Air & Fuel Mixture ControlOBD2 Codes

P0012 – Meaning, Causes, Symptoms, & Fixes

What Does Code P0012 Mean?

  • P0012 definition: Intake Camshaft Position Timing- Over-Retarded (Bank 1)
  • Issue Severity: SEVERE – Stop driving immediately
  • Repair Urgency: Fix this code immediately (same day if possible) to avoid internal engine damage
  • Diagnosis: It is important to complete the entire diagnostic process when diagnosing the P0012 code. This DTC is triggered by a number of internal engine issues from dirty, low or sludged oil to incorrect camshaft timing.

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The variable valve timing system increases fuel economy and engine performance by regulating when the intake and exhaust valves are opened and closed. The camshaft(s) is(are) adjusted by the ECM through the use of an oil control valve(s) (OCV) also called variable valve timing control solenoid valves. The P0012 code is set when the ECM detects the camshaft timing for the intake camshaft on bank 1 is more retarded than what it has been set to be.

P0012 Causes

  • Engine oil is too low*
  • Dirty/sludged engine oil*
  • Low oil pressure
  • Malfunctioning camshaft timing
  • Short in intake timing control/oil control circuit
  • Faulty intake valve timing control solenoid
  • Faulty oil control valve (OCV)

*most common

P0012 Symptoms

  • Check Engine Light
  • Rough engine performance
  • Other codes such as misfire codes (P0300-P0308)
  • Rattling/Knocking from engine
  • Engine stalling
  • Lowered fuel economy

How Do I Fix Code P0012?

With a P0012 code, the first step is to get it properly diagnosed to figure out what is causing the malfunction in the camshaft’s timing. Using the live data function of the FIXD sensor and app allows you to read and analyze engine data to properly diagnose a P0012 code.

If the oil level is good and the sensors are all reading correctly, the issue is likely with the camshaft or the engine’s timing, which are repairs not suited for beginner DIYers. If you’re not comfortable further diagnosing this issue at home, we recommend finding a RepairPal-certified shop to pinpoint the problem and give an accurate estimate for repairs. 

These shops can not only help you figure out what’s going wrong before you waste time and money on the wrong parts, but they also offer a minimum 12-month, 12,000-mile warranty and stand behind all their estimates with guaranteed fair pricing.

> Find a RepairPal Certified Shop Near You

How Much Does It Cost to Fix Code P0012?

If you take your car to a shop for diagnosis, most shops will start with an hour of “diag time” (the time spent in labor diagnosing your specific issue). Depending on the shop’s labor rate, this typically costs somewhere between $75-$150. Many, if not most, shops will apply this diagnosis fee to any required repairs if you have them perform the repairs for you. From there, a shop will be able to give you an accurate estimate for repairs to fix your P0012 code.

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  • Upfront cost estimates
  • Minimum 12-month, 12,000-mile warranty
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  • Possible Repair Costs for P0012

    When it comes to making repairs associated with the P0012 code, one or more of the below repairs may be needed to solve the underlying issue. For each possible repair, the estimated cost of repair includes the cost of the relevant parts and the cost of labor required to make the repair. 

    • Oil Change $20-$60
    • Oil Control Valve/Variable Valve Timing Control Solenoid $300-$400
    • Engine $3000-$4000

    DIY Steps to Diagnose Code P0012

    If you’d like to try to fix code P0012 at home without throwing money at parts, you’ll want to follow the steps below for proper diagnosis. Complete diagnosis may require some specialized equipment beyond what the FIXD Sensor can provide, but the biggest challenge for this repair is that internal engine issues could be the root cause of this code. As such, this diagnosis and repair should not be attempted by beginner DIYers. 

DIY difficulty level: Expert

This repair should not be attempted by beginner DIYers.

Tools/parts needed (our top picks from Amazon):

  • FIXD
  • Basic hand tools
  • Engine oil pressure gauge
  • Fused jumper wire
STEP 1: USE FIXD TO ENSURE NO OTHER ENGINE CODES ARE PRESENT.

Scan your vehicle to verify P0012 is the only code present. If other codes are present, they must be addressed first.

STEP 2: CHECK ENGINE OIL LEVEL AND CONDIITON. 

Check the engine oil level and condition. The oil should be a light tan color, translucent, and somewhat runny. If the oil is black or if it’s consistency is slimy or sludgy, you should perform an oil change. If the oil level is low, adjust to spec and test drive to see if the concern is resolved. 

STEP 3: CHECK FOR ENGINE SLUDGE.

If the oil appears sludgy, remove the oil cap and/or the valve cover and inspect the valve train for sludge. If there is sludge, there is a good chance the engine will need to be replaced due to sludge blocking the oil passages to the Oil Control Valve(s).

STEP 4: INSPECT INTAKE CAMSHAFT OIL CONTROL VALVE.

If there isn’t any sludge, consider checking the Bank 1 Intake Camshaft Oil Control Valve for proper function. You can do this by removing the Oil Control valve and supplying power and ground to the solenoid quickly using a pair of fused jumper wires. (Do not leave power applied for more than a second or two) If the valve is functioning properly, it should click, and you may even be able to see the valve move based on the design of your specific valve. If it doesn’t click or move, replace the tested oil control valve and test drive to see if the concern is resolved. 

STEP 5: CHECK OIL PRESSURE.

