Since the engine uses the readings from both the crankshaft and camshaft sensors, a malfunction of either sensor could affect your engine’s readings and performance.
The camshaft sensor is always operational when you are driving the car or the engine is running. For this reason, the camshaft sensor can go bad over time. Sometimes it is also damaged by oil leaks and cracks. The ring gear may also wear out and interfere with the readings.
In this article, I will show you the signs of a bad camshaft position sensor and the replacement cost in case you need to replace yours. Let’s begin with a look at the signs.
Symptoms Of A Bad Camshaft Position Sensor
The most common symptoms of a bad camshaft position sensor are a hard-to-start engine or a check engine light on your dashboard. You may also notice issues like poor engine performance or a misfiring engine.
While these are not all the signs, they are definitely the most common ones. Here is a more detailed list of the signs of a bad or failing camshaft position sensor to look for:
1. Engine Won’t Start
The most common sign of all bad camshaft position sensor symptoms is that the car will be more difficult to start, or it won’t start at all. As the camshaft sensor becomes weaker, it does not send the signal to the on-board computer, and as a result, the ignition system cannot produce a spark correctly.
No spark means that the engine will not start at all, indicating that the camshaft sensor has failed. Newer cars will detect that the camshaft position sensor is not functioning properly, and they will then use the crankshaft position sensor instead.
2. Check Engine Light Comes On
The check engine light illuminates for many reasons, including when the camshaft position sensor fails. In a lot of cases, the only symptom you will have from a bad camshaft position sensor is a check engine light on your dashboard.
If the check engine light on your car lights up, it is recommended that you visit a car specialist and have your car scanned to check the trouble codes. You can also do this with an OBD scanner at home. People usually ignore the “check engine” light without knowing that this could be a sign of something serious, including engine damage.
3. Poor Engine Performance
One of the most common problems that occur due to a poor camshaft position sensor is that the engine’s power drops dramatically. You will notice frequent stalling, idling, and a drop in engine speed. Fuel efficiency also decreases.
All of these problems should be addressed immediately, and they usually occur because of a damaged camshaft position sensor. This is most often because the engine can go into Limp mode when you have a broken camshaft position sensor.
4. Engine misfire & vibration
In addition to engine vibrations and stalling, a poor camshaft sensor also leads to engine misfires, which may cause vibrations while accelerating. If you feel that your car engine’s performance is reduced and you have a check engine light on the dashboard, it’s definitely time to check your car’s trouble codes.
5. Problems with Shifting Gears
Some cars with an automatic transmission won’t change gears properly if you have a bad camshaft position sensor. This may be because the engine will be in limp mode due to the trouble code from the camshaft position sensor.
6. Bad Fuel consumption
Reduced power due to the camshaft position sensor can also cause a higher fuel consumption. This is pretty rare when it comes to a faulty camshaft position sensor, but it is not impossible. If you experience a high fuel consumption, you should absolutely check the trouble codes for any codes related to the camshaft position sensor.
What is a Camshaft Position Sensor?
The camshaft sensor’s core functionality is to work in combination with the crankshaft sensor of your vehicle. Its purpose is to determine the position of the camshaft drive very precisely. As a result, it generates signals in the same way as the crankshaft position sensor. It helps the engine determine the exact time the first cylinder is in the top dead center position.
The engine system uses the information generated by the camshaft for various purposes. Essentially, the information helps to start the injection process during the sequential injection. It also supports the actuation signal for the pump nozzle injection system and calibrates the knock control.
The Hall principle is the core working concept of a camshaft sensor. A ring gear on the camshaft is scanned, and the rotation of the ring gear causes a change in the voltage of the Hall IC located in the sensor head. This induces a change in the voltage transmission of the control unit.
The information resulting from the change is read electronically and evaluated by the computerized system to record it. In other words, a bad camshaft can also interfere with the functionality of the crankshaft position sensor, and ultimately, it will cause various problems for the overall experience you have with your vehicle in terms of engine performance.
Camshaft position sensor location
The camshaft position sensor is always located near the camshaft, often at the top of the valve cover, but it can also be installed from the side of the cylinder head.
Check around the head or valve cover and follow any electrical wires and you will for sure find the camshaft position sensor.
Camshaft Position Sensor Testing
Camshaft Position sensor replacement cost
The average camshaft position sensor replacement cost is between $100 and $250. The part itself costs between $75 and $120, while labor costs range from $30 to $130.
A little market research will help you get the best price for the part and the associated labor costs.
On average, this part is not very expensive, and the cost of replacing a camshaft position sensor is between $75 and $120 for most vehicles. These prices can vary depending on which supplier you buy it from, where you live, and which company makes it. The cost of replacement in a luxury car can be much higher. If you don’t replace the camshaft position sensor yourself, the labor cost of replacement would be an additional $30 to $130, depending on which car dealer you get it repaired by. If you were to replace it yourself, the cost of replacement would be nearly halved. It can be easily replaced using the tools you most likely already have.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I drive with a bad camshaft position sensor?
It’s not recommended to drive with a bad camshaft position sensor, even if you most likely can. If your camshaft position sensor is bad, it will likely cause your car to run poorly and may even cause it to not start. However, it will most likely not cause your car to shut off. Even so, I wouldn’t recommend driving with a bad camshaft position sensor. It’s best to have the sensor replaced as soon as possible.
Is it hard to replace a camshaft position sensor?
In most car models, replacing the camshaft position sensor is fairly easy, but it depends on the make and model of your car. If you are not comfortable doing the repair yourself, it is best to take your car to a mechanic.
How long does a camshaft sensor last?
The camshaft position sensor is built to last the life of the car, and there is no set maintenance schedule for when the camshaft position sensor should be replaced. It only needs to be replaced when it is damaged or bad.
Will a bad camshaft sensor throw a code?
Yes. A bad camshaft position sensor will in most cases throw a code, and it may also cause your check engine light to come on. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the sensor itself is bad. There could be an issue with the wiring between the sensor and the ECM, or there could be a problem with the way the ECM interprets signals from the sensor.