Know Your Vehicle’s Camshaft Sensor
A Camshaft Sensor is one of the core parts of the ignition system of your vehicle located at the cylinder head of the engine. Basically, a camshaft sensor is used to monitor the position or rotational speed of the crankshaft in an internal combustion engine. If you look into how your car or truck performs, you will understand how a camshaft sensor contributes for smooth driving conditions. These sensors are the modern day replacements of the distributors found in old model vehicles.
Camshaft sensor when used in combination with crankshaft sensor gives precise information about the behaviour of the various pistons and valves in the engine. It helps in controlling the timing of the ignition by indicating the engine control unit (ECU) about the correct position of the piston. Now this information is very valuable for the smooth and efficient working of your car’s engine. The ECU gathers this precise information from the camshaft sensor to correctly adjust the ignition timing and thus helping in sequential fuel injection.
A camshaft sensor is located in accordance with the position of the camshaft- usually these sensors are positioned in the cylinder head of the engine and comes with a cylindrical part that inserts into the block/head. The electronic camshaft sensor has conveniently replaced the distributors that were used in older models of vehicles. It uses advanced electronic technology to automatically monitor the crankshaft position, which had to be adjusted manually to a timing mark on the combustion engine.
The main benefit of using and ignition system based on electronic camshaft sensor over the conventional distributor is that, in the former involves lesser moving parts and less maintenance and supervision. This also reduces the need for timing adjustments and ignition timing variations.
Almost all the modern vehicles have an ignition system with camshaft sensor for managing their ignition timing. The camshaft sensor helps in accurately knowing as to which cylinder is triggering the crucial process that leads to injector synchronization and coil firing sequence in the ignition system.
Typically, the camshaft sensors are available in two varieties – magnetic and Hall sensors. A magnetic sensor uses a shielded coil of wire to induce magnetic voltage between the wires as the tooth pass through them. The Hall sensors on the other hand use a Hall effect integrated circuit and a magnet to achieve the effect. You can make clear distinctions between the two types of sensor by checking the number of connecting wires. While the Hall sensors come with 3 wires, the magnetic cam sensors have two connecting wires.
The relationship between the rotation of the camshaft and the rotation of the crankshaft is of critical importance especially if the engine uses variable valve timing. The camshaft sensor informs the Powertrain Control Module (PCM) about the position of the camshaft in relation to the crankshaft. This helps the management module to know when exactly it should inject the fuel. This method of synchronization is widely used in measuring the speed of the engine in terms of revolutions per minute.
A fault in your camshaft sensor can affect the performance and efficiency of your vehicle. If the sensor ceases to work efficiently, the ECU may not be able to fire the fuel injectors as it does not know when to trigger the fuel injectors precisely. Consequently, this affects the vehicle’s operation due to the fault in spark timing. Typically camshaft sensor failure occurs due to unhealthy exposure to high heat or frequent oil leaks.
You can determine if your camshaft sensor is malfunctioning simply by checking certain symptoms. One major sign of a faulty censor is the frequent stalling and backfiring. In this situation your vehicle may run for a few meters and then stall abruptly without any sign to start again. Other warning signs of a faulty camshaft sensor to look out for include extra- long cranking time, no-spark situation, loss of acceleration, spluttering on start-up etc.