Before we can look at the job of the camshaft sensor, we need to look at the camshaft itself. A camshaft is a metal piece with a rotating shaft that has lobes, the so-called cams. When the shaft moves, these cams are in charge of opening and closing the valves, allowing the perfect amount of fuel-air mixture into the cylinder. They also help to remove the exhaust gases out afterward. A car either has one camshaft for all cylinders or one each for the intake and exhaust valves. Some engines even have four.
The camshaft works as the opposing force to the crankshaft and they are both connected by the timing belt to work in unison.
Your car make dictates where you will find the camshaft sensor, an integral part of the camshaft. It can either sit at the front of the camshaft, on the back of the cylinder head, or next to the engine block.
So what is a camshaft sensor? The camshaft position sensor’s job is in its name: it determines the position of the camshaft in relation to the crankshaft. Through electronic signals, the ECU of your car is informed about its position and movement speed. At the same time, the ECU collects the signals from the crankshaft sensor. Together this information is used to perfect the timing of the spark ignition and the output of the fuel injectors. Thanks to this, the engine can fire and run as efficiently as possible, making the camshaft sensor a small but important part in your vehicle.
Unfortunately, the camshaft sensor is usually the cause when there is an issue with the camshaft. Usually, the sensor will last quite a long time, but since it is both mechanical and electrical, two types of problem can arise. Issues can occur after an accident or due to regular wear and tear.
Breakage can lead to a faulty camshaft sensor as well as short circuits, which make the sensor’s chips go bad. In addition, there can be a connection error between the camshaft position sensor and the ECU.
Driving with a faulty camshaft sensor is not advisable. In the best case scenario, your fuel consumption will go up and driving will become uncomfortable. In the worst case scenario, your car can abruptly stop while driving.
There are a few camshaft sensor fault symptoms to look out for that may tell you about a potential failure in advance. It is important not to ignore these symptoms because a bad camshaft sensor could lead to an accident or complete engine failure.
Check engine light
If the check engine light comes on there can be various reasons for it, but it is a good idea to do a camshaft position sensor test. This way, the mechanic can troubleshoot and read your ECU’s error codes with a diagnostic scan tool. Certain codes point directly to a defective camshaft sensor.
There are a few other ways to check if the camshaft position sensor is bad and your garage can help if you suspect a faulty sensor.
Driving feels uncomfortable
Overall driving can become difficult with a faulty camshaft sensor since your engine isn’t perfectly timed anymore. You may notice your car stalling, rough idling, slow acceleration, less engine power, and more jerking.
After a while, you may also notice that your vehicle is becoming less fuel-efficient.
Car won’t start
If the camshaft position sensor is faulty, the transmission signal to the ECU gets weaker and weaker. Over time it might not transmit at all and you won’t be able to start your car. While this is an inconvenience, it can get dangerous while driving: if the transmission signal abruptly dies so does the engine.
If you are driving an automatic you may have trouble shifting gears with a faulty sensor. You can temporarily bypass this issue by restarting your car but you should still have it checked at a garage as soon as possible.
If you know your way around your car then you can easily replace a faulty camshaft sensor yourself. However, in some cars, it can be rather tricky to find its position. When in doubt, take it to a garage nearby so they can do a camshaft sensor replacement for you. Luckily, it is a relatively inexpensive repair and shouldn’t take much longer than an hour. Ultimately, you should always have a faulty sensor replaced, as it will save you potential costly trouble with your engine.
On autobutler.co.uk you can request various quotes from garages nearby to compare prices for a camshaft position sensor replacement.
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