P0012 Ford F150: Understanding the Meaning and Causes of This Error Code

When your Ford F150 check engine light comes on, it can be frustrating. What does P0012 mean? What are the causes? How do you fix it? We’ll answer all of those questions and more in this post. 

Keep reading to learn more about P0012 and what to do if it comes on in your truck.

Definition of P0012 Ford F150: Variable Camshaft Timing Over Retarded Bank 1

What Does P0012 Ford F150 Mean?

P0012 is a DTC or diagnostic trouble code that may indicate a problem with your Ford F150. This code typically indicates that the VCT (variable camshaft timing) position is over-retarded, meaning that it has gone over the max calibrated value or is remaining in a retarded position for too long. 

Determining the exact cause of this issue can be tricky and may require the assistance of a certified mechanic, who will perform diagnostics to properly assess and repair the problem. Also, anyone familiar with P0021 Ford F150, may have a better idea regarding how to deal with this code.

What Is Variable Camshaft Timing?

Variable camshaft timing, or VCT, is a type of engine technology that allows the timing of the camshaft to be adjusted in response to various factors such as fuel economy, performance, and emissions. 

The central component of VCT is a variable camshaft sensor that continuously monitors the position of the camshaft, allowing DTC (dynamic torque control) software to adjust the timing accordingly.

Symptoms of P0012 Ford F150

Here’re the symptoms you should check out for. 

Bad idle quality

When the camshaft actuator fails, it becomes difficult for the engine to maintain the correct idle speed. This can cause the engine to run rough and produce poor idle quality. In some cases, the engine may even stall. 

Lower gas mileage

If your FORD engine is experiencing decreased gas mileage, it is likely due to the P0012 code. This code indicates that the engine’s cam timing is not optimal, which can lead to poor combustion and reduced fuel efficiency. 

Reduced power

The reduced engine power can be a potential symptom. Because the cam profile won’t allow it to run a performance power curve when more power is required. 

Check engine light

The check engine light is a warning light that comes on when there is an issue with the vehicle’s engine. The P0012 FORD code means that there is an issue with the camshaft timing chain or timing belt.

Motor will not start easily

The timing belt is responsible for keeping the engine’s crankshaft and camshafts in sync. If it slips or breaks, the motor will not be able to start. 

Causes of P0012 Ford F150

Let’s learn about the causes here. 

Worn out Timing Belt

Misalignment, under-tensioning, and overburdening are the most common causes of a timing belt becoming worn out. A drive structure that is shaky can also cause the timing belt to become worn out prematurely. 

Broken Camshaft Variable Timing Solenoid 

One of the reasons that the Camshaft Variable Timing Solenoid may break is due to a problem with the fuel control valve. When this valve is not functioning properly, it can cause the timing chain to jump, which will ultimately result in the solenoid breaking. The symptoms of this problem include a check engine light coming on, as well as the engine stalling or running rough. 

Wrong Fuel

If you notice any oil spills, burning oil smells, or poor fuel mileage, it could be a sign that you’re using the wrong oil in your car. This can cause major problems with your car’s functionality and performance. 

Low Engine oil

Low engine oil can cause P0012 code by leading to excessive wear and tear on the internal components of the engine. If your vehicle is showing signs of running rough or losing power, it is important to check your oil levels as quickly as possible. 

How to Fix P0012 Ford F150 Code

How to Fix P0012 Ford F150 Code

Here’s the step-by-step guide for fixing the issue.

Step 1: Reset trouble codes

The first step in repairing a P0012 Ford F150 code is to reset the error codes and put the car through a driving test. This will help you determine whether the issue is caused by an electrical problem or a mechanical issue, so that you can begin making any necessary repairs.

Step 2: Check connection to the crankshaft oil control valve

If the issue appears to be related to an electrical problem, then your next step should be to check the cabling or connection to the crankshaft oil control valve on your Ford F150. This component may need to be repaired or replaced in order for the vehicle to function properly again.

Step 3: Replace Pollen filter

In addition to repairing any possible electrical issues, you may also need to replace the pollen filter on your Ford F150 in order to meet the engine’s guidelines for viscosity. This will ensure that your engine is able to operate smoothly and efficiently.

Step 4: Check chain drives for any alignment problems

Finally, you may also want to check for any alignment issues in the chain drives on your Ford F150. If there are any problems with this part of your car, then you may need to make some repairs in order to get it back into proper working condition.

Is The Code A Serious Problem?

The P0012 Ford F150 code is considered to be a serious issue, as it can cause significant damage to several important engine components. Symptoms of this error may include reduced fuel mileage, shaking sounds from the motor, and rough engine speed.

If left untreated, the code could also lead to carbon clogging and other serious issues. Therefore, it is important to have this code properly diagnosed and repaired by a qualified mechanic as soon as possible.

How to Diagnose P0012 Code?

  • Before switching off your Check Engine Light, look for any other codes you may have in addition to P0012.
  • Make sure the engine’s oil is sufficient and of good quality.
  • Ensure that the fuel cap and/or valve cover are in good working order and that the master cylinder is not clogged with gunk.
  • If all of the above are in order, check the motor oil level.
  • A professional must be consulted if the problem persists to prevent premature engine replacement.

Cost of Fixing the P0012 Ford F150 Code

The cost of repairing a P0012 Ford F150 code will vary depending on the severity of the issue and which parts need to be replaced or repaired. For example, something as simple as changing the oil may only cost $20-$60, while something more serious like an engine change could cost $3000-$4000. 

Additionally, the cost of replacing or repairing the control solenoid for VVT could range anywhere from $300-$400. Overall, it is essential to work with a qualified mechanic in order to get an accurate estimate of the cost of repairing a P0012 Ford F150 code.


1. Can dirty oil cause P0012

It is possible that dirty oil could cause P0012 if it leads to increased wear and tear on the engine components.

2. Can I ride with a P0012 code?

No, it is not safe to ride with the engine light on. This code indicates that your vehicle’s camshaft position isn’t right, which can lead to serious car issues such as stalling and loss of power.


We hope this article has been helpful in explaining the P0012 Ford F150 code and its causes. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms associated with this code, we recommend having your vehicle inspected by a qualified technician as soon as possible. Thanks for reading!

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