The emergence of electronic components has made cars more sophisticated throughout time, and one of the most important electronic components is the sensor. An automobile contains several sensors that keep track of various characteristics of the vehicle and transmit data to the driver or ECU (Electronic Control Unit).
Advancement of technology has made life easy, even in automotive, as they now feature sensors that send information about the condition of the vehicle. The technology has involved artificial intelligence and mobile connectivity.
Modern vehicles are now so convenient that the internet is now accessible, relaxation while the vehicle is in self-driving mode, effective communication, etc. All these are part of the functional aspect of a sensor device. With the component, the engine has the ability and intelligence to know and make changes when necessary.
Today we’ll get to know the definition, functions, components, diagram, types, working principle, and symptoms of bad or failing sensors. In this post, we discuss the many types of automobile sensors and their purposes.
What is a car sensor?
A car sensor is an intelligent device that monitors the condition of a vehicle and sends information to the user to know when changes should be made. In some situations, it automatically makes changes to the engine. The device controls different aspects of a vehicle, which include temperature, coolant system, oil pressure, emission levels, etc.
Automobile sensors are so smart that they accept a range of values, examine them ideally, and determine the suitable condition. If the component that features the sensor is faulty, it sends warning information to the user.
The sensor is always set to notice changes in the vehicle parts. This means sensors are always working as far as the engine is running. The early design of the sensor works only on the engine, but it’s now advanced that it controls every part of the vehicle, starting from the temperature control inside the engine to the least electrical component of a car.
Functions of car sensors
With the above explanation am sure you can derive some functions of car sensors. Since they are different types, powering various applications and functional systems in a vehicle. The functions are so broad. Nevertheless, the primary functions of all terms called sensors in automobiles remain the same in their various application.
The information about the application they monitor to the computer (ECU) which works with algorithms. The algorithms already contain the various conditions that the device can experience, so when such occurs the computer could make changes to the correct situation. Whenever the computer cannot adjust, it sends warning information to the driver.
Diagram of automobile sensors:
Types of car sensors:
Below are the various types of sensors used in an automobile to take care of different aspects:
Mass airflow sensor:
The airflow types of sensors are used to determine the volume and density of air taken by the engine. These sensors are used inside the engine where combustion occurs, it performs its operation by calculation. The device ensures the right amount of fuel and air is taken for a mixture so the engine can meet its optimal driving conditions. if the sensor fails the car may consume more fuel and sometimes it may stall.
Engine speed sensor:
The sensor for the engine speed controls and monitors the spinning speed of the crankshaft. this is to say the sensor is mounted to the crankshaft. if you understand the working of an engine you’ll know how the working converts the reciprocating motion of the engine into the rotary motion of the crankshaft. you can read that at the end of this article.
the functions of voltage sensors in automobile engines are to manage the idling speed of the vehicle. it ensures the speed is increased or decreased as required.
Manifold absolute pressure sensor (MAP sensor):
The MAP sensor types monitor the engine load by calculating the difference between the manifold pressure of the car and the outside pressure to ensure the engine takes fuel based on the changes in pressure. The failure of this sensor also causes high fuel consumption.
- Rain is detected by the sensor. Typically, it is found on the windscreen.
- When it notices raindrops on the windscreen, the sensor sends a signal to the ECU.
- If the car has an automated wiper function, the ECU then turns on the windscreen wipers.
- The rain sensor serves as a safety feature by turning on the windscreen wipers automatically.
Spark knock sensor:
The purpose of the spark knock sensor is to ensure fuel is burning smoothly and unexpected detonation occurs. Detonation is very dangerous to the engine as the piston rings will break, the head gasket will fail, and even damage the rod bearings. Fixing the problems can be quite expensive, which is why serious notes should be taken on the information sent by the sensor.
- The NOx sensor keeps track of the Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) that are present in the exhaust gases.
- The levels of nitrogen oxides that are legal for vehicles to release are governed by tight laws.
- Consequently, the NOx sensor is important for tracking the release of dangerous gases.
- The ECU will get the information from the sensor and adjust the air-fuel mixture to the desired NOx levels.
- It keeps track of the car’s wheels’ speed, as the name would imply.
- When turning a corner or off-roading, a car’s wheels might move at various speeds.
- As a result, the speed sensor assists in monitoring each wheel’s speed.
- The information is transmitted to the ECU, where safety functions like traction control and ABS (Anti-Lock Braking System) can make use of it.
- For 4×4 vehicles in particular, the speed sensor is essential.
Fuel temperature sensor:
At a constant rate, there is a sensor that monitors the fuel temperature to ensure fuel consumption is optimum. Cold fuel will take longer to burn because of its higher density, while warm fuel tends to burn faster. The sensor makes sure the fuel is injected at the right temperature and speed so that the engine can work smoothly.]
