When the garages are closed is typically where your instrument cluster might illuminate a warm orange – check engine light on.
Courtesy to modern vehicle networking though, it has made the interpretation of warning lights less ambiguous. If you own a somewhat modern (post-2000) car, definitely consider purchasing an OBD2 scanner.
Plug the scanner in if your engine control unit (ECU) is indicating a fault: P0014 “B Camshaft Position – Timing Over-Advanced”. What does it mean?
What does P0014 Code mean?
The ‘P0014’ fault code is a standardised OBD-II code denoting that the ECU has identified a problem with the engine’s exhaust camshaft position, where it’s more advanced than what the ECU has specified. If you have a V-engine, it specifically indicates that the first bank exhaust camshaft is over advanced.
This fault condition is determined once it repeatedly occurs when your ECU is commanding exhaust camshaft phasing, whether if it’s advance or retard. Advance or retard refers to how far your camshaft is rotated clockwise or counter-clockwise respective to its basic ‘zero’ position.
It’s important to note that over-advancing doesn’t mean that your camshaft is broken or phased beyond limits. It means that your camshaft phasing is beyond the range of value attributed to different operating conditions that are pre-defined in the ECU. So if your ECU is expecting to see 5 to 10 degrees of advance, and it’s actually reading 15 degrees, it determines that the camshaft is over-advanced.
To understand the roots of the fault though, it helps to comprehend how camshaft adjustments are carried out. It’s an ingenious system that has been ubiquitous in cars for decades by now.
How do VVT systems work?
While there might be slight disparities between manufacturers, the idea behind cam phasing is the same. The engine camshaft controls how the engine breathes and when it breathes.
Camshaft adjustment, or phasing, aims to control the latter of the two. Due to how an internal combustion engine functions, it has a variable powerband. Depending on the engine load, it needs to breathe in fresh air sooner or later to remain efficient. It’s also working in tandem with the piston movement.
This is what’s known as variable valve timing (VVT). It’s the process of changing the timing of when the valves are operated in order to better optimise engine efficiency. It’s important to note that the impact of VVT on performance is rather minimal, as its main purpose is to improve efficiency and emissions.
Commonly, camshaft adjustment operation is carried out by a phaser at the front of the camshaft. The camshafts can be thought of as ‘floating’ on the pulley, which has channels inside to allow oil flow.
Modern applications incorporate an electric solenoid which can continuously modulate oil flow and thus pressure, to the camshafts. It is this action that actually rotates the camshaft to induce earlier or later valve operation.
P0014 Possible Causes
We know that the P0014 code is triggered by the camshaft timing being advanced out of its range. What are the possible causes for this over-advanced condition though?
If you understand how camshaft-phasers operate, then you’d have a good idea of its main strength and flaw: dependence on oil pressure. The idea of utilising circulating oil is ingenious but reveals a potential flaw.
Oil Quality / Pressure
Because of the dependence on good oil pressure for the cam phaser to operate, you’d need your engine’s oil system to be in good shape. An issue that especially plagued early-generation variable valve timing technology is related to this in fact.
As oil refinement became increasingly advanced, owners started to push their service intervals. This causes a gradual buildup of oil sludge within the engine. The effects are not immediately apparent, but over time the sludging can be severe enough to clog up the oil channels.
This clogging impacts the operating pressure and thus affects the operation of the cam phasers. It’s not just delayed intervals, some owners also switch to inferior oil or the wrong oil that can be too viscous for proper VVT operation.
Due to how it’s tied to oil pressure, the wrong oil level can also trigger the P0014 code. Checking your oil level is easy enough, but take precaution that low oil level hints at a potential leak. That said, it’d have to be a rather serious leak for low oil pressure problems to surface.
However unlikely, there’s also a chance that the oil filter used is restricting system flow. This might happen with counterfeit or aftermarket filters which may just affect oil pressure enough to trigger the code.
When properly maintained though, unless there’s a manufacturer fault, variable valve timing systems are typically very reliable. There’s less to go wrong with an oil-based system.
Failure In The VVT System
Modern VVT systems are actually electromechanical. Being continuously variable and electronically controlled demands for an ECU controlled factor – VVT solenoid. The solenoid is actuated to control oil feed into the cam phasers, and this solenoid can be a failure point.
It’s also possible that the wiring is corroded or damaged. The connector or terminal itself may be loose, where the contacts are iffy when there is too much vibration.
