P0011 – Is Your Variable Valve Timing Out Of Sync?

by Conner Mckay

P0011 is a generic OBD-II code, used by all manufacturers. But more precisely, vehicles with variable camshaft timing, commonly known as variable valve timing, can be seen triggering this particular diagnostic code. Fair warning: if the P0011 OBD-II trouble code is not a one-off error, it probably signifies a significant issue.

This error code is stored by the engine control module (ECM) when it decides that the “Bank 1 Intake Camshaft” is positioned further advanced than the ECM intended. This problem can develop when the camshaft timing is advanced or retarded. In plain English, the ECM is signaling that the timing on the intake camshaft of your car is out of whack.

P0011 Code

The P0011 DTC code denotes “A Camshaft Position Timing Over Advanced” or “System Performance Bank 1”. The code indicates that a discrepancy between the target camshaft position angle and the actual camshaft position angle has been detected and cannot be corrected by the ECM/PCM. The cam and crank sensors show that it cannot attain the objective that it is programmed to aim for.

What about the code sections beginning with “A” and Bank 1 on some vehicles? In a straight or inline overhead camshaft engine, “A” usually refers to the intake camshaft. However, if the engine has a V shape, the “A” normally designates the bank 1 intake camshaft.

The conditions for when this code is set to vary significantly between manufacturers. However, a P0011 code indicates an advanced camshaft timing issue that is resistant to PCM commands.


The P0011 code is activated on bank 1 if the Engine Computer (ECM/PCM) detects that the cam timing is too advanced. It tries to set a target to rectify that incorrect angle. But the cam and crank sensors indicate the angle didn’t correct or didn’t correct quickly enough hence the code is put up.

Bank 1 is present in every engine. However, this circumstance on bank 2 on engines with two banks (V engines) will store a P0012 code. Always keep in mind that bank 1 is the side that contains the number 1 cylinder. Even four-cylinder inline engines exhibit this. P0012 and P0022 are the opposite codes (retarded camshaft timing), respectively.

How Serious Is the P0011 Code

Any vehicle with an ECM that displays the code P0011 has a problem that could seriously harm the engine. Although it may sound extreme, it is possible to damage a car’s engine since a P0011 error code eventually makes the vehicle less drivable.

Increased chances of the car engine stalling, running rough, or producing rattling noises are common repercussions of code P0011. Additionally, code P0011 decreases the engine’s performance in order to save fuel (and whether does driving faster use more gas), damages engine parts due to carbon buildup, and leads to failure.

Variable Valve Timing

The majority of vehicles on the road today have engines with variable valve timing. For many years, “Hot Rodders” would use a degree-marked cam gear to adjust the valve timing slightly out of specification for the best performance. This would increase engine performance by a few degrees.

The cam gear in variable valve timing systems is built to allow the cam gear and camshaft relationship to be altered “on the fly,” or while the engine is running and the car is being driven.

Some of the first VVT systems were installed on Ford Contours and Mazda 626 4-cylinder engines from the mid-1990s. These systems altered the exhaust valve timing to close the exhaust valves early while the engine was under load, allowing some of the inert exhaust gas to stay in the combustion chamber. This successfully lowered NOx emissions and did away with the requirement for EGR.

But soon after, variable intake valve timing was applied to improve the engine’s power curve, and it quickly took over as the norm. Today, VVT is present in the majority of engines.

VVT world in tandem with the ECM/PCM which closely monitors the cam/crank timing. An oil control solenoid is used to adjust the relationship between the cam gear(s) and camshaft in accordance with established algorithms.

The Mass Airflow Sensor (MAF), Throttle Position Sensor (TPS), Engine Coolant Sensor (ECT), and vehicle speed are all monitored by the engine controller in addition to the obvious cam and crank sensors (CMP and CKP).

The ECM/PCM calculates the ideal intake camshaft timing for a particular engine temperature, throttle angle, engine load, and speed using those inputs and their programming. The ECM/PCM continuously strives to maintain the desired camshaft angle. A DTC is saved if the target cannot be met.

