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.

various types of car sensors

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.

Voltage sensor:

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 sensor:

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.

NOx sensor:

Speed sensor:

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.]

Oxygen sensor:

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.

Parking sensor:

Temperature sensor:

Camshaft position sensor

Throttle position sensor:

Various types of sensors and their functions in tabular form:

STTSensorMain Function
1The Mass Air Flow SensorCalculates the density and the volume of the air taken in by the engine
2The Engine Speed SensorMonitors the spinning speed of the crankshaft
3Oxygen SensorMeasures the amount of unburden oxygen presented in the exhaust pipe
4Manifold Absolute Pressure SensorMeasures the manifold pressure inside and outside
5Spark Knock SensorEnsures that the fuel is burned correctly
6Fuel Temperature SensorEnsures the right amount of fuel is injected to keep the motion smoothly
7Voltage SensorManages the car speed and ensures the speed is controllable
8Parking sensorAny obstruction in front or behind the car is recognised by it.
9Temperature sensorIt keeps track of engine temperature.
10Camshaft position sensorIt keeps a check on the camshaft’s location and timing.
11Throttle position sensorKeep an eye on the throttle valve’s position.
12Rain sensorWhen rain is detected, it notifies the ECU to turn on the wipers.
13NOx sensorIt calculates the nitrogen oxides (NOx) in the gases from the exhaust.
14Speed sensorIt measures how quickly the wheels are moving.


Working Principle

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:

Read: Symptoms of a Bad or Failing EGR Temperature Sensor


Despite the advantages of the sensor, one big limitation still happens. Below are the disadvantages of sensors in automobiles:


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!

4 Responses

  1. Very informative post! I had no idea there were so many different types of sensors in a car. It’s good to know the functions and diagrams of each sensor to be able to identify any potential problems. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Great post! I found it very informative and easy to understand. I particularly liked the diagram that accompanied the explanation of the different types of sensors. It really helped me visualize how they work and their functions. I’m definitely bookmarking this page for future reference. Thanks for sharing!

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