What Happens When a Camshaft Sensor Goes Bad

Many parts of a vehicle work hand in hand to make the vehicle move comfortably. Some of these parts are really small but they perform great tasks or roles.

A camshaft position sensor is one of those; it is a component of the engine that makes the proper motion of the car possible. So, what happens when a camshaft sensor goes bad?

When a camshaft sensor goes bad you will have acceleration and ignition problems; you will experience a lack of power, misfiring of the engine, stall of the engine, jacks, and surges, notification light, rough idle, poor gas mileage, etc.

Can a Camshaft Sensor Go Bad?

Yes, it is possible for the camshaft position sensor to go bad.

A camshaft position sensor is an electronic device whose job is to monitor the movement of the camshaft of the vehicle and transmit the signal to the Engine Control Module (ECM) of the vehicle.

This signal is required by the Engine Control Module to perform its regulation duty. The Engine Control Module is responsible for regulating the amount of fuel that goes into the combustion chambers and other places.

With such great roles, the camshaft position sensor performs, it is risky for you to drive your vehicle with a bad sensor.

What Happens When a Camshaft Sensor Goes Bad?

When the camshaft sensor goes bad, you will experience:

1. Acceleration Problems

When a camshaft position sensor is bad, what it is supposed to do will not be done. The mixture of air and fuel will not be injected simultaneously which affects the combustion process.

If the timing is not correctly and accurately triggered by the camshaft position sensor, what happens is that the engine will work twice as hard in order to move very well thereby giving you acceleration problems.

2. Ignition Problems

The ignition process is triggered by the camshaft position sensor. You must be wondering how. This is it. As the camshaft position sensor works in its normal operation, signals are transmitted from it to the computer of your car.

If the camshaft position sensor is not working well, the signals transmitted to the computer of your car will not be accurate.

Now, a weak signal or a completely dead signal cannot jolt the ignition process. This is because the computer of your car is not receiving the correct signals of the functionality of the camshaft.

3. Lack of Power

A bad camshaft position sensor cannot regulate the timing of the ignition properly. This will lead to a loss of power in the engine.

You do not want more damage to be done to the engine of your car so as soon as you notice this, you need the camshaft sensor to be tested immediately.

The monitoring of motion in the camshaft of your car is done by the camshaft position sensor. If the sensor is not working well, the ECM will not work well as well.

4. Misfiring of the Engine

While driving, you might observe that your car has been missing the upper end of the RPM range. It is a symptom of bad camshaft position sensors.

When the ignition timing and fuel delivery are unequal or uneven, your car can experience several problems including poor acceleration, sputtering, misfiring, power loss, and a complete shut-down.

5. Stall of the Engine

A stall of your car’s engine is bound to occur when the camshaft position sensor stops working. Why does this happen?

Fuel injectors in your car’s engine are not injecting fuel into the cylinder at the proper time due to the bad camshaft position sensor.

The bad camshaft position sensor does not send the information to the computer of your car to let it know that the camshaft is ready to do its job.

If injection of the fuel is performed too late or even too early, the combustion process will not occur and the engine will stall

More problems can arise from this. If the engine stalls when you are on the expressway, accidents could happen.

6. Notification Light

A very good sign of a bad camshaft position sensor is the appearance of the check engine light on the dashboard of your car. The only disadvantage with this is that the light could mean many other things and not just a problem with the camshaft position sensor.

An OBD2 scanner can be used to diagnose and find the problem with the engine. Mechanics have this scanner in their workshops so a drive there can have it all sorted. If you like to DIY, you can purchase the OBD2 scanner and perform the scan yourself.

The scan will not make the issue go away but it will pinpoint the faulty component of your engine.

7. Jerks and Surges

Due to the fact that the engine cannot function as it should when the camshaft position sensor is bad, your engine will experience sudden jerks along the drive. Unforeseen surges in the engine will also occur.

This happens because the ECM  does not receive the information it requires from the camshaft position sensor. Ultimately, your engine suffers from inadequate fuel leading to a decrease in performance.

Sudden jerks and surges of your engine can lead to multiple accidents on the roads as well.

8. Rough Idle

A faulty camshaft position sensor that causes reduced fuel supply will also lead to a “rough idle”.

9. Poor Gas Mileage

If you observe that there is an increase in the consumption of gas in your car and no proportional decrease in power, it means that the camshaft position sensor is faulty.

That the camshaft sensor of your car is bad does not mean that you cannot drive the car. Driving the car with a bad camshaft sensor is possible however the overall performance of the car will be inhibited.

What are the Causes of Bad Camshaft Sensors?

A bad camshaft position sensor can be caused by many factors. They include damage caused by water, overheating, impurities, timing belts, oil embedded in the engine, wear-and-tear, corrosion, etc. All these can cause the camshaft sensor of a vehicle to go bad.

It is not uncommon to hear that the reason a camshaft position sensor is bad is due to an accident. When the camshaft position sensor fails, you have to replace the ECM (Engine Control Module) and the wiring with the component.

Oil leaks in the engine from the gasket or a loose oil camp can also disrupt the flow of signal from the camshaft position sensor.

A camshaft position sensor is liable to get bad by itself but sometimes it might be caused by another component in the engine.

Final Thoughts

As soon as you realize that the camshaft position sensor is bad, you should have it checked out and replaced.

Driving with a bad camshaft sensor is not unsafe. The effect of driving with a bad camshaft sensor is that the performance of your engine will not be high and the fuel consumption will be high.

If you notice a problem with your engine and you are not sure of the cause, get your car scanned. A scan will pinpoint the cause of the notification light.

Knowing the signs of a bad camshaft position sensor, you should use this knowledge to fix the issue right away.