P0013 – How To Diagnose This VVT Problem?

by Conner Mckay

Have you started noticing the check engine light and you have diagnosed the P0013 code on your car? If this is the case, then you are at the right place because there will be a lot to cover on this topic where we will elaborate on everything in detail.

Having a problem like this can be a really frustrating thing to deal with. Why I’m saying this? Well, this is the case because you have a problem with your variable valve timing system on the engine. So, there could be problems that will pop up when this system is not properly working on your vehicle.

In other words, there will be a ton of symptoms when you experience this code, besides the check engine light. But more of these symptoms, we are going to cover in the next chapters of this article.

First, we will focus on the basics of car diagnostics and learn more about how you can tackle these problems and what tools you will be needing to get things right. Then we will cover the P0013 code and we will learn the meaning of this code and its definition.

Then we will take a look at the causes of this problem as well as the symptoms of the P0013 code. After this, we will cover the diagnostics as well as the P0013 repair cost. So, if you want to learn more, follow along.

P0013 Code

Now before we cover the P0013 code and its meaning, let’s first focus more on the basics of car diagnostics. I bet that there are people who are reading this that are not into cars and want to learn the basic stuff when it comes to this problem and how to solve it. If you want you can jump to one of the next chapters, if not, keep up with us for a bit.

In the past, cars were really simple, the engines were basic and did not have a lot of complex mechanisms like nowadays. Nowadays even the core concepts of understanding how a system works can be really confusing. Namely, the VVT system. Which is the variable valve timing system.

Almost all modern cars that implement the overhead camshaft design are implementing this system. This is a complex system that works with the help of oil pressure inside the engine.

It has the sole goal to adjust the position of the camshafts based on the working conditions. The PCM decides when to activate this system and allows you to use the benefits of variable valve timing.

This system is not something that you want to break. It can be a real pain to diagnose and sort the problem out because you need some specialist equipment to do so.

First, you will need to diagnose the car with an OBD2 scanner and see what type of codes you get. If there is a P0013 code or some other code. Then you will need a multimeter to check the electrical circuits of the VVT solenoid as well as the harness. These are the essentials when it comes to diagnosing a problem like this. More on the meaning of the P0013 code, in the next chapter.

P0013 Exhaust Camshaft Position Actuator Circuit / Open (Bank 1)

Now as we covered the basics of car diagnostics, more precisely the variable valve timing or VVT system and the tools that you will need to diagnose a code P0013 or any other problem concerning this system. Let’s now focus on this code precisely. What is the P0013 code meaning and what this code represents? What is its definition? Let’s elaborate.

The P0013 is a DTC trouble code that stands for “P0013 Exhaust Camshaft Position Actuator Circuit / Open (bank 1)”. But what does all this means?

Well, this means that there is a short in the circuit of the exhaust camshaft actuator solenoid. All this might be really confusing to you but you shouldn’t worry.

Let’s put things this way. The actuator is the component that is located in the camshaft control pulley. This actuator is the core of the VVT system also known as variable valve timing. This actuator basically alters the position of the camshaft to improve the fuel economy as well as the performance of the car.

The second most important is the oil control valve that sends the oil into this actuator to activate either the exhaust or intake camshaft.

Inside this valve, there is the component that tells the VVT when to turn on based on the input from the PCM. And this is the camshaft actuator solenoid. And that component we are going to cover in the next chapter since it is really important to know its role when it comes to diagnosing the P0013 code.

Camshaft Actuator Solenoid

Now before we cover the causes for the P0013 code, let’s elaborate more on the camshaft actuator solenoid. Since this is the main component that we are interested in in this case. So, what is a camshaft actuator solenoid?

Well, this is a solenoid electronic device. This means that it is one enclosed circuit that is used to control the oil flow into the variable valve timing. On each camshaft, there is one of these solenoids that control the flow of oil. So, if you have a dual overhead camshaft engine (DOHC), this means that there are two solenoids.

In our case, the P0013 code means that the solenoid on the exhaust camshaft has a faulty electrical circuit.

There are two points that this solenoid opens. One point serves to advance the timing and the second to retard the timing of the camshaft.

As with every other electronic device, the camshaft actuator solenoid is really prone to failures. Especially after a ton of miles and years on it. So, replacing it is a no-brainer if it’s faulty. But this isn’t always the case with the P0013 code since there could be more causes for this problem. And that’s what we are going to cover in the following chapters.

Causes For The P0013 Code

Now as we covered the basics of car diagnostics and learned the P0013 code meaning, let’s separate a few chapters for the probable causes of this code.

As you probably know, everything happens for a reason. So, this is the case with the P0013 code. These causes are closely related to the camshaft position actuator solenoid. It could be a few reasons behind this. Now let’s cover them in-depth.

1. Bad Camshaft Position Actuator Solenoid

The first and most obvious cause for a P0013 code is a faulty actuator solenoid, also known as a VVT solenoid. This is the case when the solenoid has failed all of a sudden and stopped working.

This could be attributed to age and miles. Also, less frequent oil changes and sludgy oil can greatly ruin the performance of this sensor and basically ruin the component.

