What Is a Camshaft Position Sensor?

What Is a Camshaft Position Sensor?

11th Jul 2019

Has your vehicle been diagnosed with a bad camshaft position sensor? Also known as the top dead center (TDC) sensor, the camshaft sensor plays an important role in the function of modern-day vehicles. Unfortunately, though, most drivers have never even heard of this component, let alone know its function. So, what is the camshaft position sensor exactly?

Overview of the Camshaft Position Sensor

The camshaft position sensor is responsible for collecting data about your engine's camshaft, specifically the speed at which the camshaft rotates, and providing this data to your vehicle's engine control module (ECM). The ECM, of course, is the main computer that's responsible for regulating various components and functions in your vehicle. Once the ECM receives data from the camshaft position sensor, it sends the appropriate commands to dictate ignition timing as well as fuel injection timing.

Symptoms of a Bad Camshaft Position Sensor

A bad or failing camshaft position sensor may cause a variety of symptoms, one of which is the Check Engine Light (CEL). If you see the CEL illuminated in your vehicle's dashboard, either take your mechanic to have the code read or read the code yourself using an OBD2 scanner tool. You can then look up the code to see if the fault is associated with the camshaft position sensor.

The CEL won't always illuminate if your vehicle's camshaft position is bad. With that said, there are other symptoms that may indicate a bad or failing camshaft position sensor. In addition to the CEL, you may experience frequent engine stalling. This is because the fuel injection timing is off, so your vehicle's engine isn't receiving fuel from the injectors at the right time.

Poor fuel economy is another symptom of a bad or failing camshaft position sensor. Again, this is due to the fact that the camshaft position sensor controls fuel injection timing. When this occurs, your vehicle's fuel injectors may pump an excessive amount of fuel into your engine's combustion chamber.

Some vehicles may enter limp mode when the camshaft position sensor fails. Of course, limp mode refers to a state in which a vehicle's power is significantly reduced. It's designed to protect the vehicle from potentially catastrophic damage.

If your vehicle has a bad or failing camshaft position sensor, you should get it replaced as soon as possible. Because of its role in ignition timing and fuel injection timing, the camshaft position sensor is an important component that shouldn't be overlooked.