What Are the Symptoms of a Bad Camshaft Sensor?

by Jonathan Lister
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As automobiles become more complex, they depend on their operational sensors, such as the camshaft sensor, to monitor rotational speeds and assist the on-board computer. When the camshaft sensor malfunctions, it can affect the vehicle's performance, from engine speed to fuel economy. The camshaft sensor is an integral part of the engine's operating system, and losing its functionality can be the tip of the iceberg for greater engine failure. Knowing the symptoms of a bad camshaft sensor can help a mechanic navigate the often complex systems of ignition and engine performance.

Engine Sputtering

The camshaft sensor communicates the positional rotation of the camshaft to the on-board computer. When the censor malfunctions, the readouts may throw off spark timing which will impact fuel economy and cause the engine to misfire in some, if not all, cases.

Poor Acceleration

Since the camshaft is not rotating properly because the sensor is not regulating its speed, the pistons that the sensor monitors will also be out of sync. Fuel will be delivered to the engine intermittently, resulting in poor piston function, and the car will struggle to accelerate and maintain speed. Over time this condition will worsen as more of the car's engine components are affected.

Stalling/Inability to Start

At low speeds a bad camshaft sensor will cause the car's engine to stall. The engine may also experience an inability to turn over, resulting in the car not starting. This may not happen all the time since the car's on-board computer will use the last readouts from the camshaft sensor to operate the pistons and manage fuel flow, which will allow the car to start; however, the driver will continue to experience the other symptoms mentioned above.

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