Q: would skipping an oil change cause a P0008 code

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I bring in my car for scheduled oil changes to a local dealership. One week after the oil change, I get the oil low light and call the service rep. He tells me that the mechanic forgot to reset the system without consulting with the mechanic. 2 weeks later I check Onstar and it indicates engine warning, bring the vehicle in. At the same time the check engine light comes on. The service rep tells me that a code P0008 is appearing, do an engine flush and run the car for a long period. This is just after an oil change. The light comes on and off and after a few months he tells me that they have to remove the engine to fix the problem and it will cost $4400.00. I think that they did not change the oil and this may have caused this problem.

My car has 70200 miles.
My car has an automatic transmission.

Diagnostic Trouble Code P0008 sets when the engine control module (ECM) detects an out of range variation in the mechanical timing of the crankshaft and the camshaft. The crankshaft and camshaft(s) are normally moving in a fixed position, relative to one another, via a timing chain or belt. The ECM uses sensors to continuously monitor the position of the crankshaft and camshaft(s). Using these sensor outputs, the ECM then can optimize ignition and fuel timing under all the different speed and loading conditions that occur as you drive the vehicle. Once code P0008 sets, the Check Engine Light will illuminate and you could see reduced engine performance and economy. The principal root causes for this code to set are: 1) the engine timing is out of sync; worn timing components (chains, gears, guides) cause timing variation; crankshaft or camshaft position sensors malfunction; wiring damage or terminal faults; ECM software has been updated to correct known issues leading to P0008 but your car does not have the update; and ECM internal damage (not likely and thus last resort in terms of diagnostics).

Obviously, not changing the oil could be implicated in the mechanical wear causes outlined above, that is wear in the timing components. However, missing one oil change is probably not enough to cause the extent of "mechanical" wear necessary to set the code. You have mentioned, however, that you observed a "low oil level" warning light. Obviously, running the engine with inadequate engine oil will cause excess wear throughout. If the warning light came on after the dealer changed the oil, you have to wonder if they added sufficient engine oil. There is a difference between a low oil level warning and a maintenance reminder though; if it was the maintenance reminder, and NOT the oil LEVEL light, that came on then you needn’t worry. But, if it was the low oil LEVEL warning, they probably did not add adequate oil. The engine flush you are referring to is a useless, irrelevant service in the context of repairing Code P0008. That is, an engine flush is not a legitimate repair strategy and if the flush was sold to you as such, you are entitled to, and should demand, a 100% refund for any cost you incurred for that service.

As far as what to do now, the root cause of the P0008 Code has to be identified (diagnosed) and such can be done in the context of a Check Engine Light diagnostic, during which the Mechanic would follow a P0008 diagnostic protocol. What you have so far from the dealer does not appear to be a diagnostic but rather a mere conclusion. If there is a problem with the mechanical condition of the engine they should have determined, in a diagnostic, EXACTLY what the problem is and explained that to you in some understandable fashion. Often the problem that has caused Code P0008 to set is resolvable, indeed sometimes with a software update to the ECM or replacement of malfunctioning position sensors (such as crankshaft/camshaft position sensors). The bottom line is you need an intelligent, ACCURATE diagnostic performed before you can determine what to do to fix this problem and also understand the cost. If you desire that a certified professional from YourMechanic come to your location and perform the necessary diagnostics, by all means please follow-up.

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