P0017

P0017: Trouble With Your Camshaft Sensor?

Got a P0017 code in your car? This code means there’s an issue with your engine’s crankshaft and camshaft. These two components are crucial for the smooth operation of your engine. They’re quite complex, but don’t worry, we’ll explain all you need to know about them in this article.

From what they mean, the signs, and the repair costs. And believe us, you’ll want to address this issue before it becomes a more costly problem. Here’s our table of contents to help you find the relevant information:

P0017 Trouble Code: What Does It Mean?

The P0017 trouble code is just one of the thousands of trouble codes that can appear when you scan the car’s On-Board Diagnostic (OBD) system. When one of your car’s sensors detects an error, it will try to fix this problem on its own by using the relevant actuators.

If the problem persists, it will register a trouble code in the car’s OBD and trigger the check engine light. Here’s a quick guide to trouble codes: the first digit is a letter and indicates where the problem lies. In this case, it’s ‘P’ and it means it’s a powertrain issue, which includes the engine, transmission, and exhaust system.

P0017

Meanwhile, the number that follows the letter indicates whether it’s a universal code or a manufacturer-specific code. If the number is ‘1’, this means it’s a manufacturer-specific code, and the code means different things depending on your car’s make.

However, since the number is ‘0’ in this case, this means that it’s a universal code and is the same regardless of your car’s make and model. And the rest of the digit will tell you what’s wrong with the car. But what does the P0017 code mean exactly?

Well, the P0017 code means Exhaust Camshaft Position Not Plausible Bank 1, this is what you’ll see if your OBD scanner can display what the code means. This essentially means that the camshaft position sensor on the exhaust side of the engine is getting a reading outside of the pre-programmed value by the manufacturer.

P0017 Chevy

Note that even though this is a universal code, Chevrolet seems to have given this code its own description that’s different from everyone else. If you have a Chevy, the P0017 is described as ‘Crank/Cam Position Correlation Bank 1 Sensor B.’

This is essentially the same thing. It simply means that the camshaft position sensor in your Chevy is getting an abnormal reading, Chevy just decided to describe it in a different way for reasons only known to Chevy engineers. And yes, this is the same for every Chevy and applies to some other General Motors cars as well.

P0017 Bank 1 Sensor B Location

Okay, so you have an issue with the exhaust camshaft position sensor. Many mechanics or DIY enthusiasts will refer to this as the bank 1 sensor B, but which one is that? Bank 1 refers to the engine bank (or row) where cylinder number 1 lies.

If you have an inline-four or inline-six engine, then there’s only one bank. However, if you have a V-configuration engine—most commonly a V6 or a V8—then there are going two banks, hence why it’s called a V-engine.

You’ll need to locate cylinder number 1 to determine which one is bank 1. And to do this, we recommend checking your owner’s manual or finding information on owner forums. As the location differs depending on the car’s make and model.

Meanwhile, sensor B means the sensor is on the exhaust side of the bank. Usually, it’s located towards the rear of the engine near the firewall. So, that’s what the code means and where the sensor is. Next, it’s a good idea to learn more about the sensor and the related parts. Here’s what you need to understand about camshafts and crankshafts:

A Guide To Camshaft And Crankshaft

All internal combustion engine has a camshaft and crankshaft. The camshaft is a rotating device with lobes that controls the opening and closing of the engine’s valves. These valves have to open and close at the right time.

If you didn’t know, engines have two types of valves: the intake valves which allows air and fuel to enter the cylinder for combustion. And the exhaust valves that allow the combustion gases to escape after the engine is done burning the fuel and air mixture.

Meanwhile, the crankshaft is a rotating rod that spins the engine’s flywheel, and ultimately, this is what makes your car goes through a series of gears and rotating rods. The crankshaft spins by using converting the motion of the pistons, which move up and down thanks to the combustion process.

The thing about internal combustion engines is that all of these components have to move in the right direction at the right time. Otherwise, they can’t work properly; resulting in engine misfires, and possibly even a complete shutdown.

For example, an exhaust valve should close the cylinder is still in its combustion process. If the valve opens during the combustion process, this can result in compression and power loss, and a rough engine. Think of these components as a band that has to be in rhythm; if they’re not, it doesn’t matter how good they play, it won’t be pretty.

So, the camshaft and crankshaft have to be in rhythm, hence the need for a timing belt or timing chain. Additionally, carmakers fit sensors to these two components. The sensors not only notify you when something is wrong but also provide information to the Engine Control Unit (ECU) to control ignition timing and fuel injection.

P0017 Trouble Code: Signs To Look Out For

Sometimes, these trouble codes appear simply because of a bug or an error with the ECU or OBD system. In this case, you can reset the check engine light and see if it returns. If it doesn’t return, then your car is fine. But if it does, then you have a problem that you’ll need to address.

