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P0016 Code: Meaning, Symptoms, Causes, Diagnostics, And Fixes

The OBD-2 code P0016 happens when the sensors near the crankshaft and camshaft read a problem with timing. The sensors inform the engine control module (ECM) when the timing belt is off. When this happens, the camshaft and crankshaft are not moving in sync. The diagnostic code P0016 is activated and the check engine light turns on.

P0016 Code Definition

  • P0016 generic: Crankshaft Position – Camshaft Position Correlation (Bank 1, Sensor A)
  • P0016 Mercedes: Crankshaft/Camshaft Timing Misalignment – Bank 1 Sensor 1
  • P0016 Chevrolet: Crankshaft Position – Intake Camshaft Position Not Plausible

What Does P0016 Mean?

The P0016 OBD-2 code shows that the camshaft and crankshaft position sensors are not aligned. The crankshaft sensor manages the timing of the spark. The camshaft position sensor starts the injector sequence. When these sensors detect problems, the engine misfires causing a rough ride. The vehicle might have difficulty starting, too.

The P0016 code means that there is a problem in the correlation between the camshaft and crankshaft sensors. These sensors send a message to the ECM when the timing is off due to several possible issues.

In Toyotas, the code activates when the ECM does not receive a message from the variable valve sensor.

In Fords, when the camshaft and crankshaft sensors are off by a few degrees the code fires.

In Chevys, the camshaft position sensor is one or more angles away from its ideal position.

What Are The Symptoms Of The P0016 Code?

There are several symptoms that could occur along with the check engine light illuminating. Another symptom includes reduced fuel efficiency. Other symptoms include issues with the engine:

  • Starting hard
  • Running on reduced power
  • Running erratically
  • Stalling or hesitating
  • Running rough
  • Rattling near the harmonic balancer

What Are The Causes Of The P0016 Code?

The causes of the P0016 code are usually in the area around the camshaft and crankshaft. They include:

  • A timing chain jumping teeth so the camshaft is out of position.
  • A phaser at the camshaft being out of position.
  • A phaser is clogged due to using oil with the wrong viscosity.
  • The oil filter is causing a blockage in the oil control valve.
  • The timing chain could be worn or stretched
  • Tone ring could be broken
  • Wiring at the camshaft or crankshaft sensor could be damaged
  • The ECM could be faulty or have damaged wires

How Serious Is P0016 Code?

The P0016 code is moderately serious because it involves the timing of the engine. When the problem is exacerbated, the engine might stall or have difficulty starting. Some engines will hesitate after the hard start. With timing problems, the valves could strike the pistons and cause major engine damage.

If you drive the car without repairing the problem, you could cause more damage to the inside of the engine. Issues with the tensioners, timing chains, and guides can also cause more damage.

How To Diagnose And Fix The Code P0016


 We use an OBD2 scanner to diagnose P0016 Code
We use an OBD2 scanner to diagnose P0016 Code

How To Diagnose The Code P0016

To diagnose the problem, you will need to use the OBD-2 scanner to determine the codes.

  • Check the freeze frame data to see what originally triggered the code.
  • Check the sensors at the camshaft and crankshaft for wiring issues.
  • Check the engine oil to see if it is clean and the manufacturer’s recommended viscosity.
  • Reset the engine light and take the car for a test drive.
  • Perform the manufacturer’s pinpoint tests for the P0016 code.

How To Fix The Code P0016

  • The first step is to reset the codes with the OBD-2 scanner
  • Then test the car on the road
  • If the code appears again, then it is time to check the camshaft and crankshaft in bank 1.
  • Check the wiring on the sensors at the camshaft and crankshaft to be sure they are not dirty or frayed. If they are broken, then they need to be repaired.
  • After the repair, check the OBD-2 code again using the scanner. If the code still fires, then more repairs are needed.
  • Using a scope, check the patterns of the crankshaft and camshaft.
  • A missing pattern means there is a problem with the tone ring or a sensor.
  • Using your hand tools, you will need to get to the harmonic balancer and tone rings. Look for shearing or damage that might knock them out of alignment. They may need to be replaced or the sensor might need to be replaced.
  • If there are still problems, the next step is to look at the timing chain or the tensioner. There could be visual damage to both.
  • The belt could also be stretched. Make the necessary repairs or replace the belts or chains.
  • Then, scan with the OBD-2 reader to see if all is well.

What Are Common Mistakes While Diagnosing The Code P0016?

Before making costly repairs, run through pinpoint tests. Check the codes and verify the failures before making repairs. Be sure you run a visual check on all areas involved with this code. Check sensor connections and wiring. The pinpoint tests will tell you which parts need repairing, so check them prior to making repairs. The most common mistake is replacing the cam sensor before checking other issues first.

Tips To Avoid P0016 In The Future

With many makes and models, the best way to avoid this code is to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for maintenance. Another tip to keep the code from lighting is to park your car in a covered space when the temperature exceeds 90°F. Heat can damage engine parts. Excessive vibration can, too. So, avoid driving on bumpy roads at high speeds. Heat and vibration can damage the sensors and sensitive timing components. Perform regular checks of wiring, especially during oil changes or regular maintenance appointments. Don’t forget to regularly change your oil and use the manufacturer’s recommended viscosity.

Read more: P0014 Code: Meaning, Symptoms, Causes, Diagnostics, And Fixes

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