A camshaft sensor is an integral part of the modern automobile. It is one of the devices that helps the engine run smoothly. The camshaft sensor is located under the hood, beside the engine, however, it isn’t always easy to find it. This is because the exact position of the camshaft sensor depends on the car brand. That said, whichever the car, you’ll find the camshaft sensor in either one of three locations: beside the engine block, behind the cylinder head, or in the car’s lifter valley.
The camshaft sensor is a small, but significant, magnetic device. It gathers and sends information about the car’s camshaft speed (and as a result the position of each piston) to the car’s electronic control module. This information is received by the computer, which then uses this data to further calculate the time of ignition and the timing of fuel injection required by the engine. This information is vital for engine function.
At times, either due to accidents or wear and tear, the camshaft sensor can weaken. In the case of a camshaft sensor failure, the weak or disrupted signal is interpreted by the computer as a problem. This affects the proper running of the vehicle and should be replaced or repaired. A failing camshaft sensor can be identified based on any one of the three following symptoms.
1. "Check Engine" Light
The first symptom of a failing camshaft sensor manifests as a warning from the car’s control module. As the camshaft sensor fails, the computer sends the driver a warning sign via the “check engine” light on the car’s dashboard. When the check engine light first comes on, the driver has enough time to service the car and replace all faulty parts, including the failing camshaft sensor. However, if you ignore this flashing light for a considerable time, it could later lead to severe engine trouble.
2. Disrupted Driving
Another symptom of a failing camshaft sensor is experiencing constant disruption while driving. If you are experiencing symptoms like frequent stalling, poor idling of the car at 500 to 600 rpms, a massive drop in the rpms slowing down the car to a crawl, a noticeable drop in engine power, poor mileage, abnormal acceleration activity, frequent stumbling, etc., it probably means you have a failing camshaft sensor that needs immediate attention. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is best to seek a mechanic before the situation gets worse and the car gives up, refusing to start at all.
3. Ignition Trouble
If you ignore all of the above symptoms, you end up with one that really can’t be ignored—no ignition. Remember, as the sensor begins to weaken, so does the signal it transmits to the car’s computerized control station. If you let the problem carry on for too long, the engine will suffer from a “no spark” situation. Once the signal switches off, so will your engine, thereby stranding you. Thus, it is best not to let your car get to this stage.