Camshaft Position Sensor Function, Bad Symptoms and Replacement Cost

Last Updated on May 11, 2023 by themechanic

In this article, I will share complete information about the camshaft position sensor so that you will know the basic function, working principle, the bad symptoms and the replacement cost of this sensor.

Basic Function and Working Principle

The camshaft is an essential device for the internal combustion engine of any vehicle. It controls the intake valves and exhaust valves of the engine. The intake valves regulate how much fuel can enter the machine’s combustion chamber. The exhaust valves regulate the number of exhaust fumes that can leave the exhaust system. The camshaft is connected to the crankshaft thanks to a chain link and timing belt. This whole setup allows the camshaft to function.

The camshaft rotates into a particular position to control the intake and exhaust valves. The camshaft position sensor monitors this rotation. As the sensor detects the position of the camshaft, it transmits this information to the vehicle’s engine control unit. The engine control unit, of course, is the central computer of most modern cars. It communicates with all the sensors and computer systems of a vehicle. Based on the information it receives, it modifies certain car functions.

In the case of the camshaft position sensor, the engine control unit will make the fuel injectors put a certain amount of fuel into the chamber based on the information it receives about the camshaft’s position. The spark plug aiming to create an ignition is also detected here. This process must always run smoothly for the sake of the engine and its performance.

5 Bad Symptoms of Camshaft Position Sensor

As you can see, the camshaft position sensor has an essential job in the vehicle. If the sensor were to malfunction, it could spell trouble for the entire functionality of the car. After all, if the engine does not receive the proper amount of fuel in its combustion chamber, there will be an inadequate amount of power generated. Then you won’t be able to drive anywhere because your car will lose acceleration power or stall altogether.

If there is a bad camshaft position sensor next to your engine, there are specific symptoms that you can look out for to detect this problem. The sooner you get the sensor replaced, the less chance you have of breaking down on the road.

Below are the top 5 symptoms of a camshaft position sensor.

1) Check Engine Light – The first symptom you will probably notice is the “Check Engine” warning light turning on. This will activate whenever the engine control unit detects an abnormality in the engine. There could be a wide range of engine issues that will cause this warning light to illuminate. A faulty camshaft position sensor is one issue since it is responsible for relaying the camshaft position information to the engine control unit. If this information is inaccurate, the computer will make the fuel injectors put the wrong amount of fuel into the combustion chamber. This will result in the computer warning you about this by activating the light on the dashboard.

2) Cannot Start Engine – With some cars, a bad camshaft position sensor will prevent its spark plugs from creating a spark that ignites the fuel and air mixture in the chamber. If this happens, you won’t even be able to start your engine after you turn the key in the ignition.

3) Poor Engine Performance – As previously stated, an imbalance of air and fuel in the internal combustion chamber will be reflected in the engine’s performance. As you step on the accelerator, you won’t go as fast as you usually would. If you can still travel at an acceptable speed, have your vehicle checked immediately. Otherwise, pull over to the side of the road and have it towed to the mechanic.

4) Hard to Shift – Automatic transmission vehicles might have trouble changing gears if they have a bad camshaft sensor. The gears tend to get locked as the problem gets worse. A locked gear means you won’t be able to shift the gear. It will take a lot of effort on your behalf if you can. The best thing to do is turn off the engine and back on again after a couple of seconds. Whether this works or not, you should still take your vehicle to the mechanic immediately and check this problem.

5) Bad Fuel Economy – Sometimes, a bad camshaft position sensor will indirectly result in the fuel injectors putting too much fuel into the combustion chamber. This means you will be consuming more gasoline than usual. The result is more trips to the gas station to fill your fuel tank with gas. There will also be more carbon emissions produced too.

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Replacement Cost of Camshaft Position Sensor

As crucial as the camshaft position sensor is to your vehicle, it does not cost that much to replace it if there is a problem. The average replacement cost of a new camshaft position sensor is between $130 and $200. The labor should not take more than one hour, so you will be paying the mechanic’s hourly rate. In most cases, their one-hour labor will cost between $70 and $100. The cost of the component itself is anywhere from $60 to $100. The mechanic will likely include fees and taxes on top of these expenses. Therefore, be prepared to have a few hundred bucks on standby to cover this replacement cost. Be sure to shop around for the cheapest mechanic. Find out the price of their camshaft position sensors too.

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