Some people think a modern-day car is more like a computer on wheels than anything else. Be that as it may, today's vehicles are a lot more reliable than they once were, even though those electrical systems are more complex. But what can happen if an engine sensor starts to fail, and could this sideline your vehicle? What should you do if you suspect a problem?
Certainly, the engine sensors will play a crucial role in smooth operation. Their job is to send critical data to the "brain" (or the powertrain control module), which will, in turn, make various decisions. So, if the sensors cannot perform as they should and send that accurate data, the module may make incorrect decisions. This can negatively affect performance and drivability, together with toxic emissions.
Thankfully, this car will also be equipped with an onboard diagnostic system that can immediately tell if a sensor is playing up. Your first warning will be that ubiquitous "check engine" light, which doesn't tell you too much in itself but will send a more detailed message to the diagnostic port. A trained mechanic can then connect to this port and download information.
Oxygen Level Sensor
One of the most important engine sensors monitors the level of oxygen that is injected during the combustion phase. It measures how much unburnt oxygen is emitted through the exhaust system. The module can then adjust the ratio of air to fuel at the inlet stages necessary to rebalance everything. Clearly, if this sensor fails, performance will suffer, and you can expect to pay more at the pump.
Throttle Position Sensor
The throttle position sensor is another important part that helps with this crucial mixture. As the demand for the engine changes, more fuel may be needed, which may also require an adjustment to the timing of the spark. The module will adjust the throttle's position based on the sensor information. This will ensure that you have optimal power when you need to overtake a slower vehicle.
Another critical sensor controls the coolant, or more precisely, its temperature. An incorrect reading might cause the central module to turn on a cooling fan when it is not needed. Once again, this could cause performance issues, a higher level of fuel consumption and unwanted emissions.
Time for a Tune
These are just a few of the critical sensors that are dotted in or around the engine bay. If you suspect performance problems with your vehicle, you may need to visit an auto electrics service provider to help you out.