Solenoids are laudably reliable in most applications. It’s still possible for them to fail whether if it’s due to age or oil issues. Over time they may even start sticking due to dirty oil, which affects the phasing mechanism and reaction time.
Although unlikely, it may also be possible for the cam phasers themselves to be failing. Typically this happens when there’s just too much sludge buildup within to the extent that it’s blocking the phaser.
It’s also possible that your timing belt or chain is worn or has skipped a tooth due to a worn tensioner. This can also cause multiple other faults to pop up, which tells you that it’s a timing issue rather then VVT-related.
Of course, control of the camshaft adjusting operation is down to the ECU. If there’s an issue with its solenoid driver which is typically PID-based, then it can also over-advance the exhaust camshaft. A failed camshaft position sensor may also falsely report camshaft position values to the ECU, causing it to trigger the code.
P0014 B Camshaft Position – Timing Over-Advanced Effects
When there ECU has decided that there’s an issue with the camshaft adjusting system, it will trigger the check engine light. The palpable effects of over-advancing may manifest in different ways mechanically though.
If the exhaust camshaft is stuck all the way advanced during starting, it might not be all too perceivable during idling and high load operation. However, when you’re cruising and looking for on-throttle torque, you may notice quite a dip due to the lack of camshaft overlap. Emissions will be worse too if you get it emissions tested.
Because camshaft adjustment is linked to engine efficiency, lack of its function will reflect in worse fuel economy. Since exhaust valve opening angle is used for internal exhaust gas recirculation and scavenging, you’ll be stuck a less efficacious system overall.
Most of the exhaust camshaft’s operation is dependent on late-closing, or retardation. Therefore an exhaust camshaft stuck in an over-advanced state may cause a rougher running engine because the ECU is perplexed. It may not be overt, but it will feel like the engine is ‘missing’.
While in some cases, you may not even notice the effects at all. In this case, it will still be necessary to carry out repairs because of the implications on the car’s emissions.
Diagnosis P0014 By Mechanic
Before the diagnosis of code P0014 is carried out, it’s important to approach the fault holistically. Are there other related faults determined? Understanding how faults can relate and possibly trigger each other is a crucial skill in diagnosing any fault.
When it comes to over-advanced or over-retarded faults, there’s a good chance that it’s caused by a clogged oil channel feeding into the camshaft phaser. It always helps to perform simple checks first though.
- Check the oil level and determine the condition.
It helps to know the history of the car and how regularly is it serviced. What viscosity is the oil used? Typically using the wrong oil viscosity will have other telltale signs too.
Then a visual inspection of:
- Solenoid operation.
The exacts differ from vehicle to vehicle, but the working principle of variable valve timing systems are generally similar.
Scanners capable of capturing freeze-frame fault data can also be helpful in identifying the operating condition that generates the fault. Depending on the marque, a self-check of the solenoid and camshaft adjusting operation can also be carried out.
Common Mistakes Troubleshooting P0014
Once the pertinent fault has been determined, steps can be taken to remedy it. The easiest repairs can be made. It’s important that only once the true source of the problem is determined before a repair is attempted.
It’s easy to throw parts at the problem and in the end, it may not even provide a solution. The first thing that should be done before diagnosing is to check whether if the issue is a persistent one, and whether if it comes back after the initial erase.
If the ‘P0014’ code is a stored fault that has only triggered once or twice, it may not even be a relevant fault at all. Ensure that the oil level and condition is OK first. A once over of the wiring condition is also standard procedure for intermittent faults.
If it’s a current fault or recurring, then you should start working from the easiest to hardest things to check. Don’t take anything for granted while performing diagnosis. Sometimes, manufacturers may offer a guided test to help you in diagnosing your woes.
A noteworthy possibility is a skipped timing belt/chain. This can happen due to worn tensioner, guide or even the timing chain or belt itself. The effects of an out-of-time engine are quite pronounced though and can trigger the P0014 code along with others.
Avoiding a Re-Emergence of P0014
P0014 and related codes are frequently triggered due to negligence. There are car owners out there that never get normal a service carried out. Out of warranty, there’s also a tendency for owners to save on a service or two, or just wait for a longer interval.
The effects of a neglected internal combustion engine are well documented. Stick to manufacturer-approved engine oil or at least ones from reputable manufacturers with the right viscosity for your engine.
It’s not often covered, by if the car is only driven for short distances all the time, then that can cause engine oil to sludge up. An engine that constantly works in short cycles doesn’t have enough time to warm up properly and burn off deposits.
