The P0013 code relates to your engine’s variable valve timing (VVT) system, a crucial system found in all modern vehicles. Its primary purpose is to alter your camshaft’s speed to give you the right 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 relatively quick and easy process if you know the right steps to follow. Read the information below to learn more about this code and how you can fix it.
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 the sensors’ signals. This feature makes the engine’s operation more efficient, improves performance, and gives you better fuel efficiency.
When the engine control module (ECM) needs to adjust the camshaft’s timing, 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, two main conditions will trigger the P0013 code. The first is when the ECM reduces the camshaft’s speed, but the oil control valve (OCV) output remains 100%. The second is when the ECM increases the camshaft’s speed, 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, including most vehicles made in the 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 P0013 trouble code symptoms 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 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 beginning the generic diagnosis and repair steps below.
Tools You’ll Need:
- 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.
- Visually inspect all the wires around the VVT system. Replace any that are damaged or broken due to corrosion, and ensure that all wires are securely connected.
- 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, replace your oil filter, and refill your system with new oil.
- 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.
- 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 terminals of the camshaft oil control valve. 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.
- 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.
- If the code still doesn’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 be a simple and affordable one to repair.
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 and other trouble codes related to the variable valve timing system.