How Long Can You Drive a Car with a Bad Speed Sensor?

How Long Can You Drive a Car with a Bad Speed Sensor

While driving, one of the most important things that you need to monitor is your speed. This is because your speed is what gives your car rhythm and direction on the road, and if you get your speed all wrong, then you can pay the ultimate price for it.

You might think it is not a big deal to drive with a bad speed sensor simply because your car is still running and whatever doesn’t hinder the engine shouldn’t be that serious, it is generally very unsafe to drive while your speed sensor is bad.

How long then can you drive a car with a bad speed sensor? It will be misleading to say that there is a particular duration in which you can drive with a bad speed sensor, as driving with a bad speed sensor at all is dangerous if it doesn’t grind your car to a halt at first.

Can You Drive with a Bad Speed Sensor?

Yes, you can drive with a bad speed sensor, but you should not drive when you know that your speed sensor, which is also called a wheel speed sensor, an ABS sensor, or a transmission sensor.

Speed sensors are attached to the four wheels of a vehicle. This means that each wheel has a speed sensor attached to it to know the speed at which the wheel is going, and then transmit the information into electrical signals to the ABS systems of your vehicle.

When any of the sensors are bad, there is every possibility that you get the wrong signals as the information processed from that bad speed sensor will be wrong information.

This will cause a series of malfunctioning in your vehicle, and can also cause you to make inaccurate decisions while driving, and there is no telling how dangerous it can be, especially when you are on the highway.

So, although you can relatively drive with a bad speed sensor, you should not do that before changing the bad speed sensor or changing everything all at once.

How Long Can You Drive a Car with a Bad Speed Sensor?

Stating the duration in which you can drive with a bad speed sensor would be the same as stating how long you can put your life and vehicle at risk, and you know the answer to that already. It is never worth it.

The answer to how long you can drive with a bad speed sensor would be the same answer to how long you can drive while making wrong decisions based on the wrong information you are getting in your ABS, thanks to the bad speed sensor.

There are times that the faulty speed sensor will trigger certain smart digital functions in your vehicle to act up and make several functions also malfunction, such as the gears, and even in extreme cases, the brake pedals, and then the culmination of all these faults stops your car from working altogether.

However, this doesn’t happen in all cases, especially when you aren’t driving a much-digitized vehicle and there are no smart devices that can sense the fault in your speed sensors.

This is why, once you detect that your speed sensors are bad, you have to fix them as soon as possible. It is also advisable to fix the four-wheel speed sensors all at once since they are not expensive.

Cons of Driving with a Bad Speed Sensor

There are tons of disadvantages of driving a vehicle that has a bad speed sensor, which is why it is vastly discouraged. Here are several disadvantages of driving with a bad speed sensor:

1. Wrong Information Transmission

The information transmitted from the bad speed sensor would be certainly misleading, causing several parts that are mostly electrical not to function appropriately. This makes driving dangerous.

2. You Can’t Engage Cruise Control

If your vehicle’s powertrain control module (PCM) doesn’t receive the accurate information, the cruise control in your vehicle will be disabled automatically

This happens because the cruise control system needs accurate data from speed sensors to maintain and control the speed of your vehicle.

3. Wrong Readings in the Speedometer

With wrong and misleading information transmitted from the bad speed sensor, the vehicle speed sensor (VSS) will cause the speedometer to read inconsistently, or not at all.

Guess what happens when you are driving without an accurately functioning speedometer!

4. Malfunctioning Gears

This happens mostly in smart vehicles. When a smart vehicle senses that the information coming from a bad sensor is inaccurate and misleading, it causes some of the crucial parts that make the car move to stop working altogether as a way of protecting you.

One of the parts that begin to malfunction is the gear.

What Happens When Your Transmission Sensor Gets Out?

Your transmission sensor going out means that you will be getting misleading signals in the PCM. As a result, your gears will certainly start to malfunction since the PCM isn’t getting the right information to know when to operate the gears.

Let’s explain a little further. The PCM is responsible for receiving information from the transmission sensor to change and shift gears into respective positions needed by the driver, such as from parking to moving, reversing, etc.

If the transmission sensor is out and isn’t performing its duties, the PCM will also become useless in the shift and operation of gears.

Can a Bad Speed Sensor Damage Your Transmission?

Absolutely. A bad speed sensor, wheel speed sensor, ABS sensor, or transmission sensor – they all mean the same thing – will have a straight influence on the transmission of your vehicle.

The transmission is responsible for shifting and changing gears in an automatic vehicle, and it receives its information from the speed sensors.

If a speed sensor is bad, it will receive wrong information that will cause delays in shifting gears, or that will cause the information to escape completely from the transmission which will then fail to register it in the automatic gears.

As a result, a bad speed sensor can damage your vehicle’s transmission.


When you detect that your speed sensor is bad, you need to fix it as soon as possible, and it is always advisable to change all four-speed sensors at once since it doesn’t cost so much.

If you drive with a bad speed sensor, you will be putting yourself at risk, and risks like this are not worth taking, as you can pay the ultimate price.

Some of the major symptoms of a bad speed sensor are transmission problems, a ‘Check Engine light comes on, disabled cruise control, and generally bad vehicle maintenance.