If all the above are good, check the engine oil pressure. Perform this test when the concern is happening and the engine is at operating temperature. If the engine does not have enough oil pressure, there could be a problem with the oil pump, oil pressure regulator, or even the engine itself. If there is good oil pressure, the engine may have jumped timing and will have to be diagnosed by a shop and/or have the engine replaced.

STEP 6: CONSULT A PROFESSIONAL.

If at this point the vehicle is still setting the same code, you may have a more serious problem with your car’s catalyst system, and you should bring the vehicle to a certified shop to have further diagnostic work performed.  

Common P0012 diagnosis mistakes

Prematurely replacing any component when the issue can be resolved by changing the oil and filter and adjusting the oil level to the correct level per your vehicle’s manufacturers specifications.

Still Need Help Fixing Code P0012?

If you’ve followed the steps above and are still experiencing issues with the catalyst system and code P0012, please contact the FIXD Mechanic Hotline if you’re a FIXD Premium subscriber or find a RepairPal certified shop near you to get the right repairs at a fair price.

Jeffrey-Ross

Lifelong automotive enthusiast with a soft spot for offroading. Wrencher turned writer, but I still love to tinker on just about anything with an engine. Dream car: tie between a ‘71 Hemi ‘Cuda and a ’91 GMC Syclone. #GirlDad #SaveTheManuals

Jeffrey N. Ross
Lifelong automotive enthusiast with a soft spot for offroading. Wrencher turned writer, but I still love to tinker on just about anything with an engine. Dream car: tie between a ‘71 Hemi ‘Cuda and a '91 GMC Syclone. #GirlDad #SaveTheManuals

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25 Comments

  1. FIXD notified me the minute this error occurred. Changed oil and filter as a possible remedy even though it wasn’t due at the time (every 3000 miles). Still have error, so am planning to replace both sensors.

    1. Let me know of that fixed your problem? We replaced both sensors and phaser still light is coming on. We’re fixing to change timing chains next.

      1. Got this code in my MazdaSpeed 3, turns out the turbo was toast.

        1. Drove from washington to oklahoma. Never had a problem with my 07 f150 triton. This winter is the first time my anti freeze froze in my radiator. Little did I know until I started over heating. Upon using my diagnostic code reader. I coded 3 sensors. P0016, p0012 and p0345
          I am having trouble understanding the corilation from a radiator antifreeze problem to these codes. Can anyone please help me via Lamens terms ?

      2. Pulled valve cover pulled VVT selenoid out and the Rubber O ring was missing from previous owner trying to fix it ! Put new one one and fixed p0012 code

        1. What does wt stand for

          1. It is V V T, not WT. It stands for Variable Valve Timing.

    2. The cam phaser is the culprit. Use a timing chain wedge to maintain timing and change that particular phaser or both for that matter. Be sure to use factory phasers and not after market the problem will be solved.

  2. Got this code in my MazdaSpeed 3, turns out the turbo was toast.

  3. 2006 Ford F 150 replaced timing chain and both sensors just replaced the plugs and the coils engine ran fine for 10 mins and then i got this code will do more diag and get back to you

    1. Was you able to fix your problem?

  4. My 528I bmw has this reoccurring problem with P10012 that keeps popping up and disappearing after a couple of days of driving, so I changed 1 valve first than the other, than even switched them around with same result showing the same code P10012, the car otherwise runs fine.
    What could be wrong?

  5. Any update on this. I got the video. The Ford Edge. I’ll be replacing the VVT solenoids in bank 1 this weekend.

    1. Check your camshaft actuator

  6. Why can’t I email this report to my email?

    1. probably not enough postage, try more stamps. mailman may be on holiday or retired. try new mailman. if this doesn’t fix it, reset your computer, throw it out the window and take the day off

  7. I received an email that my 2007 BMW X3 showed this code but when I did a scan no problems showed up and car is running fine. What gives?

  8. they charged me $1000 for this Code. P0012

  9. Telling us what repair was performed would be helpful, the price you paid doesn’t give us any information.

  10. Changed timing control solenoid valves. Car runs smooth no longer hard starts. However can not remove engine light

    1. Check oil filter cap.
      Make sure the cage and O-ring are still attached to the cap. If this is missing it will cause low oil pressure and trigger vanos codes as well.

      1. Its v v t . Veritable valve timing. Not wt

  11. I have had the oil changed and the solenoids replaced, the check engine light is still on and I still have the P0012 code. One mechanic says I need a new engine another says maybe not. Can this be fixed or not?

    1. I Put An Entire New Engine In! (New) & Still Getting The P0012 I’m So F’n Done With BMW!! Been Trying To Fix This Code Since Jan of The Year 2020!! WTF!?…. So Far Spent Over $4K I’m Starting To See Why People Talk Crap About BMW Reliability Like For Real!!
      I Put Genuine Bran New Sensors (all 5 of them!), Put Super Genuine $100 BMW Oil & Filter, I Used Seafoam On Both My Cats, Same Code All Year Long! Can’t Even Pass Smog All Year Because Of This!!.

    2. J’ais le voyant moteur allumé sur mon tableau de bord, j’ais fait le diagnostic( code brut: p0012. Camshaft position, intake/left/gront,bank 1 timing over-retarted.
      Que dois je faire ?

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