Last Updated on October 24, 2023 by Kevin Chen
Camshaft sensor source: CarTreatmements
A camshaft is a key component of a car’s engine. So, a camshaft position sensor (CMP) is type of device designed to monitor the exact position of a camshaft internal combustion engine. The position is measured with reference to the position of a crankshaft-another key component of an engine. This information is then relayed to the car’s engine control unit which will then execute various moves or trigger an array of reactions.
Do you have an issue with your camshaft position sensor? Would you like to buy camshaft position sensors? Here is a perfect guide for you. We are going to look at everything you should know about this sensory automotive device.
What is the function of a camshaft position sensor?
As we have already mentioned, the main function of a camshaft position sensor is to monitor the position and rotational speed of a camshaft and send the data to the engine control module.
Well, it does more than just sense the position of the camshaft. Here are other critical functions of this position sensor.
While sensing the position of the camshaft, the position sensor will control the timing of the combustion cycle in the engine.
A car’s engine control module (ECM) will use the signals from the position sensor to know the exact position of the camshaft while at the same time the position of the valves. His data will then be used to control the timing of the ignition and fuel injection.
Proper timing goes a long way in facilitating the smooth running of a vehicle’s engine.
Facilitating fuel efficiency
As we have just discussed, the camshaft position sensor has a direct impact on the engine timing. This has a direct impact on the vehicle’s combustion rate. The data from the sensor ensures that the engine runs at the most optimum levels hence reducing the consumption levels.
Controlling the emissions
The position of a camshaft will determine the emission coming from the vehicle. The signals from the camshaft position sensor will trigger the engine control module to regulate the mixing of air and fuel. This will in turn regulate the engine’s emission. So, if you want to cut down the emission coming from your vehicle, it will be a smart move to ensure your position sensor is in perfect condition.
Enhance the performance of the engine
One of the core functions of a camshaft position sensor is to get the best performance from your engine. It ensures that the engine gets the right power and runs at the right speed all the time. This stems from the fact that the information from the sensor will determine the timing and fuel injection actions in the engine. These will in turn improve the acceleration of the engine when needed.
A Camshaft position sensor has a role to play when it comes to enhancing the vehicle’s safety. A faulty camshaft position sensor can trigger a myriad of safety issues including the unexpected stalling of the vehicle. This can be of major concern when you are driving on highways.
The signals from the sensor will send necessary data about the vehicle to the ECM. This will then help a driver to react in time hence preventing dangerous situations.
From this list, you can tell that a camshaft position sensor has big role to play in a vehicle. Failure of this sensor can lead to a myriad of problems for the engine and vehicle in general.
Types of camshaft position sensors
There are two main types of camshaft position sensors. These are the magnetic cam shaft position sensors and hall effect position sensors. What is the difference between them and which one should I use?
The magnetic camshaft position sensor
As the name suggests, this type of camshaft position sensor utilizes the power of a magnetic field to generate signals which will be used to indicate the exact position of a camshaft. The magnet is mounted right at the top of a camshaft and as it rotates, it generates the magnetic field which flows through the coil.
The magnetic coil will then generate electric signals which will be transmitted to the engine control module (ECM). This signal will be translated and used to control the timing and injection actions by the engine.
Hall effect camshaft position sensors
Unlike the previous type, the hall effect sensors use a semiconductor device to generate the signals that will indicate the exact position of a camshaft. Despite the reliance of semiconductor, they also have a magnet that generates the magnetic field which will be detected by the chip.
The semiconductor chip will generate electric signals which will be transmitted to the engine control module. This data will then be used to trigger various actions and events on the vehicle.
Keep in mind that both types of sensors have their unique set of cons and pros. Magnetic camshaft sensors are preferred for their durability and reliability. However, they are not easy to install thanks to their larger sizes. On the other hand, hall effect camshaft sensors are easy to install and this is mainly because of their small sizes. However, they are super sensitive to temperature changes.
Your car model and its engine specifications will determine the type of camshaft sensor that you will use. Consult the vehicle’s manufacturer’s manual for the details.
Where is the camshaft position sensor in my vehicle?
In most vehicles, the camshaft position sensor is found right next to the camshaft, and sometimes on the cylinder head of the engine.
When it comes to the cylinder head, you will find the sensor next to the camshaft sprocket. This position allows the sensor to accurately monitor the position of the camshaft.
Some engines have their camshaft position sensors located on the timing cover which is right at the front of the engine. At this position, the sensor will sense the exact location of the camshaft via the sprocket.
The engine block is another ideal position for the camshaft position sensor. Here, the sensor is mounted on the side of the engine. While the position is ideal for enhancing the accuracy of the engine, it can be quite difficult to access.
So, before you start working on your camshaft position sensor, you should know its exact location.
Symptoms of a bad camshaft position sensor
How can I tell that my camshaft position sensor is failing? There are various symptoms of a failing CMP. They include the following:
Check engine light
In most vehicles, it will start with the illumination of the ‘Check engine’ light. While many other problems can lead to this light, a failing camshaft position sensor is definitely one of them.
You will need an Onboard diagnostics machine to isolate this issue and determine whether the light is due to a failing CMP or it is another issue.
A failing camshaft position sensor will make the engine to misfire. In some cases, it will run at high revs or run roughly even when idle. Such actions stem from the fact that the camshaft position sensor controls the combustion cycle and timing of the engine. Remove these two critical functions and you will have a rough-running engine.
Difficulty in starting the engine
Are you having trouble when staring at the engine? Maybe it will take several attempts before the engine fire up. In some cases, the engine will not start at all. This is another sign of a bad camshaft position sensor. Remember that the sensor controls the ignition timing and this is why you are likely to experience some difficulty in starting up the engine.
Poor fuel consumption
Are you spending too much on fuel in recent days? The camshaft position sensor could be the main culprit. Probably it is keeping the fuel injectors for longer periods than required hence allowing more fuel into the combustion chamber. Another reason could be due to the poor fuel combustion timing cycle.
Bad driving experience
A smooth driving experience is characterized by smooth acceleration whereby the car responds to your actions accordingly. A mismatch of power delivery and unexpected loss of power could be a sign of a bad camshaft position sensor. Poor drivability can manifest itself in the form of constant transmission problems.
Diagnosis of a camshaft position sensor
After experiencing the above symptoms, the next logical step to take is to diagnose the sensor. A scan tool will come in handy when doing such a diagnosis. It can read the signals from the sensor and give them out in the form of codes.
Physical diagnosis entails checking out the wires and other electronic components of the camshaft position sensor.
A professional mechanic may come in handy when diagnosing the CMP. They will even look into other problems that may be affecting the performance of your vehicle.
If your camshaft position sensor is found to be faulty, you will have to replace it. Ensure that the replacement is of high quality for better performance and to avoid future problems.
Now you know what a camshaft position sensor is, what it does, and when to tell that it is failing. In case you want to need any information about it, it will be wise to seek advice from electronic professionals. Even if it is importing camshaft position sensors in bulk.
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