Working Of VVT

Each actuator (one per bank) receives engine oil through an oil control solenoid that is controlled by the ECM/PCM. The actuators then change the camshaft position angle, which adjusts the valve timing. The actuator is often a unique gear with vanes so that the relationship between the gear and the camshaft it is driving can be altered by the oil pressure applied to the vane chambers.

When the solenoid ceases applying pressure to the vanes, the camshaft position actuator will typically bounce back to their default position. Be aware that not all actuators function the same because there are variances among different manufacturers.

It’s important to note that many automakers use various names for the VVT system and its various parts. Ford’s VVT technology is referred to as Twin Independent Variable Camshaft Timing, whereas Toyota refers to its system as Variable Valve Timing with Intelligence (VVT-i) (Ti-VCT). Ford also refers to the camshaft actuator as camshaft “phasers,” in contrast to the majority of other automakers.

P0011 Causes

A variety of circumstances might cause the onset of a P0011 code. Few, though, are as common as using oil with the wrong viscosity or low engine oil. This results from the fact that the driving input force for the cam phasing function is engine oil. As a result, problems with oil of any kind might quickly cause a P0011 code.

Cam phasing problems caused by inefficient engine oil are so frequent. Hence, the typical repair process comprises replacing the oil in the affected car and erasing the corresponding code. The car in issue is then put through a test drive to make sure the error code is gone for good.

Clogging of the oil solenoid passages and electrical problems with the system are other P0011-related problems. The damaged engine’s camshaft may be unable to phase correctly as a result of either of these problems. The oil control solenoid of the system must frequently be removed and inspected if either of these problems is suspected.

The first things to check include-

  • The camshaft is more advanced beyond the timing set by the ECM, according to the camshaft and crankshaft sensors. This can indicate a problem with the wiring, connectors, or sensors rather than a problem with the timing or position of the intake camshaft.
  • When the ECM instructs the camshaft to retard to a lower timing level, the intake camshaft is physically too advanced. In other words, the coding is accurate and the cause is mechanical, not electrical.
  • The Bank 1 camshaft’s oil control solenoid could be clogged or jammed.
  • Due to the engine oil’s excessive viscosity, there is insufficient oil flow to and from the camshaft phasers. Hence the mechanism becomes stuck.
  • Phasers on the camshaft are stuck in the advanced setting.

P0011 Symptoms

Fortunately (or regrettably, depending on the cause), you won’t even need to pull trouble codes to identify this problem. The following are some typical signs:

  • The ECM of your car will attempt to restart the camshaft while turning on the check engine light.
  • The engine can have trouble starting if the camshaft is locked in an advanced or retarded position.
  • As an effective engine operation is prevented by misaligned camshafts, your fuel efficiency will suffer dramatically.
  • Depending on the camshaft position and timing misalignment, running rough, reluctance during acceleration, and stalling are all potential problems.
  • In most cases, your car will fail most emissions tests.

P0011 Diagnostics

Old oil, the camshaft variable timing solenoid, the camshaft phaser, and other factors may all contribute to the appearance of the trouble code P0011. You should adhere to the procedures below for an accurate diagnosis if you want to attempt to fix code P0011 at home without spending money on parts.

Remember that this is an intermediate-level diagnosis and repair, so beginners should avoid attempting it. Beyond oil level and condition, diagnosis necessitates more specialist tools than this guide can offer, and for novice DIYers, it can be a time- and labor-intensive operation.

