Oil change caused variable valve timing solenoid code?

bobsmyth

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^ I'm not a certified mechanic, but I am thinking that the combination of a new oil-filter (filled with air) and changing the oil (allowing oil to drain from the pick-up tube and air to get in) produced a few seconds of air instead of oil going through the system. I think those variable valve systems use pressurized oil to actually move the parts and if the oil pressure was not there even for a brief time the system may sense the improper operating fast enough to trip a code. I would bet 10,000 to 1 that there was absolutely no damage done. Just a very brief malfunction due to lack of oil pressure and the system was fast enough to sense the malfunction but not smart enough to know it is something that can occur for a brief time after an oil change.

If it does not happen again until you change the oil again, chalk it up to something meaningless that can happen for a brief time after an oil change.


Yes, I agree with the points you're making. I hope this doesn't happen again, but if it does, I'll take it to a dealership with the code in the system (the code was deleted by my repair shop). If it happens again and GM has to pay $500+ for a warranty repair, that will get their attention!
 

bobsmyth

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My wife's '11 Equinox had a code for an exhaust solenoid. I took it to the garage that works on it and asked what it did and they didn't know for sure. But one thing I know is, the car was serviced by the dealer it came from for 35k miles, before my wife bought it. Using chevy approved dexos oil I trust. And I only use oils that say dexos on the bottle. So if the problem is possibly oil related, how can they require you use their "approved" oil? Never mind that the car eats 5w30 wt dexos oil. I would have to add 2 1/2 qts of make up oil in a regular 5k oci. That has gone down alot since I mix my own brew of thicker oil. And it runs fine, so much for factory oil experts.,,,

Yes, good points. My repair shop said they've seen the variable valve timing solenoid issue on Equinoxs and Terrains with the 2.4L engine. That engine is know for burning oil too and I'm glad your thicker brew has reduced oil consumption.
 

bobsmyth

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This is crazy to happen on such a new vehicle. To blame it on the oil is even crazier. It should be under the powertrain warranty.

Yes, it's under the 5 year / 60,000 mile powertrain warranty, so I have 21 more months of warranty coverage. If I had know there was a powertrain code after the oil change I would have taken it to a Chevrolet dealer instead of an independent repair shop.
 
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My 2018 Chevrolet Equinox has a 2.0L turbocharged engine with 31,000 miles. I change the oil regularly (4-5,000 miles) using Mobil 1. I've had zero problems with this vehicle.

After an oil change a few days ago, when I started the engine, a message came up on the DIC saying "engine power reduced" and the check engine light come on. After restarting the engine, the DIC message disappeared but the check engine light stayed on, and the light was on when I drove to an independent repair shop (my Equinox is an early 2018 model year and is 39 months old and GM's 3-year 36,000 bumper-to-bumper warranty has expired). The engine ran fine when I drove 8 miles to the repair shop.

The shop read the code and said the variable valve timing solenoids needed to be replaced. They said they have seen this issue on older Equinox models when the customer did not put in the correct grade oil. I assured them I have always put in 5W-30 oil. Since it was a powertrain issue, it is likely covered by GM's powertrain 5 year / 60.,000 mile warranty, so I said I would take my Equinox to a Chevrolet dealer.

The shop cleared the code and when I drove home, the check engine light did not come on and the vehicle drove great. It has been 3 days and the check engine light has not come on and the engine runs great. I now hope this was a one-time issue that has gone away.

Does anyone on this forum know why an oil change would trigger this code? Has anyone had a similar experience with an oil change giving what seems to be a false alarm about variable valve timing solenoids?
I went through this with a honda crv. Pulling my hair out reading forum after forum. Most posts were the problem. ZERO posts after they fixed the issue. Changing the oil on an already selinoid just pushes it over th. Needing repair point. A frequent coincidence if you may. Selinoid are cheap on eBay with the same quality as autozone and other retailers putting thier name on the box. Mine were $400 at autozone $29 on eBay. Skeptical I purchased both selinoids and ran like a top.
 
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If it is caused by air it will still happen with future oil changes even if the screen for the solenoid is cleaned and or the solenoid is replaced with a new one.

Kinda reminds me of how on some cars when you change the oil the check oil light comes on for a few seconds on the first start after the oil is changed. Vehicles have been doing that for decades and it has not caused there engines to be damaged. In fact on any vehicle I have owned that did that I looked for the check oil light to come on on the first start after the oil change as a way to check the low oil pressure switch and the bulb for it in the dash.
 

bobsmyth

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If it is caused by air it will still happen with future oil changes even if the screen for the solenoid is cleaned and or the solenoid is replaced with a new one.

