Is Driving With a Bad Camshaft Sensor Safe?

Are you worried about what will happen if you drive your car with a faulty camshaft position sensor? This is one of the most neglected parts of the car, and most of the drivers never think of camshaft sensors until they break.

However, you can still drive your vehicle with a fault camshaft sensor, but your car will have reduced performance with time.

What’s a Camshaft Sensor?

Firstly, let’s know what a camshaft is. A crankshaft sensor refers to an electrical sensor device that monitors your car’s camshaft movement, and it feeds the collected information to your vehicle’s ECM. Cam sensor positioned near the engine’s camshaft.

What's a Camshaft Sensor

The Engine Control Unit uses the information from the crankshaft sensor to regulate the amount of fuel that enters the ignition timing, combustion chamber, and tailpipe emissions output.

Therefore, when driving with a bad crankshaft position sensor, false information will be sent to the engine, which will affect its operations.

Is Driving with a Bad Camshaft Sensor Safe?

As said earlier, one can still drive safely from one point to the other with a bad camshaft position sensor. However, with continuous driving, the engine’s performance will be affected, and as a result, there will be an increase in fuel consumption.

Is Driving with a Bad Camshaft Sensor Safe

However, if your car’s engine works properly with no acceleration problems, then it will be safe to drive your car.

If your vehicle engine misfires and the engine lights flash, then it won’t be safe to drive your car when it’s in such a condition. This can cause huge damage to your car’s engine, and it may incur you more money for repair.

If you want to prevent all these problems, you should find the issue and fix it or seek professional help.

Common Symptoms of Defective Camshaft Sensors

When there is an issue with the cam sensor, the car won’t fail immediately. You need to look out for signs to prevent further damages associated with driving with a bad camshaft sensor without your knowledge.

Common Symptoms of Defective Camshaft Sensors

This will notify you earlier that something is right with the crankshaft sensor. Thus, the issue will be sorted out before it’s too late. Some of the symptoms to check includes:

Engine Light Flash

Whenever your car’s camshaft position sensor has issues, a flashlight/light “Check Engine” will appear on your dashboard. However, the check engine light doesn’t necessarily mean that you have a bad crankshaft position sensor. There may still be other engine-related issues.

At this point, one can utilize an OBD2 scan tool in retrieving diagnostic trouble code(s) in your vehicle. Else, you can have a professional mechanic inspect your vehicle’s engine control module and find the issue.

Engine Stalling

This happens because fuel injectors won’t inject fuel when required by the engine cylinder. The fuel injection will be too late, too early, or even fail, resulting in a failed combustion reaction leading to stalls frequently.

Ignition Issues

A transmitted signal to your vehicle’s computer weakens as camshaft position sensors begin to have issues. A weak signal won’t allow the vehicle to ignite because of the absence of spark from the spark plugs.

Acceleration Issues

Whenever there is an issue with your car’s crankshaft position sensor, your car accelerates slowly. A similar issue that causes engine control module stalling is the same that makes your car accelerate poorly.

That is, fuel and air mixture won’t be injected at the appropriate time for combustion to happen and as a result, you will have decreased overall performance to your car’s engine.

Shifting Gear Issues

When your bad camshaft position sensor is not operating as required, it can lead to locking the transmission. However, this depends on the model, though it’s common to most cars.

The issue may force you to shut down your vehicle. After that, you turn on to shift single gear. This is very dangerous, particularly when driving in heavy traffic.

Bad Fuel Mileage

The crankshaft position sensor provides inaccurate data, resulting in less fuel being injected into the car’s engine than is required. As a result, you will have a poor fuel economy by using more fuel which is uneconomical.

Car Surging or Jerking

When driving your car & the camshaft ignition sensor begins to fail, the engine will lose more power which causes your vehicle to surge or jerk. All these results from an inappropriate amount of fuel injected into the cylinders caused by a bad camshaft position sensor.

Can One Replace a Camshaft Position Sensor by Him/Herself?

Yes, you can replace a camshaft position sensor, and this is among the basic car maintenance you can do and save the repair cost. Replacing a camshaft sensor takes about 5 minutes to 20 minutes, depending on your knowledge.

