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Old 12-14-2017, 10:14 AM   #1
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P1381 VCT error code fix!

So like many of my fellow Focus friends, I changed the timing belt, tensioner, and pulley because I was not sure when it was done by the previous owner. It was my first time doing this job on any car so naturally I searched the forum and found that people kept on reffering to Tom. I was able to get into contact and he ofcourse gave me very good advice on the specific things to look out for. Again Tom, thank you for all your help! Long story short, I got the belt and tensioner, and pulley all changed out, new valve cover gasket, got it all tightened down and now ready to restart the motor. Turned her over, let her run for a little while and no check engine lights! Tom specifically mentioned that if I were to get a p1381 code to call him and he will walk me through the steps. After about an hour and a half of motor run time (the car was still on jacks do to other maintenance being conducted) the engine light came on. I was able to fix what I was working on and drive her over to autozone and had them check the code. Mind you, the car sounded like it ran perfectly! No bogging, not shuttering, no loss of power (didnít get on it but it responded fine when I pushed the pedal.) sure enough it was the p1381 VCT over-advanced code. Called Tom up and he was very very specific on what to do to fix it! He specifically asked me how long it took after the motor was on for the engine light to come on. Take note of how long it takes! Tom said that since it took the motor being on for an hour and a half to realize there was an issue, the timing is just barely off! The steps to fix this is very simple but crucial so pay attention to what your doing and TAKE YOUR TIME!
1. Take valve cover off
2. Put rags under the intake cam gear
3. Pop that plug (t55) off the end of the cam gear, oil will come out so thatís why the rags were there. Tom mentioned that about a coffee cup amount can come out so put down a lot of rags, you donít want to soak your brand new belt! For me it was extremely cold here so the viscosity of the oil was thick and not too much came out.
4. Get some vice grips or an adjustable wrench and hold onto the cam keeping it in one spot! THIS IS CRUCIAL!! You need to make sure you can hold the cam in one spot because if it moves too much your timing will be off even more!
5. The cam bolt is a E18 torq socket. I did not have this socket so I ran autozone and they didnít even have it. Went to Home Depot and it came in a kit (did not sell individually) for $24 by Husky... Loosen the cam bolt, you donít have to loosen it much just break torque and thatís it. Remember HOLD THE CAM STILL!
6. For me since I got the over-advanced code, I had to turn the cam with the wrench or vice grips whatever you use, in the direction the motor naturally spins. This is where you will be correcting your time. Mine was so slightly off I just barley had to move the cam, not even a notch length on the cam gear!
7. Continue to hold the cam in the new position and tighten the cam bolt back up!
8. Re-install the plug at the end of the cam gear
9. Re-install the valve cover nice and easy and make sure you get all the bolts seated down correctly.
10. Nobody would clear the code and I donít have an XCAL so I disconnected the batter for 10 min and then went for a drive. This time I drove around for a good hour and a half and no engine light so I would call it good! You can get another engine code and it if says the opposite of what you got the first time then obviously you turned the cam too far.
I apologize for this being alittke long but detail is key, especially anything with timing. Again I canít thank Tom enough for helping me out with this issue and answering all of my questions. Iím not too sure on how to tag other users so if you know how please tag Tom in this. Hope this helps anybody that may be having the same trouble of their own!


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Old 12-14-2017, 12:24 PM   #2
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Nice writeup!
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Old 12-15-2017, 10:06 AM   #3
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Thank you my friend, I just hope it will be able to help anybody else with the same issues
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Old 05-29-2018, 09:31 AM   #4
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I saw this-

My SVTF MODS:
I have an FS-Werks "canned" tune where my idle speed was lowered down to 850/900 RPM
Stock airbox with K/N filter
CFM ORP
MSD Ignition module w/ matching MSD spark plug wires
180F lo-temp thermostat


I did my T-belt this weekend,

So the car started up fine, normal initial hi-idle at 1,500 rpm then about 20 or 30 seconds goes to the lower idle speed but now at 700/750 rpm

Semi-rough, like a V8 hotrod idle, sorta stumbling but if I tap the gas pedal to 1,000 rpm: The engine sounds "back-to-normal"

NO initial check-engine light [CEL]....

.................................................................................................... .......................................................................

So I test-drove the SVTF, seems to run normal until I'm at a stop-sign or stop-light [signal-light] which I kinda wanna tap the accelerator to be sure it doesn't "die-on-me"....

15 minutes and 6 miles no CEL, I go back 3 hours later to start the car.... CEL....

P1381

I was think maybe I "bleed" a little bit of the oil out of the VCT cam cover to release some pressure first.
Then reset/clear the code- go for a test drive & see if that might help before going into loosing the actual cam gear?
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Old 05-29-2018, 11:42 AM   #5
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Great post, thanks. I'm getting the 1383 myself. I'll tear into it this weekend and see if this fixes the issue- it seems like it logically should. Thanks for posting!
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Old 05-30-2018, 06:59 PM   #6
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I honestly have no idea how releasing the pressure in the VCT solinoid will work but for me I needed to actually loosen the cam gear. It was much easier with 2 people. Take your time and just slowly apply pressure to loosen it, that you you minimize slipping and just messing up your time all together. Remember to just move the cam a very small degree amount at a time. I found out that it doesn’t matter how long you drive for, as soon as you turn off the car and turn it back on the code pops up right away. It may take a couple tries but that’s what I needed to do to fix mine.
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Old 05-31-2018, 09:11 AM   #7
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With Engine off the VCT or the Intake cam gear have NO pressure on them

If the VCT is off a lot you can get a CEL in 10-15 seconds why sitting and idling , If your close to correct you might drive 30 Min before you get a light there does seem to be a correlation to how quick the light comes on to how far off you are

You MUST make sure your moving the cam in the right direction and you want to move it such a small amount that you can hardly tell you moved it

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Old 06-01-2018, 12:09 AM   #8
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X2 that last post first sentence. The VCT may hold a residual pressure amount that bleeds down at engine stop but 'releasing pressure' there does absolutely nothing as the cylinder re-establishes the working pressure as soon as the engine starts back up. You basically did nothing there.

The error code comes from the cam being slightly off time to the VCT cylinder itself, there is timing there as well, the so-called third timing mark that is there to set on later designs, Ford makes no mention of it on the SVT.

The cams can time to the crank but what about the VCT cylinder to the cam it is on? The Ford procedure is supposed to automatically take care of that but it is often in error as the procedure itself is stupid in the way they go about doing it.

Tom will get you there lickety-split.
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Old 06-01-2018, 02:38 PM   #9
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Na , the gear it self behind the cap never has any Psi on it , Only the inner workings and only why its running and has oil psi

Tom
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Old 06-03-2018, 01:11 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 1turbofocus View Post
Na , the gear it self behind the cap never has any Psi on it , Only the inner workings and only why its running and has oil psi

Tom
To "break" or just nudge loose the inner cam bolt, I can hold the cam itself with strap-wrench & crescent-wrench, right?

Or do I have to also put a strap-wrench on the "hump" part of the cam as well?

Thanks....

........................................................................................................

Now that's it's finally cooled off, its on-and-off rain every few hours, so I'm just prepping myself here for what's next to micro-adjust my cam....
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