This is why frequent oil changes and also using the right oil type (make sure you also know what kind of oil does my car take) for your car are essential when it comes to this type of component and preserving them and making them last for the years to come. Now let’s learn the next probable cause for the P0013 code.

2. Bad Camshaft Position Actuator Solenoid Circuit

The next probable cause for the P0013 code that we would like to discuss is the circuit of the solenoid.

If you are not how solenoids work, there is a solenoid coil inside of these components that create an electromagnetic field with the help of electric current.

So, this means that this solenoid is not as simple a as regular sensor. This component is far more complex because it constantly has to open and close to allow good oil pressure inside of the VVT actuator in order to advance or retard the position of the camshaft.

Sometimes the electrical circuit inside of this sensor can fail and this will cause the sensor to malfunction. Like in our case with the P0013 code, it is the main reason why this code can appear. As you can notice in the description of the code, it says “P0013 Exhaust Camshaft Position Actuator Circuit / Open (bank 1)”. Meaning that the circuit of the solenoid is constantly open.

And this is doing nothing good to the proper work of the VVT system. But more on the symptoms that you will probably face, later in the article after we cover all the different reasons why this code occurs.

3. Problems With The Wiring Harness And Connectors

Another probable cause for a P0013 code can be a problem with the wiring harness. The wiring harness can fail and cause a code like this.

Wires are constantly exposed to the elements and the heat that is created inside of the engine bay. So, the rubber coating on the wires can fail and cause them to short.

Whenever you have a short in the wiring you might have a situation with open-circuit all of the time. That’s why it is often advised that you check the connector for possible rust buildup. As well as if you get a proper signal from the PCM to the solenoid.

You can do this with a multimeter tool. There are a ton of resources that you could use to find a solution for this problem and ways to measure the values and hopefully sort the P0013 camshaft position actuator code. Later on, in this article, we are going to explain how it is done the right way.

4. Bad Timing Components

Bad timing components can also be a cause for the P0013 code. But which are these timing components?

Well, these components include the components that are in charge of the engine timing. Which are the timing belt or chain depending much on the car that we are talking about.

Then there are the pulleys or tensioners also depending much on the type of engine that we talking about because it really depends if this is a chain-driven or a belt-driven engine. These two are both different philosophies but they both do the same job actually.

In addition to this, the camshaft pulley and the actuator itself can be faulty in some cases and can attribute to a problem like this with the code P0013. So, beware of this.

5. Bad Fuse

Simple things such as a blown fuse can also cause a problem with the solenoid and the P0013 code or another code concerning this component.

There are a ton of fuses in each car that serve different purposes. And so is the case with the VVT system. There are fuses for it to protect it when it malfunctions and prevent a simple short in the system to cause damage to components and fires in some more extreme cases.

This is why you need to check the fusebox first and see if the fuses concerning this system are working correctly. If there are some blown fuses, replace them with new ones, that could be the solution for the camshaft actuator solenoid.

6. Clogged VVT Solenoid Screen By Oil Sludge

Now let’s cover another probable cause for this issue with the P0013 code. And that is a problem with the screens of the solenoid.

These screens can be obstructed by dirty or thick oil. So, whenever these screens are clogged. The solenoid might not work correctly.

Your best bet before you try to replace the solenoid is to clean it together with the valve. Then do an oil flush and leave the engine to run like this. After the engine runs for a while, clear all of the codes. If the code doesn’t appear anymore, you will be good to go.

If not, the solenoid or the wiring is probably faulty and needs to get checked with a multimeter tool. But more on that later on in the article after we cover the symptoms that you will experience when you have a P0013 code.

Symptoms Of The P0013 Camshaft Position Actuator Circuit

We have covered all the probable causes for the P0013 code and the problem with the camshaft actuator solenoid. Now let’s focus more on the symptoms that you will experience when you have a P0013 code.

Behind every faulty component, there are certain symptoms that will be present. And more on them in the next chapters.

1. Check Engine Light

Now let’s cover the first symptom that you will notice when you have a problem like the P0013 code. And that is the check engine light.

Since you are already here, you are probably aware of this symptom. But it is worth noting that other codes can appear whenever you have a problem with the VVT system on bank 1. They include P0010, P0011, P0012, P0013, and P0015.

This means that there are 5 codes in total that can appear for bank 1 depending on the problem including the one that we discuss which is P0013.


But what it’s worth noting is that the other codes usually indicate a problem in the measurement of the position of the camshaft. They report that the camshaft timing is either over-advanced or over retarded. Now let’s move to the next symptom.

2. Poor Engine Performance

The second symptom associated with the P0013 code is poor engine performance. If the solenoid on the exhaust camshaft is not working like in our case, you will experience some poor performance.

The engine will produce frequent misfires and will run very rough. This might also cause damage to other components like spark plugs, valves, and other important bits and pieces.

Variable valve timing is an integral system and any malfunction concerning it should not be ignored by the owner which is you in this case. You need to fix the issue as soon as possible if you don’t want this problem to become even bigger.