For those that have no experience, you can follow written guides and maybe videos from skilled mechanics.

The most difficult part is finding the camshaft position sensor that has failed in your engine. The location depends on the model, make, and your car’s year. You can always google and get the details you need when you have no idea.

Steps to Follow When Replacing Camshaft Sensor

Before you begin the process, buy a new camshaft ignition sensor from any authorized dealers.

  1. Firstly, you need to disconnect the negative cable of your car’s battery.
  2. Find the camshaft sensor of your car. In most engines, it is located at the back, top, or front. Additionally, it has 2 or 3 wires attached.
  3. After that, you need to release the tab at the sensor to detach the cables from the camshaft. Remember to mark the cable position as you will connect them back.
  4. Unscrew the mounting bolt that holds the sensor. It’s normally an 8mm/10mm bolt.
  5. Take out the camshaft sensor by twisting it a bit.
  6. Use engine oil to lubricate the O-ring of the new camshaft position sensor.
  7. Switch the destroyed camshaft sensor with the new one. Also, remember to reinstall the three cables properly.
  8. Fasten your own camshaft position sensor using a mounting bolt.
  9. Once that’s done, you can reconnect the negative battery cable.

Replacement Cost of a Camshaft Position Sensor

A professional mechanic can replace a camshaft position sensor and cost you around $95 – $200. Buying the camshaft position sensor can cost around $25 – $100, and labor costs around $70 – $100. However, the cost can be higher if you have a high-end vehicle.

What May Be the Possible Fault Source of a Camshaft Sensor?

There are numerous reasons associated with the failure of the camshaft position sensor. These include oil embedded in the engine, wear and tear, and water damage. Additionally, other sensors fail because of corrosion or an accident.

Instances like an oil leak caused by a bad head gasket or loose/defective oil cap alter the sensor’s signal from the cables.

How to Clean a Camshaft Sensor?

  1. Cleaning a camshaft position sensor is possible. Just follow the following steps.
  2. Detach the negative cable of the battery
  3. Find the camshaft position sensor
  4. Remove the three cables at the sensor. Mark their position as you will connect them back.
  5. Detach the camshaft position sensor & put it on a towel
  6. Spray it with a cleaning solvent to the sensor
  7. Wipe it dry using a clean towel
  8. Return the camshaft sensor
  9. Connect back the three wires to their appropriate position
  10. Reconnect the negative terminal of the battery

See alsoHow to Clean an Engine

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can a crankshaft sensor be the source of a transmission problem?

No, the crankshaft position sensor doesn’t affect transmission apart from when it fails & the engine stops running. At this point, the sensor may interfere with shifting and how the engine starts. When the crankshaft position sensor fails, the engine can also switch to failure mode.

2. Can throttle position sensor cause transmission issues?

Throttle Position Sensor (TPS) measures throttle position. A fuel pedal controls it and is utilized to determine the engine load. When it fails, it can result in auto transmission shifting issues. Additionally, the throttle position sensor can transmit bad input, which ends up stalling your engine power.

3. Can a faulty camshaft sensor be the cause of limp mode?

The most common issue due to a bad camshaft position sensor is a drop in engine performance. The engine can easily slip into Limp mode when you have a faulty camshaft position sensor.

4. How can one fix issues caused by faulty camshaft sensors?

A broken camshaft sensor is associated with numerous problems, as seen earlier. When you continue driving your vehicle with a faulty camshaft position sensor, you risk causing damage to other parts of your car. Similarly, you will also expose your life to danger as you drive.

Moreover, the best way of fixing the issues created by a faulty camshaft sensor is by replacing it. This allows other electrical components within your engine to operate properly and have no problem in the future.


“How safe is driving with a bad camshaft sensor?” you now understand if it’s safe to drive your car engine with a bad sensor or not. The best thing of all is replacing it as fast as possible.

Camshaft position sensor monitors shaft movements; hence, it will not cause damages to other components, which may incur you more in repairing and replacing them. The basic knowledge of how to replace a faulty camshaft position sensor will help you save a lot of cash. Solving these issues early will save your car and your life.