If you actually have an issue with the camshaft sensor or other related parts, you’ll notice these signs:

1. Difficulty Starting

A car with a camshaft position sensor issue is likely to have difficulty starting. There are a couple of scenarios. The first one is that the issue lies with the sensor itself; because the sensor is giving bad readings to the ECU, this causes the ECU to incorrectly time the ignition and fuel injectors.

This means the ignition coils and fuel injectors won’t activate at the correct time. As a result, the engine can’t start the combustion process and it won’t run. The second scenario is that there’s a mechanical issue, this can be from a bad timing belt/chain that desynchronizes the camshaft and crankshaft, or a bad camshaft amongst others.

In both cases, the car will crank but won’t start. Since the battery and starter motor is fine, the car will still crank just fine. However, it won’t turn on since the sensor or camshaft issue is preventing the engine from starting the combustion process.

If your car doesn’t crank at all, then this means you have a different problem that you need to address. It’s most likely a flat battery or a bad starter motor, although there are other potential causes too.

Note that there is also a multitude of reasons why your car cranks but won’t start. If your car does this and you don’t see a P0017 code, check our guide here to learn more on why a car cranks but won’t start.

2. Rough Engine

Even if the engine starts, it’s likely you’ll experience a rough running engine. In other words, you’ll be experiencing engine misfires. Misfires are when one or more cylinders in the engine aren’t firing or fire at the wrong time. This will result in an engine that doesn’t have a steady RPM.

An engine’s RPM should be steady at all times, especially after it warms up and the car is regularly used. If the RPM jumps up and down, then you have a misfiring engine. Additionally, a misfiring engine will also feel hesitant when accelerating. When you put your foot down, the RPM won’t climb smoothly.

Rough Engine

Note that engine misfires are different from engine backfires. A backfire is when combustion occurs outside of the engine’s cylinders, most commonly in the exhaust system. And you’ll hear a loud popping sound when the engine backfires.

Engine backfires usually occurs because of a fuel and air mixture that’s either too rich or too lean. However, it can also occur if the engine’s timing is out of sync. So, a bad camshaft position sensor can cause both engine misfires and backfires.

Both engine misfires and backfires can cause further damage to the engine if you ignore them. You should address it before it causes serious—and expensive—damage.

3. Poor Performance And Fuel Mileage

A rough-running engine will always result in poorer performance and sometimes reduced fuel mileage as well. You will notice that the car isn’t accelerating as fast as it usually does, mostly because the engine is hesitant due to the misfire and/or backfire.

It will also lead to reduced fuel mileage. The reason for this varies, it could be because you’re pressing on the gas pedal harder because you’re not getting as much power as you usually do which leads to the engine burning more fuel. But it can also be caused by the ECU putting in more fuel due to the faulty readings from the sensor.

In any case, you’ll likely see this symptom when you have a P0017 code. Not only this is inconvenient and costs you more fuel money, but it can also result in further damage to the engine if you ignore it.

P0017 Potential Causes

Before we get into the costs, let’s take a look at the possible causes of the code:

  1. Low oil or wrong oil viscosity. A low engine oil level or wrong oil viscosity can cause excess oil pressure, which can lead to several problems. A low oil simply needs topping up, and you can learn more about engine oil viscosity in our guide.
  2. Bad CMP (Camshaft Position Sensor) wiring. Damage may occur to the wiring over time. These wires should be visible in the engine bay, but the location will vary depending on the car’s make and model. Check your owner’s manual to find the location, and inspect if there’s damage.
  3. Bad camshaft position (CMP) sensor. It’s possible that the sensor itself is faulty and you need to replace it.
  4. Worn out or misaligned timing belt/chain. A worn-out or misaligned timing belt/chain will throw the camshaft and crankshaft out of sync resulting in abnormal readings on the sensor.

Note that apart from inspecting the oil and the CMP wiring, it’ll be very difficult to diagnose this problem on your own if you don’t have the right tools and knowledge. As for the CMP sensor itself, you’ll need to remove it and do a test with a multimeter to determine if it’s faulty:

Meanwhile, inspecting the timing belt/chain will require you to disassemble some parts of the engine. If your car uses a timing chain, you’ll likely hear a rattling noise from the engine if you have a bad timing chain.

Additionally, the CMP sensor in some cars will require you to remove the valve cover.  If you’re not careful, you may damage something in the process. So, we recommend that you don’t do this yourself and leave it to professionals.

P0017 Code Repair Cost

So, how do you fix this issue? More importantly, how much of your hard-earned cash will you have to put out to fix this? Well, it depends on where the issue stems from.

If you have a bad camshaft position sensor or bad wiring, expect to pay anywhere between $170 and $230 including labor. The sensor itself is between $25 and $100 a piece, depending on the make and model. While labor is about another $100 depending on labor rates. However, certain cars—especially luxury cars—may cost more than this estimate.

