What Happens When a Speed Sensor Goes Bad?

Written by zachariah c. miller
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What Happens When a Speed Sensor Goes Bad?
Problems with a vehicle's speed sensor, or VSS, will result in many vehicle issues. (luxury car - model toy car image by alma_sacra from Fotolia.com)

There are certain symptoms that will indicate a failing VSS sensor. These issues will cause major problems with the driveability of your vehicle, as the vehicle speed sensor is used by many of your vehicle's electronic and transmission systems to operate correctly.

Vehicle Uses of the VSS

Your vehicle's speed sensor is used by many vehicle components. ABS anti-lock brakes use the VSS, as well as the speedometer. The VSS is used by cruise control systems, as well as by automatic transmissions.

Symptoms of Failure

You can determine the failure of your VSS by the lighting up of specific check engine light codes on your instrument panel. However, if you don't have specific check engine code lights, some behaviours that will inform you of a failing VSS are a poorly shifting automatic transmission, a "broken" speedometer, erratic anti-lock brakes and or a "broken" cruise control system.


If you suspect that your VSS has failed or is failing, you'll want to take your vehicle to your mechanic as soon as you can. Try not to drive the vehicle until it is inspected by a trusted and qualified auto mechanic. Especially avoid driving the vehicle at high speeds until you've had it inspected and repaired, if required.

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