Replacing a Camshaft Sensor

  • 2-3 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 50-100
What You'll Need
Socket wrench
Camshaft sensor
O ring
Service manual

If the camshaft sensor isn’t working properly then your engine will be firing poorly, misfiring or maybe not even firing at all. When that happens, it’s time to replace the camshaft sensor. Luckily, it’s a very simple job and one you can undertake even if you have no real automotive knowledge.

The Role of the Camshaft Sensor

The camshaft sensor is a small piece of equipment that performs a vital function within the engine. You need the spark plugs to fire when the piston is at the very top of its stroke. When this happens, your engine is running at maximum efficiency.

It’s the camshaft sensor that determines when the plugs do fire, so you need to ensure it’s working properly to keep the optimal engine performance in your vehicle.

Step 1 - Safety

To begin, use your wrench to loosen the cable that attaches to the negative terminal on your car battery. Remove the cable and lay it aside. This stops the possibility of a surge occurring that could end up damaging the car’s control module. It also prevents you from accidentally electrocuting yourself in the event of an accident.

Step 2 - Camshaft Sensor

The location of the camshaft sensor in your vehicle is going to depend on the make and model-there’s no standard place for it. Unless you already know what it looks like, you’re going to need to check in your service manual to determine where it is in the engine compartment. If you’re working on your engine for the first time, you should go ahead and purchase a service manual, as you’ll find it very useful for other repairs in the future.

Step 3 - Wires

Once you found the camshaft sensor, you’ll notice that 3 wires are attached to it. These are the sensor output, the feed, and the ground. They clip into the unit. You’ll need to unclip them. Before you do that, mark them and note where each wires goes on the sensor. This can save you plenty of problems later.

Step 4 - Removing the Sensor

There’s no single way to remove the camshaft sensor. It could be held on with screws. Note that if the camshaft sensor is positioned at the engine’s font, then it will usually be a bolt holding it in place. Whichever way it works, remove the old camshaft sensor and discard.

Step 5 - Installing the New Sensor

If you old sensor had a rubber O ring between it and the wall of the engine compartment, you’ll need to make sure a new one is on place on the replacement camshaft sensor. Don’t try to use the old O ring. Put the new camshaft sensor in place and secure it either with screws or the bolt.

Reattach the wires to the sensor, making certain they’re in the correct position and securely connected. You shouldn’t need to make any adjustments. Put the negative battery back over the terminal and tighten it down, then start your car to check the camshaft sensor is working properly.