Ever guessed what causes your automobiles to run so smoothly? Some would say it is the use of premium quality fuel; others would say they service the car regularly or have “paid well” for the speed. What would you say?
Is it the engine or the parts of it that make your motion in the driving/passenger seat so buttery? Turns out, a very important component of the engine, the crankshaft, is hugely responsible for it.
But due to a lot of different reasons, this crankshaft sensor can sometimes go bad. What causes the crankshaft sensor to go bad? In this article, you will find 8 notable reasons why your sensor could fail.
What Is A Crankshaft Sensor and What It Really Does?
On the lower end of your engine, you will find some pistons arranged on a shaft. The up and down movement of the pistons helps to transfer the energy from the shaft to the lower block and the rest of the engine, and ultimately to your car. This shaft in question is your crankshaft.
Then what is the sensor? When the energy transmission due to combustion happens, there is a sensor sitting in the car that monitors that (the movement of the pistons and thereby) the crankshaft is always running at a consistent, uniform speed.
When the motion for some reason is uneven, the crankshaft sensor is reported to read misfires or malfunctions. And it’s not the motion; the CKP sensor senses and analyzes the ignition, the injection timing, and a lot of other things that ensure a smooth operation of the engine.
One CKP sensor is not meant to be with your car for a lifetime. Other than the need to travel thousands of miles frequently, many other things could be taking a toll on its life. So let’s find out the other symptoms and causes of a crankshaft sensor going bad.
To read the patterns of movement by the shaft, the sensor reads data from different wheels and pins. Now, here is a chance to think, how is that possible? With the use of magnetic pulses generated from the toothed projections.
When the pins are running in harmony, and the data generated from their motion by the sensor is standard, no issue is shown. But when the sensor understands that the crankshaft has been compromised due to inaccurate data from the pins, the issue arises. So when these get damaged, they mess up the crank speed and eventually the crank sensor.
It is much easier to detect the wiring harness of the engine in a wrong position than trying to find the pins. Although you don’t need to find the pins and wheels to get a reading that the crankshaft sensor has gone bad, you can find the wiring harness issues to detect the same problem without much headache and technicality.
All you have to do is check for any loose wires, stored oil, or debris in between the wires or around them. Having any of these problems causes the voltage reading to be disrupted and also results in the CKP sensor going bad.
Every car issue seems to be related in one way or another to extreme heat. And since the crankshaft is a part of the engine, which, needless to say, gets the most heated, it is not uncommon that it will cause the CKP sensor to go bad.
In two ways, the heat abundance can ruin the crankshaft sensor. One, by an overheated engine which carries the heat to the sensor and destroys it. And two, by an overheated engine that has melted the plastic casing such that the sensor got damaged.
Depending on what kind of road your car is frequently driving in or how long it is on the road, the friction on the timing belt can differ.
When the friction is too much, this belt is subjected to wear and tear and hence be damaged. A damaged timing belt can hit the sensor in the process of friction and can eventually damage it.
Cause: Circuitry Issue
The last and one of the most common causes for crankshaft sensors going bad is issues with the circuitry. Just like you heard about loose wires seconds ago that could cause damage to the CKP sensor, faulty internal wiring damaged wiring and worn-out wiring that haven’t been changed for a long time can be a cause of CKP sensor damage.
If so happens, you will get different DTC codes from P0335 to P0389 reading about circuit malfunction, performance, high/low input, intermittence, and range, which can individually or combinedly mean that something is wrong with the sensor.
What Are The Symptoms Of A Bad Crankshaft Sensor?
Now, all crankshafts are not the same. They have different modes and formats depending on the car model you have at hand (or in the garage, really). But there are 4 common kinds of crankshafts, namely Optical, Inductive, Hall Effect, and Magnetoresistive.
Before you troubleshoot them, always remember to check the repair manual of your car for optimal results. Here are 3 common symptoms of a bad Crankshaft Sensor:
Symptom: Light Illumination
Don’t think you are part of any horror story when you see your engine dashboard lit up. If your CKP sensor goes bad, the computer can detect it and hence indicate the engine light.
Since there could be other reasons that cause the dashboard to be illuminated, this may not always indicate that your crankshaft sensor has failed. This is why it is important to have the engine scanned first.
Symptom: Vehicle Stalling
3 things can happen here: your engine does not start, it starts intermittently, or in an on/off manner, and your car stops midway and then, after much struggling, runs again. If these 3 have happened to you before or during a journey, your crankshaft can go bad.
Symptom: Checking for Codes
If you know how to use an OBD II scan tool, you can easily find the PCM showing you the necessary DTC codes in the tool. Codes ranging from P0016 to P0019 are indicative that the problem of the sensor is correlation-centric.
This means that the data read by both the sensors in the engine were not the same, either some got lost in the middle of some erroneous situation that had arisen to give birth to a correlation issue.
For example, if one sensor reads that a cylinder is in the Top-dead position, while the other says that it is in the Bottom-dead position, the incongruity between the two will result in a correlation issue related to CKP code.
Other corresponding codes may also be there for CKP sensor issues relevant to the timing, circuit, coil, etc.
In summary, what causes the crankshaft sensor to go bad? A lot of things. But don’t be mistaken by the fact that so many issues may mean that your CKP sensor is quite fragile and will need frequent replacements.
Not really. Unless it is for severe electrical reasons, such as a short circuit, your CKP sensor does not need that frequent changing. But as they are rather cheap, some people are quick to change them. Whatever you do, just keep in mind to thoroughly check for the problem, as the same symptom can mean other car issues than just CKP sensor issues.
With the right troubleshooting of the sensor, you can always save plenty of repairing costs and use that money on something much better. What do you think?