In fact, frequent short distance driving contributes to some very common issues brought up by many car owners. Over a long period, it may even cause serious carbon deposits and a gunked up engine.
To fix this, sometimes all a technician needs to do is bring your car out and drive it hard. Dubbed the ‘Italian tune-up‘, it’s a tested ‘repair’ method for a sluggish engine. Therefore, it’s a good idea to let your car stretch its legs out on the motorway from time to time.
Self-Diagnosing and Carrying Out Repairs
If you’re a keen DIY person and don’t mind to learn from the experience, this code can prove to be a decent mind exercise. It can be done with simple tools that every car owner should have.
The first thing you should do is perform a scan through your OBD2 scanner. Take note of all the codes present, as there might be multiple other consequential codes as a result of the underlying problem.
If the fault code is valid, and symptoms are present, the first thing you should check is your engine oil level. Consult the owner’s manual for what your oil level should be, what engine oil should be used and what viscosity is applicable for your vehicle.
Given that everything oil-related looks good, the next thing you should do is perform a visual inspection. Check the wiring, connectors and the solenoid themselves for damage, corrosion or wear.
If your OBD2 scanner is capable of carrying out self-tests, then it should be possible to perform self-check of the exhaust camshaft adjustment function. This includes the oil control valve and camshaft phaser, which once actuated should affect the camshaft position.
- Scan with OBD2 Scanner
- Check is your engine oil level
- Perform a visual inspection
- Solenoid for damage, corrosion or wear
- Perform self-test via OBD2
Advanced Diagnosis P0014
It’s really easy to overlook wiring and electrical issues that aren’t overt. Therefore, be sure to give your wires a thorough once over before you eliminate it as a possibility so you don’t end up scratching your head. Sometimes even loose connectors are enough to trigger the code due to vibrations.
Given that you have an older car with a broad enough community, you might even be able to find the electrical manual for your engine. It should provide you with a wiring diagram, diagnosing steps, what to look for and technical specifications.
This is generally only applicable to European makes. If you suspect that it is indeed your adjuster magnet that’s failing, then performing a swap between the intake and exhaust camshaft solenoid can help you pinpoint the issue. Other makes may have integrated solenoid and spool valve units that are oriented differently between exhaust and intake side.
You can suspect the spool valve that controls the oil flow if none of the above is applicable. It’s possible that the spool valve is clogged and impacting oil flow within the circuit. If you’re fortunate, an oil change and a hard drive should rectify this issue. If your car has a filter screen for the spool valve, then you can just replace that.
Do take note that in some cases, other codes can trigger P0014 as well. Ergo, ‘P0335’ indicates that there’s an issue with the crankshaft position sensor. Thus the ECU doesn’t know the precise condition of the engine and thinks that the exhaust camshafts are over-advanced. You should definitely rectify the P0335 code beforehand.
Finally, it is also possible that your timing chain or belt has skipped a tooth. In this instance, there will certainly be a bit more telltale signs than just ‘P0014’, but it’s a possibility.
- Thoroughly check all related wires
- Use wiring diagrams
- Swap between the intake and exhaust camshaft solenoid
- Oil change
- Hard drive
- Replace filter screen for spool valve
- Look for other codes – etc P0335
- Investigate timing
What are the symptoms of a bad camshaft position sensor?
Longer starting time, poor running engine, bad emissions, check engine light on.
My 2003 Chevrolet Trailblazer has the codes ‘P0014’ and ‘P1345’, what’s wrong?
It’s a common issue with the Atlas straight-6 used in the Trailblazer. It can be down to a clogged filter screen, failed camshaft position actuator or even stretched timing chain. Reading up on the various diagnosis cases should give you a rough idea of what to do.
How to reset the P0014 error code on a GMC Canyon?
Fault codes can be reset after the issue is rectified. Otherwise, it will come back moments after a reset.
How much does it cost to fix P0014 for a Chevrolet Equinox?
It really depends on the underlying fault. It can be as affordable as a $50 oil change, a $100 sensor replacement or it can be a $1,000 timing job.
Can low oil cause P0014?
Definitely. Low oil level can also generate a myriad of other codes and issues. Be sure to check if your car isn’t excessively consuming oil or leaking oil instead of just topping it off.
What is exhaust camshaft position timing?
It refers to the phasing of the exhaust camshaft, how much is it advanced or retarded in relation to its base position.
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