P0017 Repairs

If you have a misaligned timing belt/chain, the cost will depend on which component has gone bad. A bad timing belt is anywhere between $300 and $500 to replace including labor, while a bad timing chain can cost up to $1,200 to replace since the parts are more expensive.

It’s possible that the misalignment is due to a bad tensioner, as the timing belt/chain needs tension to operate properly. The tensioner replacement will cost up to $400 for a timing belt, and up to $1,000 for a timing chain.

These replacement jobs are expensive because these components are not easily accessible. Additionally, installing the timing belt/chain takes time and skill to do properly. It usually takes anywhere between 4 and 8 hours for a professional mechanic to do this, so you can see how the labor costs add to the total replacement cost.

Can I Repair It Myself?

The only job we recommend doing yourself is replacing the camshaft position sensor. The CMP is usually located outside of the engine block, which means you can easily access it without removing any components beforehand. Even if you have to, most of the components you need to remove are relatively easy.

In this case, what you need to do first is disconnect the car’s battery. Afterward, locate the sensor and remove the wiring harness, then remove the sensor from the engine. Then install the new sensor into the slot, and reconnect the wiring harness.

You may need to undo and then reinstall a bolt or two in the process, but it’s generally quite easy and should take no more than two hours in most cars. Take a look at this example of how to replace the CMP sensor in a Jeep Liberty:

Aside from that, we don’t recommend that you do this yourself. The timing belt/chain replacement, in particular, is a very complicated process, and doing it incorrectly may cause further damage to the engine in which case you’re going to have to put out more money.

Additionally, some of these repairs may take quite a long time to finish. For example, replacing a timing belt will take 4 – 8 hours for a professional mechanic to finish with the right tools. We’re sure you’d prefer to do something else with your time. So, best to leave these repairs to professionals.

If The Repair Cost Is Too Expensive

If you find that the repair cost is just too high to justify, consider selling your car as-is or scrapping it. You should consider this if your car’s resale value isn’t much higher than the repair costs.

For example, if it costs $1,200 to repair your car but the average resale value of your car is around $5,000, you’re probably better off selling your car. However, if your car’s average resale value is still around $10,000, we recommend fixing it since it’s still quite high.

Selling your car as-is means you’ll have to sell it at a lower price, which means you’re still paying for the repair. But this will at least put cash in your hand, rather than having to put out cash.

Scrapping your car can be a great way to squeeze every bit of dollar out of your car if you know what you’re doing. Read our guide to car scrapping to get the most out of your car.

P0017 Trouble Code FAQ

Got any more questions about the P0017 trouble code and camshaft position sensor? Here are some answers you might find helpful:

How To Fix P0017 Code

To fix the P0017 code, make sure you have sufficient oil in your engine and use the right oil viscosity as recommended by your manufacturer. Afterward, try resetting your check engine light. If the light returns and the code persists, you’ll need to replace the faulty components that are causing it. Best case scenario it’s a bad sensor or wiring harness. Worst case scenario you’ll need to readjust, or possibly replace your timing belt or chain.

What Causes A P0017 Code

The most common cause is either a faulty camshaft position sensor or a damaged wiring harness for the sensor. However, older cars may see this code because of mechanical issues such as a worn-out or misaligned timing belt/chain or faulty camshaft solenoid. Additionally, while quite rare, the P0017 code can pop up due to low oil levels or wrong oil viscosity in the engine. Diagnosing the problem can be tricky, it’s best to leave it to a professional mechanic to avoid damage and diagnosing mistakes.

Can I Drive With A P0017 Code

You shouldn’t. The P0017 code means your camshaft position sensor is getting an abnormal reading, and regardless of the original cause, this can cause your engine to run rough and possibly even shut down in the middle of driving. Needless to say, that’s very dangerous. Additionally, if the code is accompanied by a rough or misfiring engine, this can lead to serious and expensive damage if you keep driving. We recommend addressing the problem first before driving, especially if the engine isn’t running smoothly.

P0017 Trouble Code: Wrap Up

To summarize, the P0017 code stands for Exhaust Camshaft Position Not Plausible Bank 1 which indicates the camshaft position sensor in that location is getting an abnormal reading. This usually means you have a faulty sensor or a bad electrical connector for that sensor, which causes it to get an abnormal reading.

If this is the case, it will usually cost no more than around $230 to replace the sensor including labor. You can save money by replacing the sensor yourself, as it’s quite easy to do in most cars.

P0017

However, in older cars, this may mean there’s a mechanical issue with the engine. It’s usually a misaligned or worn-out timing belt/chain that throws the camshaft out of sync, which in turn causes the P0017 code. This is a much more serious issue and can lead to severe damage to the engine sooner than later. We recommend that you don’t ignore this issue.

Diagnosing and repairing the P0017 code can be tricky, especially if the issue lies with your car’s timing belt/chain. We recommend leaving the diagnosis and repairs for this issue to a professional mechanic to avoid any further issues. Hopefully, this article has been helpful for you, and good luck!

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