Addressing P0021: Tips for Fixing Camshaft Position Problems

Addressing P0021: Tips for Fixing Camshaft Position Problems

Hey there, friend! If you’ve encountered the P0021 diagnostic trouble code (DTC) in your vehicle, don’t worry – I’m here to break it down for you and provide some helpful advice. Let’s dive into what this code means and how to address it.

What Does This DTC Code Mean?

P0021 stands for “‘A’ Camshaft Position – Timing Over-Advanced or System Performance (Bank 2).” In simpler terms, this code indicates that the intake camshaft timing on bank 2 of your engine is more advanced than what the powertrain control module (PCM) has commanded it to be.

How Serious Is This Issue?

The P0021 code is moderately serious. While it may not cause immediate catastrophic engine failure, it can lead to various performance issues and potentially more severe problems if left unaddressed.

Is It Safe to Drive with This DTC Code?

Driving with the P0021 code is not recommended. The engine may experience poor performance, stalling, or even fail to start. Continued driving can lead to further damage to engine components, making repairs more costly in the long run.

What Are the Symptoms and Common Causes of This DTC Code?


  • Illuminated Check Engine Light
  • Hard starting
  • Rough idling
  • Engine stalling
  • Poor fuel economy
  • Rattling noise from the engine

Common Causes:

  • Faulty variable valve timing (VVT) actuator
  • Worn or damaged timing chain
  • Failed timing chain tensioner or guide
  • Low engine oil
  • Stuck or defective timing valve control solenoid
  • Issues with the PCM or its software

How Can I Fix It?

Here’s a step-by-step approach to fixing the P0021 code:

  1. Check and Change Engine Oil: Ensure the oil level is correct and the oil is clean. Replace if necessary.
  2. Inspect VVT Components: Check the variable valve timing solenoid and actuator for proper operation.
  3. Examine Timing Chain: Inspect the timing chain for wear and proper alignment.
  4. Check Wiring and Connections: Look for any damaged wiring or poor connections related to the camshaft position sensor and VVT system.
  5. Scan for Additional Codes: Use an OBD-II scanner to check for any related codes that might provide more insight into the issue.

Can I Fix This DTC Code Myself?

Some aspects of diagnosing and fixing P0021 can be done at home if you have basic mechanical skills and the right tools. However, more complex tasks like checking the timing chain or replacing the VVT actuator may require professional assistance.

What Parts Might Need Replacement and How Much Will the Repair Cost?

Potential Parts for Replacement:

  • Engine oil and filter: $30 – $70
  • VVT solenoid: $50 – $150
  • Timing chain: $500 – $1,000
  • VVT actuator: $200 – $500
  • Camshaft position sensor: $100 – $200

Will the Repair Be Expensive?

The cost can vary widely depending on the underlying cause. Simple fixes like an oil change are relatively inexpensive, while more complex repairs like replacing the timing chain can be costly. On average, expect to spend between $200 and $1,000.

Can I Reset the DTC Code Myself?

Yes, you can reset the code using an OBD-II scanner. However, if the underlying issue isn’t resolved, the code will likely reappear.

Will It Affect Performance or Fuel Efficiency?

Yes, the P0021 code can significantly impact engine performance and fuel efficiency. You may experience poor idling, engine stalling, and decreased fuel economy.

How Can I Prevent It in the Future?

To prevent future occurrences of P0021:

  • Regularly change your engine oil and filter as per the manufacturer’s recommendations
  • Use the correct type and viscosity of oil for your vehicle
  • Perform routine maintenance checks on the timing chain/belt and VVT system
  • Address any engine performance issues promptly


The P0021 code, while not immediately catastrophic, should be taken seriously. It indicates an issue with your engine’s variable valve timing system, which can lead to poor performance and potential engine damage if left unchecked. While some aspects of diagnosis and repair can be done at home, complex issues may require professional assistance. Regular maintenance and prompt attention to any engine issues can help prevent this code from appearing in the future. Remember, taking care of your vehicle’s engine is crucial for its longevity and your safety on the road.

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