. It is particularly common among Audi, BMW, Ford, Hyundai, Mercedes Benz, Mini, Nissan, Jeep, and Volkswagen. Specifications on the definition, troubleshooting, and repairs, of course, vary from one make and model to another.
The PCM (powertrain control module, also known as ECM or engine control module in other vehicle makes) is the computer of the vehicle. It monitors and manages the engine’s ignition system, fuel injection, emissions systems, the mechanical positioning of the rotating assemblies, and transmission. One of the many systems it manages is the VVT or Variable Valve Timing, which allows the PCM to monitor the timing between the camshaft and the crankshaft. It’s an important process that ensures the engine’s efficiency and fuel consumption. Engine’s ideal timing, of course, varies from varying conditions, and this is what the VVT is for.
Error Code P054A happens when the PCM has determined an “overly” advanced VVT position for camshaft timing on bank 1. This usually happens during cold start. VVT self-test failure is caused by exceeded maximum calibration of the camshaft timing, or remaining in an advanced position. The Bank 1 on the description refers to the side of the engine that contains the cylinder #1.
Note: The “B” camshaft is either the exhaust, right, or left camshaft. Left/Right and Front/Rear are determined as though one is sitting in the driver’s seat.
- Poor engine performance
- Increase in fuel consumption
- Cold start issues
- Possible misfire on start-up
There are several possible causes for this code, such as:
- Defective crankshaft position sensor
- Damaged camshaft position sensor
- Defective intake valve timing solenoid valve
- Faulty intake valve timing intermediate lock control solenoid valve
- Debris accumulated on signal pick-up part of the camshaft sensor
- Incorrectly installed timing chain
- Contaminated oil groove for intake valve timing control
How to Check
As with most error codes, the best way to start this diagnosis is with the help of a TSB (technical service bulletin), as most manufacturers provide a comprehensive guide for diagnosis and repairs for known issues.
Most vehicles have upgradeable PCM. If a replacement is needed, it’s best to use a brand new factory PCM and to install it with the newest software. This step, of course, is done by an authorized service center of your vehicle’s make.
Misdiagnosis is very common for codes like this, and people often replace the PCM when the issue is a defective engine sensor. Thus, it is important to have the problem diagnosed thoroughly by a qualified technician.
Next, make sure the camshaft is checked for leaks, as this can cause more issues down the road if left unattended. You can refer to your manual for the specific diagnosis and locate components.
Depending on the type of camshaft sensor you have for your vehicle (Variable reluctant sensor, Hall effect, etc.), diagnostics vary from makes and models. With that said, there should be power present at the sensor to monitor the position of the shafts. If found defective, replace the sensor, and then reset the codes to test if it comes back again on a test drive.
How to Fix
Common repairs include:
- Replacement or reprogramming/updating of the PCM
- Replacement of the camshaft sensor
- Replacement of the crankshaft sensor
- Repair or replacement of the intake valve timing control solenoid valve
- Repair or replacement of intake valve timing intermediate lock control solenoid valve
The fact that the term “cold start” is in the description of this code, it pays to check the cold start injector. In some vehicles, it’s mounted to the cylinder head and somewhat accessible. The injector harness is susceptible to drying up and cracking, due to its conditions, which can lead to intermittent connection. This could also lead to cold start issue. Thus, be careful when disconnecting any injector connector during your diagnosis, as they can be brittle.