Is It Safe to Drive With a Bad Camshaft Sensor?

Is It Safe to Drive With a Bad Camshaft Sensor

Many drivers do not imagine that camshaft position sensors can be the cause of a breakdown of the car’s engine or a decrease in performance. It is actually of great importance to the engine.

It sends information about the position of the camshaft to the ECM for fuel combustion to occur which makes the engine function well. Driving with a bad camshaft sensor can be risky at times.

So, is it safe to drive with a bad camshaft sensor?

Yes! While it is safe to drive with a bad camshaft sensor, other components of the engine will be affected which will eventually lead to high fuel consumption.

However, a bad camshaft sensor can cause:

  • Acceleration problems
  • Ignition problems
  • Lack of power
  • Misfiring of the engine
  • Engine stalling
  • Notification Light
  • Jerks and Surges of the engine
  • Rough idle
  • Poor gas mileage

What is a Camshaft Sensor?

An electronic device that monitors the motion of the camshaft of a car (as the name suggests) and transmits the data to the ECM (Engine Control Module) of the car.

You might be wondering what kind of information is being passed on and why. Think no further, the information transmitted by the camshaft sensor of a car is sent to the engine control module so it can control the regulation of fuel that gets into the combustion chambers, timing of the ignition, and the emissions released by the tailpipes.

The aim is for the mixtures of air and fire to be ignited by spark plugs simultaneously so that more power can be produced and less gas will be consumed.

Importance of a Camshaft Sensor

A few importance of camshaft sensors will be discussed here. More will be stated in subsequent paragraphs.

  • Sends information to the ECM: This camshaft position sensor is very important for the overall functioning of the engine. Information about the camshaft is sent to the Engine Control Module so proper combustion of fuel can occur.
  • Determines the position of the camshaft as it relates to the crankshaft: For effective working of the engine, the position of the camshaft as it relates to the crankshaft is needed. This helps other parts of the engine work simultaneously. The position of the camshaft is determined by the camshaft sensor.

Is It Safe to Drive with a Bad Camshaft Sensor?

Driving with a bad camshaft sensor is not unsafe. The effect of driving with a bad camshaft sensor is that the performance of your engine will not be high and the fuel consumption will be high.

If you think the camshaft sensor of your car has gone bad, there are a few ways you can test to find out what is wrong.

Go through the manual of your vehicle or consult your vehicle mechanic to find out where the engine needs a look at. Mechanics have the right tools and equipment to properly diagnose and fix camshaft sensor issues.

It is not impossible that the complete camshaft might need to be replaced altogether. Leaving a camshaft sensor unrepaired will compound problems and cause issues in the vehicle’s engine, which could be very expensive.

As stated earlier, the camshaft sensor of your car is bad does not mean that you cannot drive the car. Driving the car with a bad camshaft sensor is possible however the overall performance of the car will be inhibited.

You should be on the watch for some signs of a potential bad camshaft sensor in your car. You do not want to find out when it is too late.

1. Acceleration Problems

When a camshaft sensor is bad, what it is supposed to do will not be done. The mixture of air and fuel will not be injected simultaneously this affects the combustion process.

If the timing is not correctly and accurately triggered by the camshaft sensor, what happens is that the engine will work twice as hard in order to move very well.

2. Ignition Problems

The ignition process is triggered by the camshaft sensor. You must be wondering how. This is it. As the camshaft position sensor works in its normal operation, signals are transmitted from it to the computer of your car.

If the camshaft position sensor is not working well, the signals transmitted to the computer of your car will not be accurate. Now, a weak signal or a completely dead signal cannot jolt the ignition process. This is because the computer of your car is not receiving the correct signals of the functionality of the camshaft.

3. Lack of Power

A bad camshaft sensor cannot regulate the timing of the ignition properly. This will lead to a loss of power in the engine. You do not want more damage to be done to the engine of your car so as soon as you notice this, you need the camshaft sensor to be tested immediately.

The monitoring of motion in the camshaft of your car is done by the camshaft position sensor. If the sensor is not working well, the ECM will not work well as well.

4. Misfiring of the Engine

While driving, you might observe that your car has been missing the upper end of the RPM range. It is a symptom of bad camshaft sensors. When the ignition timing and fuel delivery are unequal or uneven, your car can experience several problems including poor acceleration, sputtering, power loss, and a complete shut-down.

5. Stall of the Engine

A stall of your car’s engine is bound to occur when the camshaft position sensor stops working. Why does this happen?

Fuel injectors in your car’s engine are not injecting fuel into the cylinder at the proper time due to the bad camshaft position sensor.

The bad camshaft sensor does not send the information to the computer of your car to let it know that the camshaft is ready to do its job.

If injection of the fuel is performed too late or even too early, the combustion process will not occur and the engine will stall

More problems can arise from this. If the engine stalls when you are on the expressway, accidents could happen.

6. Notification Light

A very good sign of a bad camshaft sensor is the appearance of the engine light on the dashboard of your car. The only disadvantage with this is that the light could mean many other things and not just a problem with the camshaft position sensor.

An OBD2 scanner can be used to diagnose and find the problem with the engine. Mechanics have this scanner in their workshops so a drive there can have it all sorted. If you like to DIY, you can purchase the OBD2 scanner and perform the scan yourself.

The scan will not make the issue go away but it will pinpoint you to the faulty component of your engine.

7. Jerks and Surges

Due to the fact that the engine cannot function as it should when the camshaft position sensor is bad, your engine will experience sudden jerks along the drive.

Unforeseen surges in the engine will also occur. This happens because the ECM  does not receive the information it requires from the sensor. Ultimately, your engine suffers from inadequate fuel leading to a decrease in performance.

Sudden jerks and surges of your engine can lead to multiple accidents on the roads as well.

8. Rough Idle

A faulty camshaft position sensor that causes reduced fuel supply will also lead to “rough idle”.

9. Poor Gas Mileage

If you observe that there is an increase in consumption of gas in your car and no proportional decrease in power, it means that the camshaft sensor is faulty.

With all these problems, the best thing to do is to have the bad camshaft sensor replaced. However, it is better to know what to do after replacing the camshaft sensor.

What Happens if you Disconnect the Camshaft Sensor?

If the camshaft sensor of your car is disconnected, the computer of your car will be left with inaccurate information to carry out its functions. You can expect that the engine will misfire, rough idling, poor gas mileage, jerks and surges, and many more.

With one of the camshaft sensors disconnected, your car’s engine will still function. An error code will be provided however the engine might stop when both of the camshaft sensors are disconnected.

Can a Faulty Camshaft Sensor Affect the Transmission?

Yes, a faulty camshaft sensor will definitely affect the transmission of the engine. Your car will experience engine stalls, jerks and surges, and other unpredictable situations.


Having considered the importance and function of the camshaft position sensor, you are now aware that this device performs a huge role in the running of your car’s engine. If you notice the signs of a bad camshaft sensor, get it checked out and replaced as soon as possible. When replacing it, endeavor to identify the type of camshaft sensor it is before replacing it to avoid installing the wrong one in your car.