Can Sensors Be Cleaned or Do They Need to Be Replaced? | YourMechanic Advice

Can Sensors Be Cleaned or Do They Need to Be Replaced?

In most cases, sensors for your automobile will need to be replaced if they fail, but depending on the type of sensor and its location or function, some can be cleaned and reused.

Sensors can come in many types and are used for a variety of systems on modern cars. We have sensors that communicate engine parameters, like coolant temperature, engine RPM, Oxygen in the exhaust, throttle position, engine speed by crankshaft rotation, and engine load via a MAP (manifold absolute pressure) or amount of airflow entering the engine MAF (Mass AIr flow sensor). MAF sensors have three different types starting with the vane air flow, the hot wire MAF and a Karman-Vortex MAF. We have sensors that caution us for blind spots or help us to park.

There are a host of sensors for the transmission which feedback information on road speed, and the internal parts of the transmission allowing a TCM (transmission control module) to select the proper gear at the proper time. Wheel speed sensors are used for ABS (antilock brake systems) and TPMS (tire pressure monitor systems) to keep an eye on the actual tire pressure and a torque sensor for steering assist and center for systems that add vehicle stability or VSC along with yaw rate and lateral acceleration sensors. AC pressure sensors control the operation of the AC system and the cooling fans and protect the system when the refrigerant charge is either too low, or the system pressure gets too high.

All of these sensors have one thing in common: they communicate to their respective computer or ECU (electronic control module) using electrical inputs. Some sensors use a change in their resistance to affect this input while others use magnetism to produce a small AC electrical output. Still others, like the knock sensor, report using a piezoelectric, sensor which generates its output based on pressure.

Sensors that are magnetic can sometime collect small particles of metal and cause a false signal. These sensors are very sensitive to the air gap between them and the tone ring or toothed gear which triggers the electrical reaction.

In most cases, there is little to clean and reuse as when a sensor goes out of calibration from wear or mechanical damage, or fails due to heat damage, the only repair is to replace them. In the case of a rain sensing sensor or a solar sun load sensor for the AC or perhaps a sensor for blind spot or curb detection, it is possible for them to get dirt or snow in bad weather covering them which could be cleaned.

Since the computers that rely on these signals treat all inputs as valid, when a sensor is faulty, replacement is usually the best option. Have the respective sensor checked by a professional to determine whether it can be cleaned or needs to be replaced.


Next Step

Schedule Oil Change

The most popular service booked by readers of this article is Oil Change. YourMechanic’s technicians bring the dealership to you by performing this job at your home or office 7-days a week between 7AM-9PM. We currently cover over 2,000 cities and have 100k+ 5-star reviews... LEARN MORE

SEE PRICING & SCHEDULING

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Recent Oil Change reviews

Excellent Rating


YourMechanic Oil Change Service

Average Rating

4.9/5

Number of Reviews

20,442

Rating Summary
19,168
828
169
84
193
19,168
828
169
84
193

Jimmi

26 years of experience
90 reviews
Jimmi
26 years of experience
Chevrolet Venture - Oil Change - Orlando, Florida
Mr. Jimmi Phillips is a true professional. Finally, found a mechanic who is not only knowledgeable but who understands that his profession is not work but an avocation. Jimmi provides expert service that allows one to feel most confident in the work being provided. Quality, value, integrity, and service best describes Mr. Phillips.
Honda Accord - Oil Change - Orlando, Florida
Showed up a little ahead of time. Fixed my idling problem and gave advice if there were future problems with it. I'm happy.

Johnathon

8 years of experience
89 reviews
Johnathon
8 years of experience
Lexus ES350 - Oil Change - Fresno, California
We love Jonathan. He is knowledgeable, professional, trustworthy, and did a terrific job. Thank you.

Joe

14 years of experience
408 reviews
Joe
14 years of experience
Nissan Altima - Oil Change - Antioch, Tennessee
I have booked Joe several times at this point and I feel he is very knowledgeable and patient when explaining needed repairs to me. He communicates well and has a pleasant manner and disposition. I have never felt that he would suggest a service that was not needed, which has not always been the case when I used to take my car to a dealership for service.

Michael

21 years of experience
49 reviews
Michael
21 years of experience
Audi A4 - Oil Change - Las Vegas, Nevada
Michael arrived a little early and was very professional. He finished the service quickly but was unable to reset the "service due" indicator on the dash.

Need Help With Your Car?

Our certified mobile mechanics make house calls in over 2,000 U.S. cities. Fast, free online quotes for your car repair.

GET A QUOTE

Related articles

P0337 OBD-II Trouble Code: Crankshaft Position Sensor A Circuit Low Input
P0337 means that the crankshaft is suffering because of low voltage. This could be due to sensor not being aligned properly or electrical problems.
Symptoms of a Bad or Failing Injector Control Pressure Sensor
Common signs include starting issues, engine misfires, the Check Engine Light coming on, and a decrease in power, acceleration, and fuel economy.
How Long Does an Injector Control Pressure Sensor Last?
A A diesel engine is a very sensitive and complicated piece of machinery. Getting a diesel to crank will require a number of parts to work together. Among the most vital systems on a diesel engine is the fuel injection....

Related questions

Which Sensors Can Be Cleaned Instead of Being Replaced?

In most cases, sensors for your automobile will need to be replaced if they fail, but depending on the type of sensor and its location or function, some can be cleaned and reused. Sensors can come in many types...

When I start my car on a cold morning I have to pump the accelerator to get it to start.

As a general rule, car engines do not like cold weather and do not do operate as well in cold weather. When you start your car in the morning and turn the key to on, the coolant temperature sensor immediately...

My gas mileage has dropped to 22 mpg, what could be the cause?

When a vehicle gets poor fuel economy, it's typically due to an electrical sensor that is faulty, such as the oxygen sensors, the air fuel ratio sensor, dirty fuel injectors, or the throttle body being dirty. Driving habits can also...

How can we help?

Our service team is available 7 days a week, Monday - Friday from 6 AM to 5 PM PST, Saturday - Sunday 7 AM - 4 PM PST.

1 (855) 347-2779 · hi@yourmechanic.com