What is the purpose of a camshaft position sensor?

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What is the purpose of a camshaft position sensor?
Camshaft position sensors help determine a car engine's speed. (luxury car - model toy car image by alma_sacra from Fotolia.com)

Cars rely on many mechanical and electronic devices. These devices include sensors that help dictate the car's speed and performance. One such device is the camshaft position sensor.

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The camshaft position sensor is a magnetic sensor designed to read information about the camshaft and engine. These sensors are typically positioned on the camshaft housing.


The function of the camshaft position sensor is to properly adjust and maintain the correct timing of a fuel-injected engine. Without this sensor, the engine would not run as efficiently, thereby decreasing its overall level of performance.


A magnet is positioned on the camshaft, which creates a magnetic field. When the camshaft spins, pins that rotate on the camshaft cause the magnetic field to oscillate. The camshaft sensor detects these fluctuations and sends signals to the ECU, or electronic control unit, which is the car's computer system. These signals transmit information regarding camshaft acceleration, deceleration and position. The ECU is then able to determine when to ignite the air- fuel mixture and deliver less or more fuel to make the proper speed adjustments.

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