Sensors for auto

Electric system auto parts: Sensors

How to detect vehicle sensors malfunction

Components diagnostics starts with inspection and assessment of their outside condition. Cracks on the body, dirt, rust, or carbon deposit indicate the need for replacement. Next, using a multimeter, check whether the sensor power supply circuit is not open, and after that, test the performance of the components themselves. To do that, connect the probes of the device to the relevant terminals of the checked device, and measure the resistance or voltage between them. The procedure and the allowed range of values are available from the technical documentation to the vehicle.

One can understand that the sensors require diagnostics from incorrect operation or complete failure of the systems controlled by them. For example:

  • In case of the coolant temperature sensor failure, warmed-up engine is hard to start, fuel consumption increases, and the fan may operate without stopping.
  • If the crankshaft sensor is faulty, noticeable detonation occurs in the engine under increased loads, engine power is considerably reduced, and rotation speed becomes unstable, especially at idle. Besides, the dynamic performance of the vehicle deteriorates.
  • Malfunctions of the camshaft sensor are manifested by frequent engine overheating and a sharp increase in fuel consumption.
  • Failure of the throttle position sensor leads to malfunction of the engine, the gearbox, and the ignition system.
  • If the lambda sensor is operating incorrectly, the vehicle starts moving jerkily, engine power reduces, and extraneous sounds - popping, in most cases - are heard from under the hood.
  • A broken engine oil level sensor indicates lack of lubricant regardless of its amount in the system.
  • The symptoms of a faulty exhaust pressure sensor are the absence of the accelerator pedal reaction to pressing, and even switching of the engine operation into the emergency mode.
  • A faulty knock sensor can be suspected by the increased fuel consumption, reduced engine power, changed color of the exhaust gas, or reduced acceleration rate of the car.

The reasons of vehicle sensors malfunction

Most of these devices operate in aggressive conditions. Depending on their location and function, they may be constantly exposed to chemicals, moisture, high pressure, and abrupt temperature changes. All these factors have a destructive effect on the housing of the sensor, and its elements: the water and mud that ingress inside cause oxidation of terminals, corrosion of metal parts, jamming of the valves and movable cores. Formation of oil deposit or accumulation of dirt on the tip of the sensor may reduce its sensitivity.

A common malfunction of vehicle sensors is broken electrical wiring usually caused by mechanical damage. For example, due to improper installation or incorrect laying of wires in the engine compartment, wires may be worn by abrasion. Loosened connectors affect stability of the electrical signal and may cause melting of insulation of wires, or a short circuit.

Repairing and replacing vehicle sensors

Sometimes, operability of the components can be restored by cleaning. For this purpose, use dry, soft cloth and special cleaning agents. However, in most cases, sensor replacement is required. Complexity of the work depends on the location of the component: in many cases, for gaining access to it, the expansion tank and air filter are to be removed, connecting pipes are to be disconnected and fluids are to be drained from various systems. Sometimes, unassisted replacement is not only labour-intensive, but also quite dangerous: for example, installation of a crankshaft sensor requires removing the engine mount in some vehicles. More information about replacing sensors is available in the instructional videos on the Internet, or in the technical documentation to the vehicle.

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