Rick's Free Auto Repair Advice

P0010 or P0013 trouble code

Diagnose and fix P0010 or P0013 trouble code

A P0010 trouble code is a generic code that translates to an Intake camshaft position actuator actuator solenoid control circuit issue. A P0013 trouble code is also a generic code that translates to an exhaust camshaft position actuator actuator solenoid control circuit issue.

The camshaft actuator system is also referred to as variable valve timing (VVT). The system allows the computer to change the intake and exhaust camshaft timing to vary how and when the valves open and close. For example, all engines have a certain amount of valve overlap; that portion of time during the exhaust stroke when the exhaust valve is closing while the intake valve is opening for the coming intake stroke. During valve overlap, a certain amount of fresh air fuel mixture is swept directly into the exhaust and the some of the exhaust remaining in the cylinder dilutes the incoming air/fuel mixture.

Depending on the engine RPMS this can help or hinder both engine performance and emissions. VVT was designed to allow the PCM to decide when and how long to allow valve overlap and change camshaft/valve timing.

How VVT works

They system works with a combination electro-hydraulic device attached to the front of the intake or exhaust camshaft. In short, when the PCM wants to advance or retard camshaft/valve timing it commands

camshaft phaser

Actuator solenoid

an oil fill of one of two chambers in the VVT mechanism. The fill is performed by an electrically controlled actuator solenoid that receives a varying length electrical pulse that opens and closes a mechanical valve to allow pressurized engine oil to enter the VVT assembly. The pulse duration is determined by the PCM and is calculated based on the recommended oil viscosity and engine temperature. If you change to a difference oil viscosity, you can induce either a P0010 or P0013 trouble code. Using the recommended oil viscosity is critical to the proper operation of the VVT system.
The VVT mechanism incorporates a return spring to return the camshaft to a neutral position in the absence of pressurized oil.

What goes wrong to cause a P0010 or P0013 trouble code

All internal combustion engines burn a certain amount of oil. With extended oil change intervals on modern engines, drivers have become complacent in checking oil level and topping off when low. As crankcase oil levels drop, the remaining oil becomes stressed and loses its additive package at a faster rate, thus reducing the remaining oil life by a substantial amount. So you actually increase engine component wear when your oil is below the recommended level. In addition, short drives and cold starts add more fuel and water to the remaining oil, causing sludge buildup.

Since this stressed and sludge oil is what is pumped through the VVT system, you can actually cause VVT damage by not checking oil levels and by driving in short drive cycles. So the following conditions can cause either a P0010 or P0013 trouble code:
• low oil level. Check and top off
• sludge buildup that clogs the screen on the oil control valve actuator solenoid, preventing proper oil flow into the VVT chambers.
• failed oil control valve actuator solenoid.

How to test an actuator solenoid circuit

Since both the P0010 or P0013 trouble codes relates to the actuator solenoid CIRCUIT, you should begin by testing for both power and ground to the solenoid, as well as checking the resistance on the solenoid windings. You can check solenoid circuit resistance with an automotive digital multimeter. For GM vehicles, the resistance specification is 5Ω between the low reference circuit terminal and ground terminal. If resistance is higher, check for an open condition. Next check for current draw, following the test procedure for the year, make, model engine in your vehicle.

Most common causes of P0010 or P0013 trouble code

1) Failed actuator solenoid, especially on GM engines. Replace
2) Low oil level
3) Sludge buildup on solenoid screen

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Posted on by Rick Muscoplat

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