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What are the symptoms of a bad camshaft position sensor?

Updated April 17, 2017

A camshaft position sensor is used on automobiles that do not have distributors. The camshaft position sensor tells the computer on the vehicle which cylinder is firing and times the firing of each cylinder to ensure the automobile engine operates efficiently. When the camshaft position sensor fails or is bad, the automobile develops symptoms such as not starting, misfiring or hesitating during acceleration.

Engine Does Not Start

The engine of the automobile will not start when the camshaft position sensor is bad or fails. The engine does turn over, but does not fire because of the bad camshaft position sensor. The automobile owner must determine that no other problem is causing the engine not to start such as an issue with the starter, solenoid, battery, terminals or spark plugs. The sensor wiring harness can also be loose or faulty, which shows the same symptoms as a bad camshaft position sensor. The position sensor is used for the timing of the automobile and when this timing is not controlled, the engine will not run smoothly.

Engine Hesitates

A bad camshaft position sensor will make the engine hesitate while idling or accelerating. As the accelerator is pressed, the engine will begin to accelerate, but hesitate or stall during this process. This hesitation is a symptom of a bad camshaft position sensor because the cylinders are not being fired in the proper order and the computer is not registering the correct information in order for the cylinders to fire properly. The vehicle owner must take the automobile in to a mechanic and have vehicle placed on a diagnostic computer to determine if the camshaft position sensor is bad when this symptom occurs.

Engine Misfires

The engine begins to misfire when the camshaft position sensor is bad. The automobile engine cylinders are blowing combustion through the exhaust, causing a loud sound to be heard and the automobile to act as though it is going to die. This misfiring happens because the cylinders are out of time owing to the bad camshaft position sensor. Each cylinder must fire in the correct order for the engine to run efficiently and smoothly.

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About the Author

Horacio Garcia has been writing since 1979, beginning his career as the spokesperson for Trinity Broadcast Network. Within 10 years Garcia was being called upon to write speeches and scripts for several state and federal congressmen, local broadcast networks and publications such as "Readers Digest." He received his bachelor's degree in public relations from Argosy University.