Many people tend to bulk all problems under the hood under that vaguest of catch-alls: "engine trouble". The truth is that there are many other parts involved in getting your ride going that are more likely to be at fault-a camshaft position sensor is just one of them.
What does a camshaft position sensor do?
Simply put, a camshaft position sensor determines the position and rotational speed (in RPM) of the crank. This is important because this information is used to control ignition timing and/or fuel injection timing. All of that allows your engine to function in the oh-so precise way, with the absolutely perfect timing, that it requires. Without it, you're not exactly dead in the water immediately, but you'll be limping quite a ways-making for a very uncomfortable drive.
How can I tell if I need a new one?
The absolute worst-case scenario with a faulty camshaft position sensor is that there is no spark in the cylinder-you'll be going nowhere real quick. The other things to look out for are:
- Excessively long cranking when starting cold: your car makes a crink-crink-crink sound without ever starting up.
- Frequent rough runs: you'll be driving along all right one moment and then things get inexplicably rough and your engine sounds like it is struggling.
- Poor idling characteristics: you'll notice that when you're stopped (and the engine is still running) that the engine sounds like it's gasping for air.
- Acceleration Stalls: you try to speed up and your engine suddenly dies.
Any tips for getting a good-quality camshaft position sensor?
Here are a few things that you have to look out for to make sure you get the perfect sensor for your ride.
- Know thy ride: Camshaft position sensors differ greatly in size, appearance, and fit between automobile makes and models so make absolutely sure that you check for an exact fit for your vehicle
*NOTE* There is no such thing as a Universal camshaft position sensor-look for tags that state that it is Direct Fit or OEM Specified
- Check for durability ratings: Specifically, you'll want a sensor that can withstand at least 300 degrees Fahrenheit, and is resistant to high humidity. Any sensors with a rating below that will likely break down far too easily.
- Be Protected from EMI: Sensors that are affected by electromagnetic interference (EMI) won't be as accurate, if at all effective. Makes sure the one you are getting is tried and tested for resistance to EMI.