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Could Tiny Electrical Sensors Affect Your Vehicle Operation?

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As cars have become much "smarter," so the number of electronic parts on board has increased. These components need to be controlled by a central computer and will interact with this ECU through sensors. If you're having electrical problems with your vehicle right now, could a sensor be to blame and how will you know?

Increasingly Technical

Don't be surprised if there may be as many as 200 sensors dotted throughout your vehicle. Each of these will protect or regulate certain devices, and all are controlled through specialist software. These sensors are designed to work in difficult conditions and are meant to deal with huge temperature variation. They should be able to stand up well to vibration and to deal with oil, dirt or debris too.

Critical Sensors

Some sensors are more important than others as they control critical components that may prevent vehicle operation. You will certainly want to be on the lookout for signs of a problem that could be related to those sensors if you want to avoid an unfortunate roadside breakdown.

Performance Related

Most sensors, however, will cause issues with performance and you're far more likely to come across a related problem here.

Airflow Sensor

For example, one sensor is responsible for regulating the amount of air that is pumped into the engine during the compression phase. This is known as a "mass airflow" sensor, and if it malfunctions, the computer could pump too much or too little air. If this were to happen, you could face problems when you first start the engine, or it may cause the car to stall. You might have problems accelerating past slower vehicle as well if this sensor were to malfunction.

Pressure Sensor

On the other side of the engine is a separate sensor that monitors the pressure within the intake manifold. This is known as an "absolute pressure" sensor, and it will help the computer to adjust the timing of the ignition system if needed. If this sensor were to play up, you might notice that your vehicle is using far more petrol at the pump. In the worst-case scenario, you might hear a premature explosion within the combustion chamber, identified by a distinct "knocking" noise.

Fixing the Issues

Sometimes, sensor issues can be fixed by simply cleaning in or around the offending item. At other times, you may need to replace the sensor and make further adjustments to the system. In this case, you will need to employ the services of a skilled vehicle electrician.

For more information, reach out to a local auto electrical service.