P0013 Code: Meaning, Symptoms, Causes, Diagnostics, and Fixes

The P0013 code relates to the variable valve timing (VVT) system in your engine. This is an important system found in all modern vehicles. Its main purpose is to alter the speed of your camshaft to give you the exact power your engine needs. 

Your engine won’t always manifest symptoms when something goes wrong in the VVT system, but this doesn’t mean it can be taken lightly. Issues with your engine’s timing can lead to potentially significant engine damage, including damage to your ECM. 

Luckily, the fix for P0013 is often a relatively easy and affordable one. Something as simple as a loose wire can be the culprit in many cases. It’s also one of the codes you’re likely to see if you’ve neglected your regular oil change.

Isolating the problem is often a fairly quick and easy process if you know the right steps to follow. Read on below to learn more about this code and how you can fix it. 

The P0013 code is rooted in the VVT system
The P0013 code relates to the variable valve timing (VVT) system

P0013 Code Definition

P0013 Code Definition (Generic): “B” Camshaft Position Actuator Circuit (Bank 1)

What Does P0013 Mean?

Modern engines don’t run at the same speed all the time. Instead, they use a variable timing system, adjusting the valve timing based on signals from the sensors. This makes the engine’s operation more efficient, improving performance and giving you better fuel efficiency.

When the engine control module (ECM) needs to adjust the timing of the camshaft, it does so through the camshaft position actuator. If the RPM (revolutions per minute) of the camshaft doesn’t change in response, the P0013 trouble code is activated. 

Specifically, there are two main conditions that will trigger the P0013 code. The first is when the ECM reduces the speed of the camshaft but the oil control valve (OCV) output remains at 100%. The second is when the ECM increases the speed of the camshaft but the OCV output is 2% or less. 

There are two circuits connected to the camshaft position (CMP) actuator. The high control circuit sends a 12-volt signal to the actuator, while the low reference circuit serves as a return circuit. Issues with either of these can lead to the activation of the P0013 code, as can wiring problems elsewhere in your timing system. 

While P0013 is a generic code, it is only found in vehicles that use variable valve timing. This will include the majority of vehicles made in past decade, regardless of manufacturer. Exactly where you find the CMP actuator will vary depending on your engine, but the P0013 trouble code will always point you to bank 1. This is the side of the engine that contains cylinder 1. 

What Are The Symptoms Of The P0013 Code?

The symptoms of the P0013 trouble code vary depending on what position the camshaft is in when the problem starts. Potential symptoms include:

  • Activation of the check engine light
  • Hard starts
  • Reduced gas mileage
  • Rough running
  • Reduced engine performance
  • Engine hesitation and stalls

What Are The Causes Of P0013?

  • Faulty VVT actuator
  • Damaged or loose wires around the VVT system
  • Open or short in the VVT system
  • Faulty oil control valve
  • Faulty or damaged ECM

How Serious Is The P0013 Code?

The P0013 code is of moderate severity. Driving with this trouble code active for an extended period of time can cause damage to your ECM. Even if you’re not experiencing significant drivability issues, you should repair the issue as soon as possible to avoid further problems.

How To Diagnose And Fix The P0013 Code

While this is a generic powertrain code, the specific fix may differ depending on your car. Check for any specific repair steps in your vehicle’s manual before you begin the generic diagnosis and repair steps below. 

Tools You’ll Need:

The P01013 code can be diagnosed with an OBD2 scan tool
The OBD2 scan tool can diagnose the P0013 code

Method:

  1. Scan your vehicle using an OBD2 scanner. Check the freeze frame data and the conditions present when the code was set. Also check if any other trouble codes are present. You may see other powertrain-related codes, such as P0011, P0012, or P0020-P0022.
  2. Visually inspect all the wires around the VVT system. Replace any that are damaged or corroded, and ensure that all wires are securely connected. 
  3. Check the level and quality of your oil. Make sure the oil level is correct. Also check the viscosity and quality of the oil. If it’s old or dirty, drain the oil and replace your oil filter, then refill your system with new oil. 
  4. Clear the codes and test drive your vehicle, replicating the conditions under which the code was first set. If the code comes back, continue with your diagnosis.
  5. If the OCV is stuck open, this is often the result of an internal short. You can find out if this is the case using a digital multimeter. Measure the resistance of the camshaft oil control valve terminals. It should measure somewhere between 6.9 and 7.9 ohms. Your vehicle’s manual will tell you the specific reading. If they don’t match, replace the OCV.
  6. Remove the connectors on the oil control valve. Use a multimeter to test the wires. If you get a null or infinite reading, there is an open circuit or a short. Replace the wire.
  7. If the code still won’t clear, you may have a more serious electrical problem. Take your vehicle to a mechanic for further diagnosis. 

Common Mistakes To Avoid While Diagnosing The P0013 Code

Many mechanics fail to do a visual inspection of the VVT system, assuming the problem is with the valve or circuit. Make sure you conduct a thorough diagnosis before replacing any components. The issue might actually be a simple and affordable one to repair.

Troubleshooting the P0013 code

Tips To Avoid P0013 In The Future

Preventative maintenance is the best way to stave off the P0013 trouble code. Make sure your oil is always filled to the proper level and changed when needed. Visually inspecting the wires of your system for frays and loose connections can also prevent P0013, as well as other trouble codes related to the variable valve timing system.

Read More: P0010 Code: Meaning, Symptoms, Causes, Diagnostics, and Fixes

Tim MillerFounderOBD Advisor

I’m Tim Miller from Denver, Colorado. I’m the founder of obdadvisor.com, an automotive blog about "Diagnostic Tools and Auto Repair". My fan page is facebook.com/autozikcom. I've been working as an automotive mechanic and blogger for over 10 years writing articles to share my experiences and expertise.

Web: https://www.obdadvisor.comEmail: [email protected]
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