You are cruising down the highway, and the check engine light suddenly flushes on your face, but that’s just the beginning! You start experiencing a significant reduction in engine performance, excess vibration, and sudden stalling. The problem is likely the crank position sensor.
A permanent solution is replacing the crank position sensor, but where do you get it when you are far from the nearest auto parts shop? Desperate situations call for desperate measures! Consider temporary fixes such as resetting or cleaning the sensor, inspecting the wiring, and checking for sensor alignment.
You are in the right place if you are looking for a temporary fix for a crank position sensor. We will discuss possible quick fixes and how to prevent future issues in this article, but first, let’s briefly talk about the sensor and its role.
What is a Crankshaft Sensor, and What Does it Do?
A crankshaft position sensor is an electronic device attached to the engine block. It uses the magnetic or Hall Effect to monitor the position and rotational speed of the crankshaft and pass the information to the engine control unit (ECU).
The ECU relies on the crank position sensor to accurately adjust the timing of fuel injection and ignition. It is the one vital sensor responsible for the smooth and efficient running of the engine.
A faulty crank position sensor sends erratic data to the ECU. This results in a reduction in engine performance and stalling in a more severe case.
Other signs of a faulty crankshaft position sensor include the following:
- Illuminated check engine light
- Engine misfiring
- Sudden engine stalling or hard starts
- Excessive engine vibration or shuddering
- Reduce fuel economy
- Significant reduction in engine performance
- Drivability Issues
- Rough Idling
Temporary Fix for A Crankshaft Position Sensor
A faulty crankshaft position sensor will, through a P0335 diagnostic trouble code. You can read this using an OBD2 scanner to be sure it is the cause of the problem. Sometimes its symptoms overlap with others, making it challenging to pinpoint the culprit.
But what if the crankshaft position sensor is the cause of your problems? Fortunately, you can temporarily fix it long enough to drive to the nearest auto repair shop. These are quick fixes, and you should replace the sensor whenever possible.
Inspect and Clean the Sensor
The crankshaft position sensor is hooked on the engine block close to the crankshaft. This explains why it may become dirty over time and interfere with its functionality.
If the sensor is dirty, disconnect its electrical connector and wipe it clean. Use a suitable electrical contact and a soft cloth to remove all contaminants or debris from the sensor.
Reset the Crankshaft Position Sensor
Sometimes the crankshaft position sensor malfunction is due to a temporary glitch. This can be quickly fixed by disconnecting the battery and waiting about 5-10 minutes before reconnecting it.
The problem may or may not be fixed. Regardless, contact an expert after that to test the sensor to ensure it does not have any permanent faults. If it does, replace it.
Check for Sensor Misalignment
The crankshaft position sensor should be aligned at all times to accurately measure the position and rotational speed of the crankshaft. But the vibrations can cause misalignment over time, resulting in inaccurate data sent to the ECU.
Refer to your vehicle’s user manual to properly adjust the sensor’s position to achieve the factory alignment. You can get this information online if you don’t have the reference manual.
Inspect and Fix Any Wiring or Connection Problems
Like all other electrical devices, the crankshaft position sensor communicates through electrical connections. It sends data to ECU through wires. An open circuit or any wiring fault is likely to compromise its operations.
Check the wiring from the sensor to ECU for any open or short circuits and correct them accordingly. This can be a temporary or permanent fix, depending on the level of wire damage.
Reset Fault Codes
A faulty crankshaft position sensor might trigger a check engine light and a fault code. Resetting this code can temporarily fix the problem though not recommended if the underlying problem is not diagnosed and solved.
You can quickly do this using an OBD2 scanner or manually disconnecting the battery terminals and the sensor and then reconnecting.
How to Avoid Future Issues with Crankshaft Position Sensor
The sensor problem will reappear if the underlying problem is not solved. You will be forced to replace the faulty crankshaft position sensor as the solution. But how do you ensure you don’t find yourself in the same situation any time soon?
Consider doing the following:
- Adhere to regular maintenance schedule as recommended by the car manufacturer
- Always check and ensure the crankshaft position sensor is clean
- Avoid driving in harsh conditions with extreme temperatures, excess moisture, or corrosive chemicals.
- Always use high-quality OEM or aftermarket parts from a reputable manufacturer
Can you drive a car without a crankshaft sensor?
No. Modern cars use ECU to trigger fuel injection and ignition. Without the crankshaft position sensor, the engine won’t even start. However, some old cars are without such sensors and can be safely driven.
Will driving with a bad crankshaft position sensor damage the engine?
Yes. A faulty crankshaft position sensor can throw the engine off balance since its data is crucial for accurate timing. The engine may begin misfiring and vibrating violently, which could take a toll on it.
What is the difference between the crankshaft sensor and the camshaft sensor?
The two sensors have the same design and working principle but with one difference. As their names imply, the camshaft sensors measure the position of the camshaft. On the other hand, the crankshaft sensor measures the crankshaft’s position and RPM.
Can a broken crankshaft be repaired?
No. Broken crankshaft sensors are often replaced with new ones instead of repairing them. Once you confirm your sensor is faulty, start budgeting for a new one.
Any temporary fix for the crankshaft position sensor mentioned in this article is only to help you to get back on the road or to your destination.
The problem is bound to happen at any time, but before that, you should have taken your car to an auto repair shop for a proper diagnosis. Ensure the issue is identified and solved.
Replacing the crankshaft position sensor is often the permanent solution. Buy high-quality OEM or aftermarket parts and adhere to a strict maintenance schedule to avoid future issues. Also, avoid extreme conditions to lengthen the service life of the sensor.