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How Does An Engine Speed Sensor Work? ______________________________________________ By Isla Betsy -

Engine speed sensors, which are not to be confused with a vehicle speed sensor, are sensors that are attached to the crankshaft of a car's engine. The purpose of an engine speed sensor is to assess the speed at which the crankshaft spins. These speed sensors are electronic control devices which are used in automotive internal combustion engines. This component sends crucial information to the engine control module (ECM). Crankshaft sensors are used to measure the speed of the crankshaft rotation. The information from a crankshaft speed sensor is used to control the engine management and ignition timing systems. These devices first appeared on engines when distributors were eliminated in the early 1990s. The crankshaft sensor serves the same purpose as the ignition pick up and trigger wheel, which is to adjust the spark timing of the spark plugs. The ignition coil is connected directly to the spark plugs. Click Here

How the Engine Sensor Works

The device is basically a metal disk that has a serrated (toothed) circumference. In addition, there's a stationary device containing a magnetic coil, which acts as a standard for the measurement. When the crankshaft spins, induction current is set up around the magnetic coil. The serrated edge of the crankshaft obstructs the produced magnetic field and this is recorded. This is what gives a measurement of the amount of current produced, which is outputted as the speed of the vehicle's engine.

Basic timing information is sent from the crankshaft sensor to the ECM. The engine RPM (revolutions per minute), timing and firing order are determined by the information which is received from the crankshaft timing sensor. The information tells the ECM how fast the engine is running so the ignition can be advanced or retarded accordingly.

Magnetic and Hall Effect Crankshaft Sensors The magnetic type of crankshaft speed sensor uses a magnet to generate an alternating current signal and sends this to the ecu. The magnet senses the notches in the crankshaft, and the sensation changes the magnetic field. The frequency of the pulses is calculated by the computer as rotations of the crankshaft. The Hall Effect type of crankshaft sensor uses blades, which are fixed on the crankshaft.

The blades disrupt the magnetic field in the Hall Effect window. This allows the sensor to switch on and off and alternate the current. This produces a signal which the ECM reads to determine the crankshaft speed and position.

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Speed sensor