What does the P0016 OBD-II code mean?

When a P0016 OBD-II generic code is triggered, it alerts the driver that the camshaft position sensor (CMP) for bank 1, which detects camshaft rotation, is not corresponding to the crankshaft position sensor (CKP) signal. 

The CMP relays the information to the vehicle’s Powertrain Control Module (PCM). The PCM uses that data to control the fuel injectors for ignition timing to keep cylinders firing efficiently. 

The CKP relays crankshaft position and engine RPM to the PCM, and again, the data is used by the PCM to control ignition timing and fuel injection. Unfortunately, when the signal from either the CMP or CKP sensors is incorrect or defective, the PCM simply can’t efficiently manage engine timing leading to startup problems and idling issues.

On most vehicle applications, the camshaft position sensor is located near the cylinder head so that the CMP is opposite the timing rotor attached to the engine camshaft. In addition, the crankshaft position sensor is to be found on the fuel pump on some diesel applications, the flexplate/flywheel, or the crankshaft pulley (or harmonic balancer as it’s also known).

How serious is the P0016 code?

This particular OBD-II trouble code is deemed to be severe as your camshaft and crankshaft aren’t lining up correctly. The timing chain may have issues with guides or tensioners, leading to engine damage if the valves hit the pistons. Depending on the part that has failed, driving the vehicle for any lengthy period may cause additional internal engine problems. The car is likely to be hard to start, and once running, the engine may be hesitant and stall.

What are the common symptoms of a P0016 trouble code?

You will likely notice significant issues with the vehicle if a P0016 OBD-II trouble code is activated. The following are the most common symptoms:

    • The Check Engine Light is illuminated
    • The engine may be hard to start or have a reduction in power
    • The engine may be hesitant, stall or generally run rough
    • Poor fuel economy
    • Decreased engine performance
    • Timing chain noise
    • Engine fails to start entirely

What are the causes of a P0016 OBD-II code?

  • Defective or corroded wiring or connections
  • CKP sensor issue
  • CMP sensor issue
  • Stretched timing chain
  • Mechanical faults such as the timing chain jumped teeth, a slipped reluctor ring on the crankshaft or slipped reluctor ring on bank 1 exhaust camshaft
  • Camshaft phaser problem
  • The oil flow to the phaser is hampered by an incorrect oil viscosity or partly clogged passages
  • Oil Control Valve (OCV) has a restriction in the OCV filter.

How to diagnose a P0016 OBD-II code?

The easiest way to diagnose an OBD-II fault code is to use an OBD-II scanner or book a diagnostic check with a trusted mechanic or garage who will:

  • Make visual checks for issues with the wiring and camshaft and crankshaft sensors, and the oil control valve
  • Confirm engine oil is at capacity and that it’s both clean and with the correct viscosity
  • Scan engine codes and view the freeze frame data to see when the code was activated
  • Reset the Check Engine Light and then road test the vehicle to see if the trouble code still exists
  • Instruct the OCV to on and off to see if the camshaft position sensor is alerting timing changes for the bank 1 camshaft
  • Perform the specific manufacturer’s tests for the P0016 trouble code to establish the cause of the code

When diagnosing the P0016 code, it’s essential to verify the codes and the failure before making any attempt to repair it, including making a visual assessment for possible common issues, including the wiring and connections of the components. In many cases, components such as the sensors are quickly replaced when far more common problems are behind a P0016 OBD-II code. By carrying out a pinpoint test, helps avoid misdiagnosis and replacing good components.

How to fix a P0016 OBD-II code?

In some instances, resetting the fault code and performing a road test can solve the issue. However, if the cause is more severe than this, the following work may be necessary. It is recommended to test drive after each check/work is carried out to see if the P0016 code clears. If not, move on to the next repair:

  • Repair the wiring or connections to the components, including the camshaft sensor or camshaft OCV
  • Check the timing chain and guides and replace if needed
  • Replace the camshaft OCV for bank 1 exhaust camshaft
  • Replace the camshaft s