P0010 code definition
The P0010 code is associated with your engine’s mechanical variable valve timing.
Due to emissions and performance standards, manufacturers have installed systems to increase the engine valve lift under certain conditions based upon load and performance.
The P0010 code may also be accompanied with other codes such as: P0011, P0012, P0020, P0021, P0022, and maybe more.
What the P0010 code means
P0010 is a generic OBD-II code indicating an issue with the engine control module (ECM) detecting a variation in the mechanical timing between the crankshaft and bank 1 camshaft. The timing issue is typically detected during higher RPMs of the engine when the ECM attempts to adjust valve lift during higher speeds.
The ECM uses sensors to detect the position of the crankshaft and camshaft(s). From these sensor signals, the ECM controls ignition, valve lift, and fuel timing under various speeds and loads. The code will illuminate the Check Engine Light and possibly reduce engine performance.
What causes the P0010 code?
The Engine Positions System Performance Bank 2 code may have several causes:
- Engine timing out of sync
- Engine oil sludge (from lack of oil changes)
- Worn timing components (chains, gears, guides)
- Crankshaft or camshaft sensor malfunctions
- Wiring damage
- ECM software out of date
- ECM internal damage
What are the symptoms of the P0010 code?
The P0010 code will produce a Check Engine Light on the instrument panel / dashboard. It will likely:
- Affect engine idle quality
- Reduce fuel economy
- Affect engine performance at higher RPMs
- Fail an emissions inspection
How does a mechanic diagnose the P0010 code?
P0010 is properly diagnosed with an advanced scan tool capable of factory sensor readings and codes (not just one from your local auto parts store) to start. A qualified technician can read the data from the scan tool to determine when and where the problem occurred or if it is still occurring. They may clear the code from the ECM and test drive the vehicle while monitoring the scan tool data to see if the fault returns or if it is intermittent.
Engine sludge with the oil system is very common for this fault code. It is common to remove the solenoid which the code indicates to inspect the screen filter for sludge and manually activate it with a test probe.
If the fault is intermittent, then a visual inspection of the solenoid or the wiring may produce more results. Otherwise, the vehicle will have to be driven until the problem becomes more persistent.
If the fault returns immediately, the scan tool and information from professional resources should be able to narrow down the problem. Otherwise, a digital voltage scope used to monitor the sensor signals will be required. The signals will indicate what the ECM is seeing and if they are correct.
Based upon the results of the testing, possible clearing of the code(s), and a road test while monitoring the data, further diagnosis may be required. Diagnosis will require multiple tools such as:
- An advanced scan tool to read the ECM data values
- A digital voltage scope with attachments
- Basic hand tools to access the actuator and timing components
Common mistakes when diagnosing the P0010 code
It is common to see inexperienced technicians assume that the engine needs a new timing actuator or timing sprocket based upon this code. Without performing a proper diagnostic procedure, a vehicle owner could spend several hundreds of dollars only to still have the same fault code.
The code could be solved with a simple computer learn procedure or cleaning the actuator solenoid and an oil system flush. I have seen vehicles that have come in from other repair shops after having spent hundreds of dollars to only fix their issue in less than an hour.
Having a proper diagnosis is always recommended before replacing components based upon the code alone.
How serious is the P0010 code?
The P0010 fault code may cause your vehicle to have:
- Lower fuel economy
- Improper engine performance at higher speeds
- Reduced power
- Inability to pass emissions testing
A qualified technician can diagnose the problem with proper tools and can verify these potential issues and their effects on other systems.
What repairs can fix the P0010 code?
The most common procedure to repair the P0010 code are as follows:
Connect a professional scan tool to verify the code exists.
Perform research from professional sources for testing and values based upon the code.
Check for any other fault codes which may be related to the issue and perhaps clear the fault codes to see which fault codes return.
Analyze scan tool data from the ECM related to the code and road test the vehicle while analyzing the scan tool data from the ECM. Verify the P0010 code returns or the symptoms exists or determine if it is intermittent.
Visually inspect all of the items listed above (screen clogs, wiring, etc.).
Further diagnose the problem with the special tools listed above if the problem appears to repeat.
The signals and wiring from the solenoid requires analyzing from a digital voltage scope to determine where the problem exists.
If the signals and scan tool values are within specification, then removal of the timing/front engine cover may be required.
Verify the timing marks on the crank and camshaft sprockets align.
Inspect the condition of the timing chain/belt and guides for signs of wear.
Replace the faulty component found during the above testing.
Additional comments for consideration regarding the P0010 code
Engine timing between the crankshaft and camshaft(s) is critical to the performance and smoothness of the engine. The code typically means that the timing is not aligned at higher RPMs thus causing performance issues when the computer tries to perform valve adjustments.Maybe the solenoid itself is malfunctioning.
The code is most commonly found in Chevrolet, Subaru and BMW vehicles, although I have seen it in other makes. On higher mileage vehicles, I usually suspect engine oil sludge, the filter screen on the solenoid clogged, or the solenoid not working.
On lower mileage vehicles, I suspect an ECM software update issue depending on history of routine maintenance.
In all of these scenarios, a knowledgeable technician with proper tools and professional resources will be able to determine the true fault behind the P0010 code.
Need help with a P0010 code?
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