P0015 Engine Code: A Definitive Guide to Meaning, Causes & Fixes

Are you having a hard time starting your engine? Is your engine idling roughly? Well, there is a high chance that your car might have the P0015 issue. Yes, it is a generic code that indicates something wrong with your vehicle. And it might be the root cause of all of the problems you have been facing.

But is the issue too serious? Should you get your vehicle checked and repaired by a mechanic as soon as possible? Well, in this guide, we will answer it all. You will get to know all about the generic code, the symptoms, the causes, and every else. So, if you want to know it, it would be a good idea to stick until the end of this discussion.

P0015 Engine Code

What Does The P0015 Code Mean?

You will notice the mechanics referring to this code as Camshaft Position B-Timing Over-Retarded. Yes, it is defined such as that. And it refers to the variable camshaft timing or variable valve timing and the powertrain control module ( PCM or ECM) of the vehicle.

Nonetheless, the P0015 is a generic error code that states that the ECM or PCM has determined a problem. And the problem is related to the exhaust camshaft timing. Usually, if the code is up, it means that the problem is in bank 1, and it states that the timing of the camshaft is off.

As you might have guessed, by over-retarded, the code states that the camshaft’s timing is delayed. And this over-retarding issue can occur during the retarding phase or advancing phase. In other words, the crankshaft and the camshaft timing are off, and the crankshaft is ahead of the camshaft.

What Are The Symptoms of P0015?

The primary cause of the P0015 will degrade the running condition of your four-wheeler. And it will potentially impact the overall performance of the engine just like the P0015 BMW and P0015 Mercedes. Nonetheless, when your car has the issue, you will notice these symptoms:

  • The check engine light will come on when the timing stays retarded when it is commanded to move
  • You will have a hard time starting the engine (which often leads people to mix it up with the Fuel Rail Pressure Too Low – Engine Cranking code)
  • Due to the retarded timing, the engine will have low power condition 
  • Decrease in terms of the fuel mileage
  • The engine might run rougher than usual
  • Engine misfiring and stalling
  • Rough idle

Amon all of these symptoms, the check engine is the most common. It is then followed by the rough idle, stalling, misfiring, and rough start. Whenever drivers face all of the problems combined, there is really no doubt regarding what the problem actually is.

What Are The Causes of P0015?

Like any other error code, the P0015 can be caused for multiple reasons. However, some causes are more common than the others. And they are:

  • Incorrect shifting of the camshaft
  • The Variable Valve Timing is defective, stuck open, or the oil flow control valve is compromised.
  • Oil contamination or varnish buildup
  • Shorting in the wiring of the Variable Valve Timing oil flow control valve
  • The voltage on the VVT oil flow valve is not ideal
  • Continuous flow of oil to the piston chamber of the VCT
  • The ECM or the OCV has an open circuit

How To Fix the P0015 problem?

How To Fix the P0015 problem

The P0015 issue is not the end of the world. You can get the problem fixed and ride your vehicle normally like any other error code. And the steps that you would need to follow to fix the issue are:

Step 1: Check the VCT solenoid

With the P0015, the main thing that you should be concerned with is the VCT solenoid. And you will need to monitor the overall performance of this solenoid before doing anything else.

On that note, whenever you are performing any tests for the VCT unit, you will need to refer to the specific manual of the vehicle. Remember, technicians and dealers will usually have advanced tools to diagnose and repair the error code. So, if you do not know what you are doing, you should leave things for your mechanic.

Step 2: Replace the defective parts

If you find that the oil flow control valve of the solenoid is defective, you will need to replace it. In most cases, that should solve the problem. However, the case might not be the same for you. And your problem might persist. 

Well, in that case, you will need to check the cam phaser. It might be stuck open. And if you find it like that, you will need to get it replaced.

Step 3: Get the oil and filter changed

No matter whether you are replacing the oil flow control valve or the phaser, an oil and filter change is a must. The dirty oil will cause buildup on the new phaser and valve. And with time, the buildup of the sludge might make your new parts show issues pretty quickly.

How To Diagnose The P0015 Issue?

Diagnosing the P0015 issue is not that much of a big deal. However, it does involve multiple steps. And when you get your vehicle to a technician to check whether it has the P0015 issue or not, the technician would carry out these steps:

  • Check the wiring and the connection of the OCV and ensure that they are in good working order
  • Test the oil for cleanliness and appropriate viscosity
  • Document the engine codes and look them up
  • Analyze the free frame data to understand when the code was actually set
  • To see if the code returns or not, the mechanic will reset the Check Engine Light and test the vehicle on the road
  • Use a scan tool to take control of the camshaft timing and then check whether the timing changes after switching the OCV on and off

On that note, some of the manufacturers will provide a test for this code. And the troubleshooting method that they follow can easily go to the root cause of the problem. You should also note that you can make things worse if you carry out the troubleshooting and diagnosis in the wrong way.

Is The P0015 Engine Code Serious?

Unlike some of the issues, the P0015 case does not mean that your vehicle will break down or stop running. It is a moderate issue, and you can still ride with your car with the engine light still on. But you need to understand that the problem affects the fuel economy and engine’s power.

Furthermore, if you drive with the camshaft being in the retarded timing for a prolonged amount of time, your engine might start to develop internal issues. You might even fail to start your engine at one point.

What Is The Cost To Fix the P0015 Issue?

The thing with the P0015 issue is that it can be trigged for multiple reasons. And the repair cost will not be the same for each of them. Basically, the cost will highly depend on what things need to be replaced. If it is just the OCV and all of the parts are okay, the typical cost would be $190 to $350 for the parts.

Now, if the camshafts require a replacement, the cost can go all the way up to $1250. Nonetheless, the cost can surely come down if you can detect the root of the issue. That would even lower the cost of the replacement.

Final Words

The P0015 is one of the most common engine codes that happen to Ford, BMW, Toyota, and many other cars. And as you can see, it is undoubtedly possible to fix the issue. All you need to do is follow the proper steps at home or take it to your trusty mechanic. Your car should be up and running in flawless condition in no time!