P0012 Code – Meaning, Causes, Symptoms (& How To Fix)

Arguably one of the most important aspects of the vehicle’s performance is the engine. If there’s a problem with the engine, no part of the ride is enjoyable. That’s why it’s so disheartening to see the Check Engine Light come on and find the P0012 code with your diagnostic scanner.

This guide will explain what P0012 means. You will be able to see the causes of this issue, what symptoms might occur and how you can fix it. 

Índice de Contenido
  1. Definition of the code P0012
  2. What is the P0012 Coding?
  3. Trouble Code P0012 Symptoms
  4. The P0012 code: Causes
  5. Is the P0012 Code Really Serious?
  6. Which Repairs can Fix the P0012 code?
  7. Common errors in P0012 diagnosis
  8. How do you diagnose the P0012 trouble code?
  9. Price Estimated for P0012 Repair
  10. The P0012 Code: Mechanics Tips

Definition of the code P0012

P0012 – Camshaft Position “A” – Timing Over-Retarded (Bank 1)

What is the P0012 Coding?

The generic powertrain code P0012 indicates the engine control modules (ECMs) have noticed that bank 1's intake timing was different than it should. It determines the timing and sends out an alert if it falls behind.

This timing issue happens during either the retarding or advancing phase of the camshaft’s positioning. This could be accompanied by other codes. 

Trouble Code P0012 Symptoms

The Check Engine Light is the first sign that something is amiss. The P0012 code may cause many other symptoms. Some of these are less obvious. 

These are some of the symptoms most commonly associated with this condition.

You will experience different problems depending on how the timing position of the camshaft stops moving. Different symptoms might be present. 

The P0012 code: Causes

P0012 can happen for many reasons. Some of them are easier to deal with than others, so it’s important to perform a complete inspection to figure out what’s going on, thereby resolving the fault and the initial cause.

Below are some common reasons:

Is the P0012 Code Really Serious?

Severe – You may be tempted to continue running the vehicle if it hasn’t stalled, but you shouldn’t. It’s best to have the problem resolved as soon as you can.

Engine damage may quickly develop due to many causes. It is important to fix the problem before further problems develop. 

Which Repairs can Fix the P0012 code?

The only way to determine the appropriate fix is to first figure out what’s causing the P0012 trouble code. This will help you decide what next. That’s why we discuss how to diagnose the problem a little further down in the article.

These are some of the most common repairs that you will need to make.

  • Perform an oil change
  • Oil pump should be replaced
  • New oil control valve
  • Replace camshaft actuator
  • Resolve electrical problems
  • Replacing the timing solenoid of intake valve
  • Change timing chain or belt

Common errors in P0012 diagnosis

Presuming you are able to diagnose P0012 problems is the biggest mistake. You will end up putting unnecessary parts on your car if you don't do a thorough check.

Instead, make sure you follow the right diagnostic steps for your vehicle to properly determine what’s wrong. Make sure to check your wiring connections for potential shorts. 

How do you diagnose the P0012 trouble code?

If you want to troubleshoot your car as the professional mechanics do, you must first review the manufacturer’s pinpoint test procedures. Each engine is different and requires testing. There are also variations in the parameters considered to be normal. We can't give you specific steps, so we won't be able to help you. To determine the best procedure for your car, get a repair manual.

These procedures may be followed in accordance to manufacturer instructions.

  1. Do not forget to record the engine trouble codes. If there is more than one, you have a better chance of figuring out what’s wrong. You might try to reset your system if you find a lot of trouble codes. You can then check your codes once more light goes on and you can freeze the data. 
  2. Check the oil quality and level. It is time to check the oil level and filter quality. Use the right oil viscosity to your car.
  3. Make sure you inspect the connections and electrical wiring to the camshaft sensor, oil control solenoid valve and the connectors. It is important to replace anything that has been damaged. 
  4. For your vehicle, the following steps will be followed to check if camshaft timing is changing based upon manual operation of oil control valve. 
  5. The timing on the camshaft should be checked. Also, inspect the timing chain/belt and other related components. For this task, consult a repair manual.

These are the minimum steps. Professional technicians should be consulted for anything beyond them. You can take your diagnosis to the local auto shop. 

Price Estimated for P0012 Repair

Depending on what you find with your diagnosis, you may be able to repair the problem with one of the fixes we’ve listed. These are approximate repair costs including labor if the problem is found. 

  • Oil and filter change – $45-$75
  • New oil pump – $200-$1,500
  • New oil control valve – $150-$450
  • New camshaft actuator – $300-$1000
  • Repair electrical issues – $50-$500
  • Replace timing belt or chain – $1000 – $5000
  • New intake valve timing solenoid – $300-$550

The P0012 Code: Mechanics Tips

People often overlook what is obvious, and focus on bigger problems. The wrong oil viscosity can cause similar problems and lead to engine damage.

A thick oil can cause motor problems and system malfunctions. If you are using the wrong oil, it doesn’t cost much to perform an oil change to see if that fixes the problem.


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