Camshaft position sensors are one of those car parts that people never think about until they break. You know, the ones that you can’t put your finger on and say what it does.
This cam sensor monitors camshaft motion and sends that data to the engine control module. If it’s not hooked up properly, your car may not start or run smoothly. A camshaft position sensor is like a tachometer for engines–it helps regulate how much fuel enters combustion chambers, ignition timing, and emission output from tailpipes while also helping your engine produce more power.
Is it safe to drive with a bad camshaft position sensor? Is there any way you can test or diagnose this issue yourself?
This article will discuss symptoms of a bad camshaft position sensor, how you can test and diagnose for one, and what happens if you ignore this problem!
Table of Contents
- What is a camshaft sensor?
- Is it safe to drive with a bad camshaft sensor?
- Symptoms of a bad camshaft sensor
- Camshaft position sensor repair costs
- Can I replace my own camshaft position sensor?
- Where is my camshaft position sensor located?
- How to reset crankshaft position sensor no start?
- What causes a camshaft sensor to go bad?
- Can you clean a camshaft position sensor?
What is a camshaft sensor?
A camshaft position sensor is an electronic device that monitors the motion of a car’s camshaft and feeds data to the vehicle’s ECM. The ECM needs this information in order for it to properly regulate how much fuel enters combustion chambers, ignition timing, and emissions output from tailpipes. When air/fuel mixtures are ignited at precisely the right time by spark plugs, engines can produce more power while also decreasing gas consumption.
Is it safe to drive with a bad camshaft sensor?
Yes, it is safe to drive with a bad camshaft sensor. However, the performance of your engine will not be as good and fuel consumption may increase. If you have any trouble with your camshaft sensor, there are a few ways to test and diagnose the problem.
You can test for a camshaft position sensor by consulting your vehicle’s service manual or asking your mechanic about the location on the engine where they’ll need to do an inspection. They will be able to use specialized equipment and diagnostic tools to test for camshaft position sensor problems.
In some cases, the camshaft may need replacement if there are any other symptoms of failure on this component.
If a camshaft position sensor is not repaired, then you will likely experience more and more issues with your vehicle’s ignition system that could lead up to very expensive repairs.
Symptoms of a bad camshaft sensor
Your car will not abruptly fail if there is a problem with your camshaft ignition sensor, you can still drive without one, but the overall performance of your vehicle will degrade over time. These are the signs you can be on the lookout for to let you know that something is wrong so that you can get it looked at before things get too bad:
If you notice your car starts missing in the higher end of its RPM range, it’s a sign that camshaft timing is off. Mismatched fuel delivery and ignition timing, even if off by a few milliseconds, will cause your vehicle to sputter, accelerate poorly, lack power, stall, or even shut off.
A camshaft position sensor that is not properly regulating engine timing or fuel supply may also cause your car to have a rough idle. This can be caused by an un-tuned carburetor, but it’s most commonly the camshaft ignition sensor going bad and should be diagnosed as soon as possible.
Poor gas mileage
If you notice a significant increase in gas consumption without any noticeable decrease in power, it’s because your camshaft timing is off. This will result in poor fuel economy which can be an expensive problem to fix if the camshaft ignition sensor continues to go bad and not regulate how much fuel enters the combustion chamber.
Lack of power
A camshaft position sensor not regulating ignition timing will cause the engine to lack power. This can happen because of a camshaft position sensor going bad and should be diagnosed as soon as possible before any further damage is done.
The camshaft position sensor monitors the motion of your camshaft so that the ECM in your car can regulate fuel flow, timing, and emissions output. When camshaft position sensors go bad they can cause rough idle, poor fuel economy, engine misfires in the higher end of your RPMs range, or a lack of power.
Check engine light
When your camshaft position sensor begins to have trouble, the first thing you’ll notice is that your check engine light will turn on inside of the car. Obviously, this warning light could indicate a number of problems while also not being associated with a bad camshaft position sensor. To diagnose this issue, you can use either an OBD2 scan tool to retrieve the stored diagnostic trouble code(s) or have a mechanic take the car for inspection.
If camshaft timing is not properly regulated, you may experience acceleration problems. This is because you’re not having the fuel and air mixture injected at the right time for combustion to happen. If the camshaft position sensor is not triggering timing properly, then the engine will have to work much harder in order to get up and going. This can lead to other issues like rough idle or misfires on the higher end of RPMs range if your camshaft ignition sensors go bad.
Camshaft position sensor repair costs
It’ll cost as little as $20 or $30 to do yourself. It is very likely that when you go to the mechanic you will have to pay from $100 to $200. Since there is a significant price difference and labor involved, you can choose to replace the sensors yourself for cheaper. It’s not too difficult to find and replace the sensor within the engine and this will likely save you some money. It is safe to say that it’s relatively inexpensive to purchase.
Can I replace my own camshaft position sensor?
If you’ve had a few basic DIY vehicle repair projects under your belt, then replacing a camshaft position sensor should be easy. If you’ve never been under the hood of your car before then it is best to familiarize yourself with what a camshaft sensor looks like, how they are installed in cars, and how they work.
Where is my camshaft position sensor located?
The camshaft position sensor is always located near the camshaft, often at or around the top of the valve cover. To locate it, check for any electrical wires around the valve cover and follow them to the sensor.
How to reset crankshaft position sensor no start?
All of your car’s accessories need to be turned off for this test, or they will interfere with the measurements.
Next, accelerate at part throttle until you reach 55 mph and then cruise there for 5-6 minutes so that any vibrations from accelerating can dissipate before making another run.
Next, decelerate down to 45 mph without using your brakes and maintain this speed for 1 minute.
Lastly, perform 4 deceleration cycles, without braking, for 25 seconds each cycle. No specific speed is necessary.
What causes a camshaft sensor to go bad?
There are many reasons why the camshaft position sensor could fail. Some of these include wear-and-tear, water damage, and oil embedded in the engine. There are also sensors that fail due to corrosion, which is a common problem for camshaft position sensor circuits.
A camshaft position sensor can fail due to an accident. In the event of a failure, it may be necessary to replace the engine control module and associated wiring. Circumstances like an oil leak due to a bad head gasket or defective or loose oil cap can interrupt the sensor’s signal from the wires. While it is not uncommon for camshaft sensors to fail completely, sometimes the issue may be tied to another engine component.
Can you clean a camshaft position sensor?
Yes, you can clean your camshaft position sensor, just follow these steps:
- disconnect the negative battery cable
- locate the camshaft sensor
- detach the three wires from the sensor, remember where they go so you can install them back properly
- remove the camshaft sensor and place it on a clean towel
- spray a little amount of solvent on the sensor, and wipe it dry
- replace the camshaft sensor, re-install the three wires in their original spots, and reconnect the negative battery cable