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Things to Know About Car Sensors

by Dutch Silverstein February 1, 2019

No matter what make or model car you drive, your vehicle will have multiple sensors throughout performing different functions that help your car run. The sensors act as a computer brain that keeps your car functioning as it should. They are able to communicate inside your car and will ultimately let you know if there is an issue with your car.

A list of these sensors can be found in that very thick car manual which can normally be found in the glove compartment. We all know that it is there, but finding the exact information you need can be difficult. At times it can even be a little hard to interpret what the manual is trying to tell you. So below, you will find a list of common sensors that are used in cars and what their purpose is.

The Coolant Sensor

The coolant sensor is the sensor that keeps track of the engine temperature while the engine is on. The coolant sensor will take a reading from the engine thermostat or the coolant system itself. The sensor will then send the information gathered to the car’s computer. Depending on what the temperature is, the engine will adjust the necessary functions in order to keep the temperature down. One adjustment that your car might make is turning on the cooling fan if the temperature is running too hot. Another possibility is that the engine may signal for an opening of the exhaust gas circulation or for a richer fuel mixture to be dispensed.

The coolant sensor plays an important role because, without it, your car would overheat, which can cause major engine problems. Overheating is just one of the issues that a broken or malfunctioning coolant sensor can cause. Addressing the “check engine” light as soon as it comes on can aide in quick identification of a broken coolant sensor.

The Oxygen Sensor

Another sensor that plays an important role in the functioning of your car is the oxygen sensor. The oxygen sensor, also referred to as the O2 sensor, is responsible for measuring the amount of unburned oxygen that is leaving the exhaust pipe. By measuring the unused oxygen that is exiting the exhaust pipe, your vehicle will have a reading of what the fuel mixture is like.

The fuel mixture could come back as being too lean or being too rich. If the mixture of fuel is burning lean that means there is more oxygen mixed in with the fuel. If the fuel is burning rich, that means there is less oxygen in the fuel mixture. This is important because the engine needs the correct mixture of fuel and oxygen to be able to run smoothly.

Fuel Temperature Sensor

The fuel temperature sensor functions exactly how it sounds like it would. This sensor determines the temperature of the fuel. Keeping the fuel temperature monitored the entire time will allow for your car to consume the correct amount of fuel. When the temperature of the fuel is on the colder side, it will be consumed and ultimately burned slower.

When the fuel temperature is too hot, then the fuel will burn faster. The fuel temperature sensor also helps to determine how much fuel needs to be pumped through the engine to keep your car running smoothly. Having the fuel temperature sensor working properly ensures that your car remains efficient for as long as possible because without the proper amount of fuel, the engine will wear down a lot quicker.

Car Mechanic Checking Sensor Issues

Checking Those Sensors

Now that you are aware of a few different types of sensors that should be properly working in your car at all times, the next step is knowing what to do if they stop working. A&M Auto Service is conveniently located and accessible from the Pineville, Charlotte, and Greensboro, NC areas. Our technicians are skilled in many different makes and models, so you can rest assured knowing that your car is in good hands when you bring it in to have one or more of the sensors checked.

We know how important your car is to you. Because of that, we will always work to build a relationship with your and your vehicle to ensure that you are both safely back on the road with all the sensors functioning properly.

* BMW 5 Series Car image credit goes to: kurmyshov.

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