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12 sensors to give attention in your vehicle

Every sensor in the vehicle is important, and performs an important function; however, some may tip the scale more than others. The importance of sensors in any modern vehicle cannot be overemphasised as these often have a direct correlation with performance.

Highlighting sensors is important for two reasons; first, it is not unusual for some auto mechanics to declare certain sensors as unimportant and not deserving of replacement, worse at times, they even volunteer to yank them off the vehicle. Secondly, knowing why a sensor is important could aid decision in getting authentic replacements when due, and not just ‘anything that fits’. Remember, every sensor is optimised to work according to specifications of particular models it is intended, and while it may appear to work this does not equal optimum performance.

1. Coolant Temperature Sensor

From personal experience, at least three auto mechanics had volunteered to remove this sensor from my vehicle, claiming ‘It is only adapted for the cold weather of Western countries’. They especially make this suggestion when a vehicle is overheating, considering it as a way of getting the system to force more cooling than it would normally regulate.

However, the coolant temperature sensor also referred to as the engine coolant temperature sensor (ECTS), measures the temperature of the coolant or antifreeze in the cooling system, as defined by, where descriptions for other sensors have been culled.

This component works in tandem with the car’s electrical control unit, and it gives you a hint of how much heat is coming from the engine. The sensor’s information goes to the control unit, and if the temperature is not at optimum levels, the unit will initiate changes to correct the deviation.

Some of the changes include fuel injection rate, ignition timing, and switching on and off the electrical fan.

2. Intake Air Temperature (IAT) Sensor

The intake air temperature sensor is a crucial component of the car as it helps determine and monitor the temperature of the air entering the engine. The temperature monitored aids the engine computer unit to make the right measurements when balancing the air-fuel mixture.

Colder air is usually denser than hot air, and it will need more fuel to maintain a balance of the mixture for the efficient performance of the vehicle. The sensor is usually mounted on the intake manifold, with its tip exposed to help detect the temperature of air getting in. It sends this information to the engine computer to make the necessary changes in fuel injection to meet the air-fuel balance.

3. Mass Airflow Sensor

The sensor determines the mass flow rate of air entering the engine. It takes note of both pressure and temperature, two variables that the engine control unit focuses on for fuel injection.

There are two types of mass airflow sensors; the hot wire and the vane meter. Both of them have an intake air temperature sensor on their structure, mostly for cars manufactured after 1996.

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The mass airflow sensor works accurately when paired with an oxygen sensor.

4. Oxygen Sensors

The oxygen sensor is located in the emission system and keeps the emissions in check. The result is top-notch performance as well as the regulated emission of gases. It comes in handy in the present times when several lobby groups are pushing for reduced pollution from automobiles.

These sensors started being common in auto-engineering after the 1980s. Most cars have at least one oxygen detecting device, with the new models having up to four for efficiency.

5. Crankshaft Sensors

This sensor monitors the position and the crankshaft’s rotating speed, an important part of the vehicle. The engine management unit uses the information from the sensor to control a variety of engine variables such as fuel injection and ignition timing. It works together with the camshaft sensor to improve the car’s overall efficiency.

6. Camshaft Sensor

As earlier introduced, the camshaft sensor, also known as the camshaft position sensor, works together with the crankshaft sensor to determine the exact position of the crankshaft. Electric signals from both sensors go to the engine management system and help control various variables to ensure a smooth ride.

In case of any deviation from the normal, when it comes to the position and rotation rate of the camshaft, the sensor will send signals to the central processor. Most of the time, the processor will relay the messages to the dashboard to notify you of the anomaly.

A problem of either the camshaft or crankshaft sensor may present itself through the emission of white smoke from the engine.

7. Fuel Temperature Sensors

The fuel temperature sensor detects the temperature of fuel just as its name hints. The main point of focus lies in the fuel density as hot fuel is less dense than cold fuel. The difference in density values affects the amount of fuel injected.

This sensor helps regulate fuel uptake, which subsequently controls emissions and consumption.

8. Throttle Position Sensor

Usually mounted on the throttle body is the throttle position sensor. It oversees how far the throttle blade opens, a phenomenon determined by how far you step on the accelerator pedal. The throttle’s position affects air intake into the engine’s manifold, and in a way, it acts similarly to a valve.

The sensor checks on the throttle’s position and the speed of its opening and closure. Like any sensor, it sends voltages to the engine’s computer system, which determines the fuel injection rate to balance the air to fuel ratio.

9. Tire Pressure Sensor

When the tire pressure decreases, it affects your vehicle’s performance, and in extreme conditions, it may lead to an accident. The tire pressure sensors positioned in the pocket created by the wheel and tire, measures the tire’s air pressure and circulates the values via low-frequency radio. The destination of the signals is either the ECU or the dashboard, where the readings are in pounds per square inch (psi).

10. Oil Level Sensor

Oil helps in lubrication, and you need to check its levels regularly. An ideal way to keep tabs on your vehicle’s oil limit comes courtesy of the oil level sensor.

The sensor applies the properties of magnetism, where a magnetized sealant moves up and down the tube of the oil chamber. A magnetic operation reed turns off a switch when there is a change in oil levels. Consequently, the switch will complete a circuit leading to notification of the fault on your dashboard.

11. Airbag Sensors

Airbags are important car parts when it comes to upholding safety. During impact, they deploy and cushion passengers, preventing injuries. The airbag sensor is a key element in airbag technology and plays a role as an accelerometer, where they detect the car’s deceleration. It collects this information and sends it to the airbag control unit, which will activate the airbag in case of an impact.

12. ABS Sensors

The ABS sensor is also known as the wheel speed sensor, and it records the wheels’ speed and sends the info to the ECU. The wheels may vary in speed, and the sensor takes note of any difference from the normal.

The sensor resembles a toothed ring with a coil-over, a magnet to capture and transmit it to the engine control unit. The message sent to the control unit helps prevent the brakes from locking on the wheels during motion.

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