DIY Diagnostics

Sometimes topping up your engine’s oil will solve the P0011 error. However, depending on which component is the problem, extreme situations could run into hundreds of dollars. It’s best to leave timing problems to the experts, but if you’re a DIY enthusiast when it comes to fixing your car, here’s a troubleshooting process to follow:

  • Always perform a visual inspection of any and all electrical connector, wiring, and valve issues for the camshaft oil control valve on the bank 1 intake camshaft before addressing the trouble code. Although it’s not always the cause of an error code, it occurs much more frequently than most people realize.
  • Do an oil change so that you have clean oil and a clean filter installed if you haven’t changed the oil in a while or if you use different viscosities during different seasons.
  • Check your freeze-frame data to confirm the time the code was first set. Then scan and record all trouble codes that are saved in the ECM.
  • If the P0011 code reappears, clear the OBD-II fault codes and retest the car.
  • Check online manufacturer maintenance manuals and known issue documents if the P0011 does occur again. Your ECM’s firmware or software may also have been updated to address the problem. In order to identify the reason for numerous issue codes, diagnostics must also adhere to vehicle-specific protocols.


Take your car in for repair immediately away if you are unable to identify the source on your own or if the issue reappears. If it’s not a straightforward problem like this, you might want to make an appointment with your neighborhood repair shop to get it looked at. If timing problems are not fixed, they may harm the engine.


  • Inspect all electrical connectors, wire harnesses, and sensors to look for common issues. The most common reason why do-it-yourself car mechanics waste time and money replacing or repairing parts is skipping this step.
  • Don’t forget to change your oil, and make sure your engine is running with the manufacturer-recommended oil viscosity.
  • Test for fault codes repeatedly. They can occasionally be an isolated anomaly.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s pinpoint diagnosis instructions carefully. Skipping steps could result in the wasteful replacement of perfectly good (and expensive) parts.
  • If the troubleshooting procedure and manufacturer instructions don’t indicate that a sensor replacement is necessary, don’t assume it will fix the problem. If there is a timing issue and you only replace the sensor, you run the risk of causing severe systemic issues and possible engine damage.

P0011 Repair Process

To determine the root cause and make any required repairs, you must appropriately diagnose the code. And keep in mind that every car is unique. Check the factory repair information for your application before investigating and fixing diagnostic fault codes. Repair manuals include thorough factory repair information that can enable you to complete the task.

Engine inefficiency is to be anticipated whenever a vehicle has an active P0011 fault code. As a result, there is frequently a decrease in fuel efficiency and a loss of power. Stalling and starting issues are possible side effects. This has the effect of lowering reliability to a point that some people could find bothersome.

It is crucial to use a diagnostic scan tool to look for any more fault codes before moving on to the next diagnostic stage. Also, think about what part any other active or stored codes might have played in the emergence of code P0011 if they are present. It could be essential to examine factory repair manuals to figure out which code is more important.

Step #1: Changing Oil And Filter

Changing your car’s engine oil and oil filter is the first thing you should do when trying to diagnose a P0011 fault code. Make sure the oil in your engine is fully topped off and that the right viscosity is selected. Up to 75% of P0011 DTCs can be fixed with a straightforward oil change.

Step #2: Test Drive

After changing the oil in your car, use your scan tool to remove the code P0011 from the PCM. A moderately long test drive will come next to make sure the faulty code does not appear again. If P0011 does not appear again, the current problem has probably been resolved. Further diagnostics will be needed if the code reappears.

Step #3: Checking For Wiring Faults

The Bank 1 oil control solenoid wiring needs to be checked if the fault code P0011 returns. Every piece of wiring needs to be thoroughly inspected for signs of fraying, breakage, and squeezed areas. If any such flaws are discovered, repairs will be required.

Step #4: Factory Pinpoint Testing

An engine’s cam phasers or hydraulic control valves become questionable if no electrical issues are found. However, until additional diagnostics are finished, no such component should be declared unfit. Each manufacturer has a different exact process for confirming the integrity of these components. Consequently, factory service manuals should be consulted for assurance.

Step #5: Replacing The Oil Control Valve

Replacement is necessary if factory testing reveals the presence of a faulty oil control valve. Once more, this process will vary depending on the model of the vehicle. Finding the precise service procedure recommended by the manufacturer of your vehicle is therefore advised before getting started.

