How Can You Tell If Your Car Has a Faulty Engine Speed Sensor?

Vehicle speed sensors are part and parcel of modern car technology these days. Every car and motorised vehicle will have one, though some will be more refined than others. Generally speaking the more expensive the car, the more refined the speed sensor. However, this extra refinement can come at a cost. Speed sensors have a habit of going wrong, and when they do they can cause all sorts of problems.

So what does a vehicle's sensor do?
A vehicle's engine sensor or vehicle sensor as it is better known, sends information to a car's computer and tells it how fast the car's engine is spinning at any given moment. The speed sensor does this by recording how fast the crankshaft of a vehicle is spinning. Unfortunately speed sensors are not infallible and do go wrong from time to time.


What sort of problems can faulty engine sensors cause?
A faulty vehicle speed sensor can cause a number of problems. The problem often is that these faults or symptoms can be very difficult to diagnose. Sensor faults can appear similar in many ways to other vehicle faults like a defective coil pack or a bad throttle position sensor. In fact the symptoms can often be identical. That's why it's probably always best to consult an expert. However, there are certain common symptoms that generally can be solely attributed or associated with a bad engine sensor:

    * Transmission revs higher before it changes gears
    * The car's transmission engages into overdrive late and sometimes will never go into that top gear
    * Brakes are sometimes harder than normal when coasting
    * Speedometer behaves erratically or sometimes does not work at all
    * The check engine light comes on intermittently and sporadically when accelerating
    * The overdrive on/off light blinks on and on for no apparent reason

How to test the robustness of a vehicle speed sensor
If a car is experiencing any of the above symptoms, it is always best if you take your car into a local garage and ask them to run computer diagnostic tests on the vehicle to see if the speed sensor is functioning correctly. Common faults can often be incorrectly diagnosed as major problems when in fact they are just minor issues. Though some of the problems may seem to be transmission-related, it is generally better to take the vehicle to a garage that has complete computer diagnostic equipment before going to a specialty repair shop and carrying out unnecessary expensive repair work.

30 comments:

  1. You're absolutely right! A faulty engine speed sensor can be caused by a bad transmission. In most cases, it's found on automatics. This is why it's very important to have your car regularly checked.
    - Jae Gunderson

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  2. This is common on 2002 dodge intrepids it's best to use the speed sensors at a repair shop vs buying an after market one and just paying for labor for an install!

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  3. Can it cause an intermittent power steering fault? My car steering gets very heavy. Diagnostic machine only shows speed sensor fault

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  4. Possible for my '03 Envoy to stop moving altogether once the transmission/engine gets hot? Revs and sometimes cuts off when shifting between Drive and Rev as well. Trans shop is leaning to bad transmission. Help!

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  5. All of my antilock lights are on . Service engine light has been on for years. My speedometer doesn't work and it won't shift out of first gear.. Any ideas ?









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  6. I have a 2001 cadillac deville and the gear shift moves but wont engage are register. Do you think this could be the speed sensor

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  8. Really helpful post on automotive engines. Thanks for the share.

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  11. Can cause loss of power and high rpms

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  12. Thank you all for this comment.. My 2001 MK4 V5 has a high rpms and was checked with VCDS. It came up with Engine speed sensor. It will rev high and atimes loss of power. Am changing it ASAP...

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  14. Thanks for the complete guidance. Initially, it is difficult for a car user to know whether there is any fault in the speed sensor or not. Definitely you can feel some symptoms while driving but making it confirmed is not so easy. I got an updated info from your article. Really thankful to you for posting it! Volkswagen specialist Wilmington NC.

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  18. A bad speed sensor most often affects the shifting of the automatic transmission. However, in cars with an onboard computer, the sensor also affects the ABS system, speedometer, cruise control and power steering. Proper diagnosis and repair is essential for safe operation of the car.

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