OBD2 Code P0016: What It Means

Figuring out why your Check Engine Light is on means deciphering OBD-II (or “OBD2”) codes, and that can be kind … Continued

Figuring out why your Check Engine Light is on means deciphering OBD-II (or “OBD2”) codes, and that can be kind of annoying. That’s why Car Bibles did it for you! You’re welcome, now let’s get into solving your issue.

OBD2 P0016: What It Means

This code reads as crankshaft-camshaft position correlation (bank 1 sensor A)” which sounds scary but actually helps narrow down your issue. It means that the crankshaft position sensor and camshaft position sensors aren’t seeing the same thing. Let’s solve it!

Likely Symptoms 

Here’s what you may experience due to the P0016 code:

  • Check Engine Light
  • Crank but no start. If the sensors can’t synchronize properly, the engine will be unable to start itself. The engine relies on these sensors to “see” where it is, without them it cannot determine when to fire the spark plug.
  • Rough engine running. Without the proper synchronization of the two sensors, the engine cannot “see” what it’s doing, so it will run rough, maybe not at all.
  • Timing chain noise. If the timing chain is stretched and old enough, it can cause the engine computer to see the slack and trigger the code. If it’s this bad, then usually something has failed, and there’ll be a sound.
  • Decreased power. With the engine potentially out of time, and the engine running “blind” you will naturally lose power.

Probable Causes

Here’s what could be causing the issue:

  • Bad crank or cam sensor. If one or the other fails, it will trigger this code and not be able to start either.
  • Stretched timing chain. Usually the car will run poorly with a severely stretched chain, and trigger this code. The chain has physically lengthened itself over time so that the engine computer recognizes the massive difference in the two sensors, and sends out the OBD code.
  • Timing chain jumped timing. A loose timing chain can “jump” timing, meaning that it can skip teeth on the chain. If this happens, the engine will be wildly out of time and cause the P0016 code, and potentially catastrophic engine damage.
  • Tone ring damaged or spun. The sensors use a “tone ring” to identify where the engine is in its rotation. These rings have teeth and gaps to give the sensor info on specific degrees of engine rotation. Though highly unlikely, they can spin, or get damaged, and the sensor will not be able to know its place. 

What Part Is Potentially Affected?

This code is more likely serious than not. At worst, a car that has this code and doesn’t start has likely already jumped timing severely enough to blow to engine. If the engine still runs, but rough, do not drive the car and repair the issue. Any way you slice it, this can cause serious internal damage to the engine.

Possible Fixes

Here are the most common fixes to remedy the P0016 code:

  • Replace crankshaft or camshaft position sensor. If either of these sensors are completely failed, pull them and inspect. Usually these sensors have a resistance specification, or a diagnostic tool can see if voltages are out of normal ranges. If any of this applies, replace the sensors and try to run the engine.
  • Replace timing chain and related components. Inspect the timing of the engine, and verify if the engine has jumped timing, or if the chain is stretched. Most engines have marks to make this pretty easy. If the chain has moved a lot, replace it.

Finding The Parts You Need

Now that you’ve figured out what’s wrong with your hooptie, let’s talk about where you’re gonna find that part’s replacement.

There are plenty of places you can buy auto parts from, but Car Bibles gets paid if you click this Advance Auto link so that’s the one we’re serving up. Advance Auto Parts also has delivery, curbside pickup, and a host of helpful diagrams to aid your repair!

Chris Rosales
Chris Rosales

Chris has owned 12 cars of questionable quality, is an experienced motorsports photographer, and a good all-around wrench. When he isn’t tinkering with his car in his home garage, you can catch Chris in the canyons around SoCal. He also hopelessly hankers for Euros, but he honestly knows he should get something Japanese, eventually. Contact the author here.