Repair Cost

Once the underlying problem has been correctly identified, the P0011 code may need one or more of the following repairs. These costs, which incorporate both parts and labor, are based on national averages. Depending on your region and the sort of car you drive, the cost could vary.

Oil changes can cost anything from $20 to $60. While an engine overhaul or replacement engine can cost anywhere between $2,500 and $4,000, replacing the oil control valve or VVT control solenoid only costs about $400.

P0011 Chevy

P0011 Chevy: Intake Valve Timing Control Performance Bank 1 – This demonstrates that the camshaft position angle is out of the intended range.

The variable valve timing system in Chevy automobiles improves fuel economy and engine performance by controlling when the intake and exhaust valves open and close. The oil control valve(s), also known as variable valve timing control solenoid valves, are used by the engine computer to regulate the camshaft(s).

When Bank 1’s intake camshaft is advanced beyond what the engine computer has instructed it to be, fault code P0011 is set in your Chevy. There are some specific models that are more prone to this issue which is listed below.

P0011 Chevy Equinox

The P0011 fault trouble code is a common one affecting the variable valve timing in the Chevy Equinox. The VVT is a component that will alter the distribution and frequency of gases that enter and exit the combustion chamber. It improves power and fuel efficiency and enables the car to move between the two in order to offer the optimum compensation.

Rough idling, lower fuel efficiency, an illuminated check engine light, and problems starting the car are some symptoms of a defective VVT. The issues might be brought on by a poor intake camshaft position actuator, faulty intake camshaft or engine timing, dirty or insufficient oil, and shorts in the wiring.

P0011 Chevy Malibu

OBD II diagnostic error code P0011 is a frequent (and serious) one that can show up in the Chevy Malibu. It suggests a problem with the Variable Valve Timing (VVT) system in your car. The Chevy Malibu‘s official technical description of P0011 is “A” Camshaft Position Timing Over Advanced or System Performance (Bank 1).

P0011 Chevy Silverado

Error code P0011 is a common one that can show up in the Chevy Silverado. It suggests a problem with the Variable Valve Timing (VVT) system in your truck. When you receive this code, the first thing you should do is check the oil in your Silverado. The oil level must be sufficient for the camshaft actuators to function correctly.

P0011 Nissan

P0011 Nissan: Intake Camshaft Position System Performance – This indicates a problem with the control for the intake valve timing (IVT).

Dirty oil can cause the Intake valve timing control solenoid valve to become stuck open or closed since it relies on oil flow to regulate timing. Change the engine oil and filter and reset the engine code prior to replacing the valve. If the error code reappears, you can take out the intake valve timing control solenoid and clean it with a brake cleaner.

Final Conclusion

For most car owners, seeing P0011 should result in an immediate trip to the repair shop. It’s a complicated problem that calls for in-depth knowledge of engine timing and previous experience fixing issues of this nature. Missing a step or an essential element could result in costly repairs, and waiting for the problem to go away could cause a breakdown or serious engine damage.

Do yourself a favor and bring your car in right away so a professional can examine it. No matter how you look at it, there is no straightforward solution to this. It is best to be certain, even if it is merely a wiring or connector issue. Long-term neglect of the P0011 code may result in problems with the engine’s valvetrain or other components.

Frequently Asked Questions

How To Fix Code P0011

Your vehicle’s engine oil and oil filter should be changed as a first step when attempting to diagnose a P0011 fault code. Ensure that the oil in your engine is filled to the recommended level and that the right viscosity of oil is used.

How Much Does It Cost To Fix P0011

Depending on the root of the issue and the age of the car, the cost to repair error code P0011 might be anywhere from $40 and $2000. A straightforward oil and filter change may cost only between $50 and $100 at the low end of the spectrum.

What Is P0011 Code

According to the OBD-II generic code P0011, the engine control module (ECM) has detected that the bank 1 intake camshaft is further advanced than what the ECM has instructed it to be. This over-advanced issue may occur when the camshaft timing is advanced or delayed.

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