Blog Car Care Advice Is There a Temporary Fix for the Crankshaft Position Sensor?
Car Care Advice

Is There a Temporary Fix for the Crankshaft Position Sensor?

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If your crankshaft position sensor (CKP sensor) has completely failed, there’s no help for it — you need a replacement sensor. 

But what if the problems are intermittent? 
Is there a temporary fix for the crankshaft position sensor?

In this case, there are some things you can try, at least to help you get your car to a mechanic for a more permanent solution.  

Keep reading. 

This Article Contains

Temporary Fix for Crankshaft Position Sensor? 4 Things to Try

As mentioned, you’ll need a replacement if your crankshaft position sensor is completely busted. But you might get a bad crankshaft sensor — one that is failing — to work for a short bit. 

Here are some things to try, but please remember that these are only temporary fixes. Your CKP sensor is too important, and you must replace a faulty one.

1. Cool Down and Restart

It’s pretty common for a malfunctioning crankshaft position sensor to overheat. Your check engine light might turn on, or there’s a sudden power loss or engine misfire. Worse, your car may stall mid-driving.

Carefully pull over and turn off the vehicle’s engine. Let it cool down before attempting a restart or fix in this situation.

Assuming your car will start, please note that this is a very short-term solution before a more permanent CKP sensor fix.

2. Disconnect, Check, and Clean the Sensor 

If you can reach your crank sensor, disconnect it from the wiring harness and check for damage. Sensor malfunctions can result from a loose connector or contaminated sensor terminals.

You can use an electrical contact cleaner and brush to clean the sensor terminals. Once done, fit it firmly back in place and start the engine. 

3. Fuel Up 

A faulty crankshaft position sensor will deliver the wrong timing data to your Engine Control Unit (ECU) or Engine Control Module (ECM). So, your ECU won’t compute the right amount of fuel injection for combustion, and fuel efficiency will suffer. 

Topping up your fuel ensures there aren’t fuel level issues, in this case, until you get your crankshaft position sensor fixed and recalibrated.

4. Check Oil Levels

Low oil levels can cause your vehicle’s engine to overheat. Overheating does bad things to car systems. It can cause your CKP sensor to go haywire, damage the wiring harness, and cause many other unpleasant wallet-denting issues. 

Ensuring your motor oil levels are topped up prevents overheating. 
However, if overheating results in a permanent crankshaft position sensor problem, you should get it replaced. 

Crankshaft position sensors are meant to last pretty long — some up to the lifetime of your car. But there are always factors that can shorten its lifespan. Let’s see what causes a faulty sensor.

What Causes a Bad Crankshaft Position Sensor?

Here’s a quick rundown of the possible culprits behind a dead or failing crankshaft position sensor:

1. Damaged Wiring Harness

Sensor wiring can wear down over time from constant vibration and movement — especially if located near the exhaust manifold, where the intense heat makes them hard and brittle faster. 

Bear in mind that wiring can be damaged during installation, too. So pay attention if you’ve just had a CKP sensor replacement and the same symptoms appear. That’s why getting a professional mechanic to handle the job is advisable.

2. Faulty CKP Sensor Connector

A loose connector can cause a crankshaft position sensor issue. Your sensor terminals could also be contaminated by corrosion or oil. Corrosion can particularly happen in cars exposed to road salt. 

3. Contaminants on the Sensor Face

Sensor terminals aren’t the only things susceptible to contamination. Sludge or metal shavings can accumulate on the crankshaft sensor face, which then offsets its readings. 

4. Excessive Heat 

Exposure to extreme temperatures, like from an overheated engine, can precipitate a failing crankshaft position sensor, possibly even melting it.

5. Natural Wear and Tear

The crankshaft position sensor is susceptible to gradual desensitization, like any other sensor (e.g., mass air flow sensor or oxygen sensor). Over time, it becomes less accurate and wears out — the chances of it failing increase after 100,000 miles.

Just like there are several causes for a malfunctioning crankshaft position sensor, there are also multiple symptoms.

What Symptoms Accompany a Faulty Crank Sensor?

The crankshaft sensor sends timing data to your engine control unit. 

As such, sensor malfunctions are usually related to ignition timing or fuel injection issues:

These symptoms aren’t unique to a faulty CKP sensor, and the problem can be challenging to isolate if there isn’t apparent physical damage to the sensor. Getting a mechanic’s help with this critical part is highly advisable.

Have a few more questions on crankshaft position sensors?

3 FAQs on the Crankshaft Position Sensor

Here are the answers to some general crankshaft sensor questions:

1. What Does the Crankshaft Position Sensor Do?

The crankshaft position sensor tracks the crankshaft’s position and rotational speed, sending this data to the ECU. The ECU uses this information to compute the vehicle’s ignition timing and fuel injection pace so it’s in sync with wheel motion, keeping the car running at the required speed.

2. Can a Car Run Without a Crankshaft Position Sensor?

A modern vehicle with an engine control module and fuel injection won’t start without a functioning crankshaft position sensor, as it requires the crank angle data to initiate ignition. A faulty sensor may allow the car to start but would deliver incorrect timing, affecting fuel efficiency and engine performance — causing further damage. 

Older cars with a distributor and carburetor didn’t utilize the electronic crank sensor — the distributor controlled ignition timing.

3. Where is the Crankshaft Position Sensor Located? 

The crankshaft position sensor location varies based on vehicle make and model. However, as the sensor has to be near the crankshaft, it’s usually towards the bottom of the engine block, possibly mounted on the timing cover, near the crankshaft pulley or flywheel.

Note that the crankshaft position sensor location will influence how easy or difficult it will be to check or replace it.

Get a Crankshaft Sensor Fix with AutoNation Mobile Service

A faulty crankshaft position sensor often heralds imminent engine failure, so getting a permanent solution shouldn’t be delayed. As it’s such a vital component, always buy original parts when getting a replacement. 

While replacing the sensor itself may only involve removing one or two bolts, getting to the sensor can be tricky, with other components in the way. 

So why not let AutoNation Mobile Service lend a hand? 

We’re a mobile automotive repair and maintenance solution, available 7 days a week. Our expert mechanics will ensure your crankshaft position sensor is replaced correctly, right from your driveway. Contact us for reliable, hassle-free service.