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How Do You Reset Code P0012 on Ford F150?

The P0012 code in Ford F150 says, “A” Camshaft Position – Timing Over-Retarded (Bank 1).” This means that the camshaft position sensor detects that the engine’s timing is over-retarded on bank 1. Mainly, this code gets triggered by a faulty VCT solenoid.

In addition, a damaged cam phaser, faulty wirings and a bad timing belt can also trigger this. With this code, you will experience a decrease in your truck’s performance.

In the upcoming sections, we will discuss resetting the P0012 code on the Ford F150

Source: Car Treatments

What does the Code P0012 mean?

The P0012 code on Ford F150 means the camshaft has a problem with the VCT solenoid.

The camshaft position sensor has detected that the camshaft timing is off in relation to the crankshaft timing. That means the camshaft is failing to open and close at the appropriate time.

Although a faulty VCT solenoid is the main cause for triggering the P0012 code, other reasons exist, like a faulty camshaft position sensor or a faulty ECM. But these are highly unlikely and rare cases.

How Serious is the P0012 Code?

The error code P0012 is a very serious issue, and you should try to fix the problem as soon as possible. As the Ford F150 has an interference engine, depending on the mistiming, the valves, and pistons can collide with each other. This will cause permanent engine damage.

In a best-case scenario, if you still drive with the P0012 code, your truck will have reduced fuel efficiency, and the engine will make loud noises when accelerating.

This will make driving an unpleasant experience for you and for the people around you.

How to Diagnose and Fix the Code P0012 on Ford F150?

Now that you get the gist of the problem, let’s dig deep to find the solutions.

Reasons

The main reason for the P0012 code is a malfunctioning VCT solenoid. But the reason for the malfunction could be different. For example-

  • Low, dirty, or wrong engine oil.
  • Faulty VCT solenoids
  • VCT solenoid circuit open or shorted
  • Camshaft phaser damaged
  • Worn or cracked timing belt or chain 

Symptoms

P0012 Ford F150 symptoms are mentioned below-

  • Check the engine light on
  • Hard starting
  • Stalling
  • Rough idling
  • Loud engine noise when driving
  • Low fuel efficiency
  • Low engine performance

Solution 1: Change the Oil

The first thing you need to check is the engine oil. If you’re using the wrong or contaminated oil, it can cause the VCT solenoid to malfunction.

Ford recommends using 5W-30 grade engine oil in the F150. However, if you want the smoothest engine operation, you should use a full synthetic 5W-30. For the engine oil quality, here is a video to check the quality-

What Does Bad Car Engine Oil Look Like? Good Oil vs Bad Oil

Now, if your engine oil is dirty or contaminated, you need to change the oil ASAP, which should solve the problem. Check out this video for guidance-

F-150 Oil Change: 2011-2016 3.5L EcoBoost

However, if that doesn’t work, let’s move on to the next solution.

Solution 2: Check and Replace the VCT Solenoid

Here are the steps to check the VCT solenoid-

  • Locate the VCT solenoids: The VCT solenoids are usually located behind the oil filler tube and underneath the power steering. But refer to the owner’s manual for confirmation. 
  • Disconnect the battery: Disconnect the negative cable of the battery and then the positive one. 
  • Remove the VCT solenoids: Remove the VCT solenoid on the driver side, as the code indicates a problem only with that one. But you must remove the air intake pipe and power steering reservoir to access that.
  • Test the solenoid: Connect the solenoids to a 12v battery using alligator clips. The solenoids should make a clicking noise after connecting to the battery. Also, check the resistance of the solenoid using a multimeter. The resistance should be between 5-15 ohms. 

If the VCT solenoid is not working, replace it with a new one.

Source: Ford

Solution 3: Check Continuity in the Wiring Harness

If the solenoids are okay, you must check their respective wiring harnesses. Use a multimeter to check the continuity of the wiring harness. This ensures power to the solenoids.

If the connector does not have continuity, you will have to replace the wiring harness as well.

Solution 4: Check the Camshaft Phaser

Next, check the camshaft phaser. Check the camshaft phaser for corrosion or damage. In that case, inspecting the VCT (variable camshaft timing) phaser indicator fingers on both the left and right heads is advisable. The phaser should have a total of five indicator fingers.

Under normal circumstances, the phaser sprocket should exhibit an “L” marking above its odd-numbered finger. 

An incorrect installation can be indicated by the phaser indicator’s odd finger on the right side.

Conversely, the odd finger on the left side could indicate debris lodged inside, leading to insufficient rotation.

If this is the case, you may need to disassemble the cam phaser to identify the underlying issue.

Here is a video showing the disassembly process: 

3.5L EcoBoost DIY Cam Phaser Disassembly & Replacement

A corroded cam phaser can be cleaned using baking soda and water. Spread baking soda all over the corrosion, then use a small amount of water to make a paste.

Leave the paste on the cam phaser for 30 minutes, then wash it off. If the cam phaser is damaged, you will need to replace it.

Solution 5: Check the Timing Belt or Chain

If the cam phaser is not the problem, a wrongly timed or damaged timing belt/chain may be the problem. The Ford F150s made after 2007 have a timing chain instead of a belt.

Check your timing belt or chain for damage. Also, check the timing of the engine. This video may be useful for determining if your vehicle’s timing is accurate-

Ford 5.4L 3v Engine Timing Walkthrough

In the event of incorrect timing, re-time your engine. But if the timing belt or chain is damaged, replace it.

How to Take Care of the VCT Solenoid in Ford F150

Regular maintenance can prevent the P0012 code and keep the VCT system healthy in your Ford F150. Here are some tips to maintain the VCT solenoids-

  • Use the correct engine oil: Using the wrong engine oil can damage the VCT solenoids and cam phasers.
  • Change your engine oil: Change and replenish your engine oil every 7,500 to 10,000 miles if your engine uses full synthetic engine oil. Normally the rule of thumb is to change engine oil every 3,000 miles. 
  • Use OEM parts: If you need to replace the cam phaser, timing belt/chain, or solenoids, always try to use OEM parts instead of aftermarket ones.

Final thoughts

So, that’s all about the code P0012 in Ford F150. This is a pretty serious issue that requires immediate attention, so do try to fix the problem as quickly as possible.

However, if the diagnosis is beyond your skill level, contact an expert or take your Ford F150 to a skilled mechanic.

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