Car Engine

Symptoms of Failing Camshaft Position Sensor

Mike Cross
Updated Oct 18, 2020
Symptoms of Failing Camshaft Position Sensor

Every vehicle has a camshaft, and in newer modern vehicles there is a camshaft position sensor. This sensor plays a very important role in your car to ensure that it runs properly. In this article, we are going to explain what the camshaft position sensor is, what it does, and why it is so important. On top of that, we are going to talk about some possible symptoms of a failing camshaft position sensor. Read on to learn everything you need to know about your camshaft position sensor. If your car is running funny, then after reading this you might just figure out why, and that is because your camshaft position sensor might be going bad. Also, be sure to read on to learn what to do if your sensor is failing.

Symptoms of Failing Camshaft Position Sensor
Symptoms of Failing Camshaft Position Sensor

What is it

Before going into detail of possible signs of a failing camshaft position sensor, we are first going to talk about what it is. The camshaft position sensor is the sensor that tells the car’s computer what position the camshaft is in when you go to start the car. This is important because the camshaft is the part of the car that helps raise and lower the pistons. It also works with the crankshaft and the sensor tells the car where the camshaft is in relation to the crankshaft. The reason the car needs to know this is so it knows how much fuel to release in which cylinder and which spark plugs to fire. If the car does not know this information, then it will not run smoothly. Now we are going to get into common symptoms of a bad camshaft position sensor.



#1. Check Engine Light – The first most common sign of a failing camshaft position sensor is a check engine light coming on the dash. That is because the car’s computer is pretty smart in its own right of figuring out if something is not working right or not.

If you get a check engine light you should use an OBD2 code reader to find out why. If you don’t have one, then an auto shop will normally read the code for you. Once you have the code you have to figure out what it means.

If the code is for the camshaft position sensor, then you know that it is bad or going bad. If a check engine light comes on it is important to have the codes read as soon as possible. That is because damage can happen to the engine the longer you let the problem go on. You should use best obd2 scanner to find the code.

#2. Ignition Problems – If you don’t get a check engine light, then the next most common sign of a camshaft position sensor going bad is ignition problems. That is because the sensor is giving the computer the wrong information and it is releasing the gas into the wrong cylinders. Another possible issue is that the wrong spark plugs are sparking. If you have trouble starting your car and know that the battery is good, then you should check the position sensor to make sure it is working right.

#3. Car Jerking or Stalling – If the sensor starts to go out in the middle of driving, then you might not get a check engine light right away. That is because some computers only check certain parts when starting the car. A way you can know that it is going out while driving the car though is you will start to feel jerks or lurches. That is because the engine will lose power or the improper amount of fuel will be injected. This means that if you start noticing your car driving poorly, you might want to pull into somewhere to get it checked out.

On top of this though your car might not jerk but instead stall. This means that it will just stop running right where it is at. This is really bad because it can lead to wrecks or getting rear-ended. The reason why the car might stall is that the computer might not be being told to inject fuel into the cylinders at all. If your car stalls put on your hazards, and try to start it back up so you can move it off the road. If it won’t start up and the road is not busy put it in neutral and push it to the side. Once out of the way you will have to get your vehicle towed to a shop to get looked at.

#4. Poor Acceleration and Trouble Shifting – Another way to notice if the car is reading the wrong camshaft position is poor acceleration. You won’t be able to get up to speed very quickly because the wrong cylinders will be getting the fuel or spark. In some cases, the car might only be able to get up to a certain speed. That is because the engine is not putting out its full power. If your car won’t go the speed it normally can, then something is wrong and it is important to have it checked out. Another reason why your car might not be accelerating right is it might be locked into one gear. Some vehicles if the camshaft position sensor gets out of wack will not be able to change gears. This means you will be stuck in first or low gear and cars are not designed to drive quickly in this year.

#5. Bad Fuel Mileage – The last sign of something being wrong is bad fuel mileage. If your car manages to run relatively normal to you and you drive it a bit, then your fuel mileage will still be severely reduced. That is because a lot of extra fuel is going into the wrong cylinders. On top of all this when the cylinder with the extra fuel does spark, it will cause a large explosion in the cylinder causing major wear on the engine. Even if your car can drive with a bad camshaft position sensor you shouldn’t because it is not efficient and it causes major wear and tear on your engine.

What to do

So, now that you know the signs of a bad camshaft position sensor, what should you do? Well, the first thing is to take it to a shop and have the car looked at. Have the sensor checked and make sure it isn’t another sensor causing these issues. Air intake sensors and some others give similar symptoms. Once you know for sure that it is the camshaft position sensor the only thing you really can do is have it replaced. Luckily for you, this is not too expensive of a part, and it is normally easy to get to on most vehicles. That means the cost to you will not be a whole lot in the big picture compared to the damage that could occur. If you know about cars, it is an easy part to replace yourself and then you only have to pay for the part and not the labor.


So, now you know all you need to know about camshaft position sensors. You know what they do and why they are so important. You also know the symptoms of a bad camshaft position sensor. The next time you get any of these signs while driving you can have your sensor checked out and have it replaced if needed that way your engine won’t get damaged. It is important to stay on top of your car maintenance and the now you should be more aware of things to look out for while driving to know something is wrong. The basics are if your car isn’t driving or sounds how it normally does, then you should investigate to make sure nothing is wrong.

Mike Cross
Life is too short to drive with stock audio

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One comment on “Symptoms of Failing Camshaft Position Sensor”

  1. If your vehicle idles roughly, stalls frequently, has a drop in engine power, stumbles frequently, has reduced gas mileage, or accelerates slowly, these are all signs your camshaft position sensor could be failing. If you have any of these symptoms, it could mean the camshaft position sensor needs to be replaced by a professional mechanic as soon as possible. It needs to be completed before the engine cuts out and dies while you are driving, or does not start at all. Of course, these are symptoms for any number of other problems, too.

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