3. Increased Fuel Consumption

The last symptom that we are going to cover when it comes to the P0013 code is the increased fuel consumption. You are probably aware of the variable valve timing and its task, which is to increase the performance and reduce the fuel consumption.


Whenever this system is not working, you can expect that there will be also increased fuel consumption besides the low performance produced by the engine. So, you should not ignore this problem and try to sort it out accordingly. But how you can do this work and diagnose this issue? Let’s elaborate more on that in the following chapter.

How To Diagnose The P0013 Code?

Now we came to the important bit. And that is the diagnostics process. How you can diagnose the code P0013 Toyota Camry? The short answer is with an OBD2 scanner tool and a multimeter. These two tools are really essential when it comes to this type of problem.

The first things that you want to check are the codes. Scan the car for codes and see what type of codes you get. Based on this code you will be able to locate the exact solenoid that you are looking for. So, in our case, the code P0013 is because of the exhaust camshaft solenoid.

Once you located the solenoid, just unplug the connector that is holding this solenoid and remove it from its place.

Then you need to check the connections and see if there is rust buildup on them and see if the contacts are clean. If they are not clean, just clean them off with alcohol or some cleaner that is designed for electronics.

The next thing you want to clean is the camshaft actuator solenoid itself. Just get a carburetor cleaner and spray it really well. This will guarantee that you will remove all the dirt and debris from this component that could prevent it from working properly.

Then after cleaning you can test it out and see if it works well. If the component keeps malfunctioning, then you can move on to bench testing the wiring as well as the solenoid itself. You can do this either with a switch or alligator clips like in the video above. Or with a multimeter. Either way works.

If you solved the problem by cleaning the solenoid, you can replace the engine oil. Just for a good measure to make sure that this problem with the P0013 code does not repeat itself.

P0013 Repair Cost

So, what does the P0013 repair cost? Well, the answer to this question really depends on what is causing the problem itself.

The diagnostics will probably cost you somewhere in the range of $100 to $150. If you decide to do this at a shop.


The fix for this problem depends much on the solenoid of the actuator. If it’s not faulty, a good cleaning will do the trick. But if this component is faulty and broken. Then you will have to replace it. The cost for the part alone is somewhere between $130 and $250 depending on the make and model. Also, the cost for the labor will cost you between $50 to $150.

P0013 Code: Facts You Need to Know

  1. P0013 is an OBD-II generic code that indicates an open or short circuit in the bank 1 exhaust camshaft oil control valve (OCV).
  2. The ECM may command the OCV to less than 80% duty cycle and output 100%, or command the OCV up to 70% and output less than 3%, causing the P0013 code.
  3. The OCV or wiring to the bank 1 exhaust camshaft may be shorted out or have an open circuit, causing the P0013 code.
  4. Symptoms of the P0013 code include a Check Engine Light, hard start condition, reduction in fuel mileage, and rough engine operation.
  5. Diagnosis of the P0013 code involves checking electrical connector, wiring, or valve issues of the camshaft oil control valve, scanning computer codes, documenting freeze frame data, and following the manufacturer’s recommended pinpoint test procedures.
  6. Common mistakes when diagnosing the P0013 code include not doing a visual inspection for common problems, not checking engine oil, not testing the system to verify the code coming back, and not following the manufacturer’s pinpoint test procedures.
  7. The P0013 code can be serious, causing the engine to run rough and stall, worsening fuel consumption, and damaging the ECM if driven for a prolonged time with the circuit shorted.
  8. Repairs that can fix the P0013 code include resetting the fault codes, repairing or replacing the wiring to the exhaust camshaft oil control valve, replacing the camshaft oil control valve, or replacing the ECM.
  9. The code P0013 problems can happen when the OCV has an open circuit or the connector has corrosion that acts like an open circuit in the valve.
  10. The valve could also short internally to the case of the OCV and stick in the open position, causing the camshaft to stick in the full advance position and lead to stalling.


In this article, we have covered quite a bit when it comes to the P0013 code. We learned the basics of car diagnostics, then we covered the meaning of the P0013 code and the main causes for this code as well as the symptoms.

The main cause is a clogged or faulty solenoid on the exhaust camshaft. The solution is either to give it a good clean and see if it works or to replace the component.


Now let’s answer some frequently asked questions.

What Does Code P0013 Mean

This code means that you have a problem with the solenoid of your VVT system. More precisely the one on the exhaust camshaft that is stuck in an open position. This means that either the circuit has shorted or the component is not working or possibly there is too much dirt accumulated in it and needs to be cleaned.

How Do I Fix Code P0013

Fixing this code can be done by cleaning the actuator solenoid with a carburetor cleaner. Make sure that it opens and closes correctly. If this doesn’t help, you should check the wiring and the solenoid with a multimeter and replace the solenoid if it’s faulty.

What Is The Cost To Fix P0013 Code

The average cost for sorting this problem is about $350 on the average. It can be cheaper though if the solenoid is good and it only needed some cleaning. In this case, you will not have to replace it and you will not have to spend a ton of money on this work.

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