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P0010 Code – What Does It Mean & How To Fix It

This is one of the most frequent OBD2 trouble codes. Read the full article below to know what it means, how to fix it, and what other codes may show related to it.

Definition

Intake Camshaft Position Actuator Circuit / Open (Bank 1)

Meaning

Hoo-boy! Looks like you have an engine timing issue. This is probably not going to be a DIY type repair job, but keep reading to learn more about this code. A P0010 means the engine control module (ECM) has found a variation in the mechanical timing between the crankshaft and Bank 1 Camshaft. This problem typically crops up at higher RPMs since the ECM is adjusting valve lifts during higher speed driving.

Causes

The usual suspects for a P0010 trouble code are as follows:

  • Your engine timing is out of sync and needs adjustment
  • You’ve got sludgy oil because you’ve been skipping oil changes
  • Your timing chain, gears or guides are worn down and need to be replaced
  • Your Crankshaft or camshaft sensor has malfunctioned
  • Wiring damage (so many car problems come down to worn out or bad wiring)-
  • ECM software needs an update from the manufacturer
  • ECM has internal damage (very bad news)

Symptoms

Here’s what you’ll notice when driving with a P0010:

  • Affect engine idle quality (rough idling is the most common)
  • A drop in fuel economy
  • Your vehicle performance is significantly reduced, especially at higher RPMs.
  • Your vehicle fails its emissions test

Diagnosis

This diagnostic process should be prefaced with the following caveat: to properly diagnose a P0010 trouble code, you will need an advanced scan tool that can interpret factory sensor readings and codes. These scan tools are expensive, highly specialized equipment that requires training and experience to read and interpret the data correctly. If you’re a hardcore DIYer and still want to attempt fixing this issue yourself, keep reading. This job is definitely best left to the experts with better equipment.

  • Using your specialized scan tool, determine when and where the problem occurred or if it is still occurring.
  • Clear the codes from the ECM and test drive the vehicle while monitoring the scan tool data stream to see if the issue recurs under the previously recorded circumstances.
                                                                                     
  • Next, you will need to visually inspect all wiring and connectors around the actuator sensors and sensor bank. You’ll also need a voltage scope with attachments to verify that all sensors are functioning at factory spec.You will also need basic hand tools to access the actuator and timing components since they are not readily accessible to most DIY technicians.

Common mistakes

There is a strong probability that you may be out of your depth attempting to repair this particular issue on your own. Not having the advanced scan tool and a digital voltage scope with the correct attachments are both deal breakers for making this repair on your own. There are so many steps that can go wrong when you are attempting to reach the camshaft actuator sensors, too.

How serious is this?

Left unchecked and unresolved, this problem will destroy other parts of your engine over time. A misaligned camshaft can damage valves and other critical engine parts. You are looking at expensive repair bills or potentially replacing your entire engine if this doesn’t get fixed right the first time.

What repairs can fix the code?

Here’s what you would need to do to try and repair the problem yourself:

  • Plug in an advanced professional scan tool to verify the code exists.
  • Pull research from professional automotive repair resources to see if there are existing fixes or resolutions other technicians have used to correct the problem.
  • Document any other trouble codes that recorded and repair those issues before tackling the P0010. It’s possible that an underlying issue is causing the error code and timing problem, and another repair may resolve this issue for you.
  • Analyze scan tool data from the ECM related to the code then take a road test while monitoring the live data stream. Verify the P0010 code still exists, and note any symptoms while driving.
  • Check the wiring, filters, sensors and screens for damage, blockage or other issues.
  • Continue to use scan tool data to pinpoint the root cause.
  • Check the oil control valve solenoid using a digital voltage scope to determine where the problem exists.
  • If all readings on the scanner and voltage scope are normal, you may need to remove the front engine cover so you can visually inspect the timing components .
  • Check the alignment of the crankshaft and camshaft markings to ensure the sprockets are meeting properly.
  • Verify the timing chain is in good condition and free of physical damage or excessive wear.
  • Replace any and all faulty components

Related codes

  • P0011 Intake Camshaft Position Timing OverAdvanced (Bank 2)
  • P0012 Intake Camshaft Position Timing OverRetarded (Bank 2) P0020 Intake Camshaft Position Actuator Circuit / Open (Bank 2)
  • P0021 Intake Camshaft Position Timing OverAdvanced (Bank 2) P0022 Intake Camshaft Position Timing OverRetarded (Bank 2)

Conclusion

Real talk time: this is your official “don’t try this at home, kids” warning. Unless you have access to a professional garage and equipment, this is a complex repair issue. If your vehicle is running rough and your check engine light comes on, scan it to see what code comes up. If it’s a P0010 or related code, take your car to the shop to get it checked out quickly.

Given enough time and practice you could probably fix this yourself, but the potential for permanent vehicle damage if you make a mistake is very high. Do the right thing and take your car to your mechanic as soon as you verify the code. You will be glad you did.