Last Updated on September 3, 2021
When you’re driving down the road or starting up your car, the last thing you want to see is a check engine light. But for thousands of drivers every day, that’s exactly what happens.
But once you read the code, you’ve only done so much – you still need to figure out what it is and how to fix it. So, what is a P0016 code, how serious is it, and how do you fix it?
We’ll walk you through everything you need to know to get your vehicle back on the road as soon as possible.
What Does Code P0016 Mean?
When everything is working as it should, it should run in a perfect 1:2 ratio where the crankshaft makes one rotation for every two rotations of the camshaft. But not only do they need to stay in this 1:2 ratio, but it goes deeper than that.
That 1:2 ratio is no accident. If one component lags a little more than the other one, it won’t matter if they stay in the same ratio since the lobes are no longer lined up correctly.
This means that intake and exhaust valves won’t open at the right time, and the overall engine timing will be off.
Symptoms of Code P0016
Outside of the check engine light, you might not notice too many symptoms of a code P0016 unless the timing is completely off. Two commons symptoms include:
These two symptoms mean that you won’t get the same acceleration and top speeds you’re used to, you might notice an engine lag, and of course, you’ll be making more trips to the gas station.
If the timing is completely off, you might notice extremely rough and noisy engine performance. But if the problem has progressed this far chances are internal engine damage has already happened. Don’t run the vehicle at all, or the damage can get even worse – and more expensive.
And even if you’re lucky and more engine damage doesn’t result, the longer it takes you to get your vehicle to the shop, the more you’ll be spending on fuel – only adding to the overall cost of repairs.
Causes of Code P0016
While there aren’t many symptoms of a code P0016, there are a few potential causes. While the most common cause is a worn timing belt, other possible causes include:
- Camshaft variable timing solenoid failure
- Low engine oil/wrong engine oil
- Incorrect engine timing
- Variable valve timing actuator failure
While a worn timing belt is the most likely cause, you can’t rule out a faulty solenoid or even something as simple as low oil creating the problem.
If you’re looking to track down the cause of your code P0016, you’ll either need to take it to a mechanic or invest in a scan tool that lets you look at various outputs.
Is Code P0016 Serious?
Yes! Your crankshaft and camshaft are locked in a timing sequence to keep everything in your engine running the way it should. Once that timing gets out of sync everything in your engine can be off.
But it’s about more than just a little less power or using a little more fuel. Over time, having the timing out of sync will lead to engine damage. It’s not a matter of if – it’s a matter of when.
Compounding the issue is that if the problem is a worn timing belt, then the timing will only get worse too. Eventually, the entire belt can snap, the engine can seize, or you can even crack a header.
These problems can add over $2,000 to your repair bill, and of course, you’ll still need to address the original problem! In short, driving with a code P0016 is a really expensive gamble.
How to Fix
If you have a code P0016, there’s a good chance you’re not going to be able to fix it yourself. If you just got an oil change, verify the right oil is in your vehicle and check the overall oil level.
If the wrong oil is in your vehicle, complete a full flush of the oil system and use the right oil. If the oil is low, you’ll need to find out where the oil is going, repair the issue, then top off the oil.
But if either of those two conditions isn’t your problem, it’s not an easy issue to troubleshoot or repair. If you are looking to tackle it on your own, you’ll need an OBD-II scan tool that gives you access to various engine data.
From there, you can track down the faulty components and make the necessary repairs. If you choose to take it to a repair shop, costs can range from $500 to $1,000 for a timing belt to $300 to $400 for a camshaft variable timing solenoid.
And while you might be hoping for a faulty solenoid, the most likely cause of a code P0016 is a worn timing belt.