also known as the powertrain control module (PCM), perceives the difference between the crankshaft position and camshaft position to be greater than specification.
The crankshaft and camshaft(s) are the primary rotating components inside the engine. When the vehicle is running, the camshaft opens and closes the valves to let air (and fuel in a port-injected system) into the engine and exhaust gases out.
Meanwhile, the crankshaft turns the linear motion from the pistons into the rotational force needed to propel your car.
A timing chain or timing belt connects the crankshaft and camshaft(s). The two must always be in sync—otherwise, the engine will either run poorly or not run at all.
The PCM determines the position of the two shafts using information from a crankshaft position sensor and camshaft position sensor(s). If from the sensor data, the PCM determines the crankshaft and camshaft(s) are not in sync, it will set code P0016 and turn on the Check Engine Light.
What are the Possible Causes of the P0016 Code?
When the PCM issues a code P0016, the car may be experiencing one of these issues:
- Stretched or damaged timing chain or timing belt
- Damaged camshaft or crankshaft reluctor wheel
- Bad crankshaft sensor
- Bad camshaft sensor
- Damaged wiring or loose connections
- Damaged timing chain/belt tensioners or guides
- Defective variable valve timing (VVT) actuator (aka phaser)
- Faulty variable valve timing (VVT) solenoid (aka oil control valve)
- A problem with the PCM, such as software in need of an update
- Low oil level
What are the Common Symptoms of the P0016 Code?
As with other OBD-II trouble codes involving the engine, the Check Engine Light will switch on to warn you about the problem.
Other signs of a code P0016 include:
- Engine cranks up but doesn’t start
- Engine experiences rough start-ups, even though it runs afterward
- Engine runs poorly despite starting up
- Rattling sounds from the engine
How to Diagnose the P0016 Code
Because P0016 has so many potential causes, it’s best to have a professional technician diagnose the issue. Technicians have the skill, experience, and equipment to quickly determine what’s triggering the P0016.
For example, they have oscilloscopes that can check the cam and crank patterns for signs of a bad sensor or a slipped tone ring.
However, if you have confidence in your auto repair skills, you can look for the cause of the P0016 code yourself. Here are a couple of videos to help you get an idea of what is involved in a P0016 OBD-II code diagnosis:
How to Fix the P0016 Code
OBD-II trouble codes rarely (if at all) have a one-size-fits-all solution—the same goes for the P0016 code. Therefore, possible fixes will depend on a variety of factors.
If you’re unsure about DIY repair skills, it’s best to consult with a mechanic. However, if you are confident in your know-how and want to attempt the fix on your own, repair manuals, such as those from Chilton, are a good resource.
You may also want to get an ALLDATA subscription if you’re serious about DIY auto repair. They have single-vehicle subscriptions for DIYers that provide detailed factory repair information.
Also, remember that every vehicle is different, so make sure to check your owner’s manual before attempting any repairs.