Your car is equipped with a computer known as the powertrain control module (PCM). This component influences the performance of your engine, ensuring it operates at peak efficiency regardless of driving conditions. The PCM adjusts ignition timing, idle speed, and the amount of fuel allowed into the cylinders based on information it collects during operation.
In order to perform its job, the computer requires assistance. This is the purpose of sensors. Located in different areas throughout your vehicle, several sensors act as scouts. They collect and send data to the powertrain control module, which uses the information to make adjustments.
This article will describe the functions of seven sensors that contribute to your engine’s performance. We’ll explain what they do, and the effects of the data they send to the PCM.
In order for the computer to determine how much fuel is required in each of the cylinders, it needs to know how much unburned oxygen is present in the exhaust. This is the purpose of the oxygen sensor (OS). As exhaust gases produced from combustion rush past the OS, the part monitors the level of oxygen, and sends the information to the computer. Too little oxygen suggests a rich air-fuel mix, signaling that less fuel is needed. Too much implies a lean mix, indicating that more is needed.
Throttle Position Sensor
This instrument monitors the position of the throttle as well as the rate at which it opens and closes. It sends the corresponding details to the PCM, which adjusts the level of fuel in the engine. The amount of fuel is modified to accommodate load and the need for acceleration.
Manifold Absolute Pressure Sensor
The manifold absolute pressure (MAP) sensor is responsible for monitoring the level of pressure in the intake manifold. As the pressure changes, the MAP sensor takes note, and forwards the information to the powertrain control module. The PCM uses this data to keep tabs on the amount of engine vacuum present. A higher voltage signals low vacuum, which tells the PCM to increase the level of fuel in the engine. A lower voltage indicates high vacuum, which leads to the opposite effect.
This component monitors the temperature of the coolant that circulates throughout the cooling system. It sends the details to the PCM, alerting it to circumstances that warrant adjustments. When the coolant is hot, the computer might modify one or more settings, including the ignition timing, electric cooling fan, and idle speed.
Mass Airflow Sensor
This instrument measures the rate of airflow into the engine. This information is used by the computer to adjust the amount of air that enters the combustion chambers. The density of air alters due to temperatures changes. The PCM can generate heat, if needed, via a hot wire in the sensor.
Crankshaft Position Sensor
The crankshaft position sensor (CPS) monitors the position and rate at which the crankshaft rotates. The rotations of the crankshaft are influenced by the movements of the pistons inside the cylinders. Each piston is attached to a connecting rod, which in turn is attached to the crankshaft. As the pistons move up and down in their respective cylinders, the connecting rods cause this component to turn.
The powertrain control module uses data from the CPS to make adjustments to ignition timing as well as the timing of the fuel injectors.
This sensor is responsible for monitoring the cylinders, and detecting instances of spark knock (also called detonation). If knocking occurs, the information is transmitted to the PCM, which adjusts ignition timing to resolve the problem.
In addition to the seven sensors described above, there are others that help your car’s computer improve the performance of your engine. They measure manifold air temperature, barometric pressure, and vehicle speed. If any of these components fail, it is important to have them replaced quickly. Without them, the powertrain control module will be unable to correctly manage your engine’s operation.
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