Kinda reminds me of how on some cars when you change the oil the check oil light comes on for a few seconds on the first start after the oil is changed. Vehicles have been doing that for decades and it has not caused there engines to be damaged. In fact on any vehicle I have owned that did that I looked for the check oil light to come on on the first start after the oil change as a way to check the low oil pressure switch and the bulb for it in the dash.

I hope it doesn't happen again. When I started the car, I looked for the check oil light to come on, which it did for a second or two. But then I got the DIC message "engine power reduced" and the check engine light was on and stayed on and threw a code.
 

JC1

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Oshawa, Ontario Canada
I'm wondering if the solenoid screens got gradually plugged and this final oil change made them too restrictive? Maybe some of our experts like Trav or Cline can chime in?

Kind of like a drain pipe in your house gradual accumulation of gunk and then it stops.

Any real noticeable drivability improvement now that it's fixed?
 

bobsmyth

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South Carolina
I'm wondering if the solenoid screens got gradually plugged and this final oil change made them too restrictive? Maybe some of our experts like Trav or Cline can chime in?

Kind of like a drain pipe in your house gradual accumulation of gunk and then it stops.

Any real noticeable drivability improvement now that it's fixed?

In my case, the solenoids weren't touched since the check engine light stayed off after the code was cleared. The driveability was good going to and coming back from the repair shop that read the code. Even though I got the "reduced engine power" message on my DIC during the first time I started the car after changing the oil, I never noticed any reduced power.
 

bobsmyth

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My wifes Kia had this issue a couple of years ago . I replaced the solenoids and that fixed it .

I'm glad you could replace the solenoids yourself. The estimate was over $500 for labor and parts to replace my solenoids. If this issue comes back in the next 21 months, I should be able to get the solenoids replaced for free under GM's powertrain warranty.
 
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I'm glad you could replace the solenoids yourself. The estimate was over $500 for labor and parts to replace my solenoids. If this issue comes back in the next 21 months, I should be able to get the solenoids replaced for free under GM's powertrain warranty.
I'm not familiar with the 2.0l in your Equinox, have they made access to the solenoids difficult? I've changed what seems like a million of those things on the old 2.4l as cleaning them has never worked for us. They're right on top sitting next to each other with a 10mm bolt holding each one in, one on the intake side and one on the exhaust side. Unless they've changed where they've put them, $500 is absolutely crazy.
 

bobsmyth

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South Carolina
That is a good point. I'm not a DIY home mechanic so I have not looked into where the solenoids are on the 2.0L turbocharged engine or how to replace them. I'm glad they are easy to replace on a 2.4L GM engine.

Below in red, italicized font is the estimate the repair shop gave me. The cost included an oil flush in case I had put in the wrong type of oil, so the cost to change only the solenoids was about $550. I did not see a breakdown of labor and parts costs.

Also, I attached an image of the fault code the repair shop found.

"These codes almost always point camshaft variable timing solenoid but can be affected by incorrect oil type and weight. Rec replacing Intake and exhaust solenoids and full synthetic oil with cleaner for repair. $618.64 for parts and labor includes tax."


Fault code P0011.jpg
 
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I would proffer that the camshaft phase angle was seen as "out of position" by the CPS and INCORRECTLY blamed solenoid operation failure for a intermittent lack of oil pressure due air in galleries due to the oil change. I have been noticing this sensitivity since day ONE over a decade ago; various cars using VVTi.
Started with my Toyota Yaris and bad replacement TOYOTA thailand oil filters.

Never a problem on my Honda Fit as it did not have VVTi it had VTEC.

NOt saying there is not sludge in the VVT feed screens. Bits of valve seals and silicone gasket flotsam find there way there.

Subaru WRX lost turbos due to turbo oiling feed in the banjo fitting getting clogged.

- Ken
 
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8,639
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Texas
At higher miles it is common for that issue. I am more concerned that you allowed the codes to be cleared knowing you were going to the GM dealership. Now you can only hope that if this was not just a glitch that it happens again while you are still in warranty. More than likely the dealer would have replaced the component(s) under warranty for you anyhow.
 
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8,639
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Texas
I don't have the skills or knowledge to remove the solenoids, so I can't look at the screens. The repair seems to be replacing the solenoids, not cleaning the screens, although if there was a oil-starvation issue due to the oil change, then that could be because of the screens being clogged. Again, I've changed the oil frequently with lots of life left on the oil-life monitor, so I hope the screens aren't dirty.
It is just one 10mm bolt and pull it out - simple job you can do.
 
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