These types of sensors help determine the amount of oxygen in the exhaust pipe. It determines if the vehicle is burning rich or lean based on the sensor calculation. The failure of the device will cause more fuel consumption, idle, and even cause the car to jerk.
- It is a sensor that detects any obstructions in front or behind the car.
- The motorist is informed by the sensor with a beeping sound. The beeping gets louder as it gets closer.
- The driver can safely park the car with its assistance.
- The sensor’s data is used by the autonomous emergency braking system in high-end luxury vehicles. The vehicle will automatically apply the brakes if it approaches an object too closely.
- It is a sensor that can keep track of the engine’s temperature.
- For a car to function properly, thermal management is essential. Consequently, it is one of a car’s important sensors.
- The sensor is also in charge of the cooling system’s effective operation.
- The sensor can assist in alerting the diver if the radiator is malfunctioning or the engine’s cooling is running low.
Camshaft position sensor
- An engine’s intake and exit valves are managed by a camshaft.
- The timing of the camshaft is monitored by the camshaft position sensor to ensure that air enters the cylinder and burned gases exit the cylinder at the proper times.
- Incorrect timing reduces power output and could harm the cylinder in the worst scenario.
Throttle position sensor:
- When you press the accelerator pedal, it gauges the position of the throttle valve.
- The ECU determines how much of the air-fuel mixture should be delivered to the cylinder after receiving the information from the sensor.
- The power distribution has been impeded by a malfunctioning throttle position sensor.
Various types of sensors and their functions in tabular form:
|The Mass Air Flow Sensor
|Calculates the density and the volume of the air taken in by the engine
|The Engine Speed Sensor
|Monitors the spinning speed of the crankshaft
|Measures the amount of unburden oxygen presented in the exhaust pipe
|Manifold Absolute Pressure Sensor
|Measures the manifold pressure inside and outside
|Spark Knock Sensor
|Ensures that the fuel is burned correctly
|Fuel Temperature Sensor
|Ensures the right amount of fuel is injected to keep the motion smoothly
|Manages the car speed and ensures the speed is controllable
|Any obstruction in front or behind the car is recognised by it.
|It keeps track of engine temperature.
|Camshaft position sensor
|It keeps a check on the camshaft’s location and timing.
|Throttle position sensor
|Keep an eye on the throttle valve’s position.
|When rain is detected, it notifies the ECU to turn on the wipers.
|It calculates the nitrogen oxides (NOx) in the gases from the exhaust.
|It measures how quickly the wheels are moving.
- Understanding ABS sensor
- How To Bypass an O2 Sensor
- Understanding Airbag Sensors
- How to Reset a Throttle Position Sensor
- Symptoms of a Bad Fuel Tank Pressure Sensor
The working of car sensors is quite simple, interesting, and easy to understand. For a simple understanding of these sensors, let’s think about the human sense organ which includes the nose, eye, mouth, hand, and ear. All these human parts receive information from life phenomena and send it to the brain, which makes a decision. The same thing happens to automobile sensors, they sense what is happening to the vehicle and send the information to the computer which then makes things right.
The working of sensors is accomplished by the process called multiplexing, it’s consolidated wires in a microprocessor that ensures the operation never goes out of control. giving an example of a sensor powering an engine cooling system, since the cooling system is broad it could contain one or more sensors. So, immediately after the engine starts running, the sensors monitor every aspect of the cooling system, starting from the radiator to the overflow tank. So, whenever any cooling system component goes wrong, information is sent to the driver. The sensor will notice low coolant in the system.
Early applications of sensors in an automobile are quite intense as they send information to an analog processor. The processor makes a decision based on simple algorithms to manage the condition of the system. The analog system could only handle predefined values, so any value aside from ones programmed. If an unknown error occurs, the system will end up failing.
Watch the video to learn more about sensors working:
Advantages and disadvantages of car sensors
Below are the benefits of sensors in automobiles:
- Sensors have made life easy for drivers.
- Faulty components are easily detected
- Automatic control is common with vehicles that feature sensors.
- The engine is properly maintained with the devices.
- Every adjustment is done precisely with sensors.
- The driver receives warning information on bad components.
Despite the advantages of the sensor, one big limitation still happens. Below are the disadvantages of sensors in automobiles:
- Almost all modern cars use a variety of different sensors to collect the right information. The disadvantages of using many different sensors are that they can fail over time which may lead to costly replacements.
In conclusion, we have given the definition and functions of sensors in automobiles, one of which is to monitor and send information about the engine components. we also saw the various types of sensors and their functions in tabular form. The working, advantages, and disadvantages of sensors were also explained. I hope you enjoyed the reading, if so, kindly comment, share, and check some other interesting topics to gain more knowledge. Thanks!