How Are Sensors Used to Improve a Car’s Performance?

Schedule Brake Pad Replacement
Service Area

$125.02 - $465.01

Price range for all vehicles
Average rating from 11,884 customers who received a Brake Pads Replacement.

How are Car Sensors Used to Improve A Car’s Performance?

In the mid-1950’s, hot rodders would flock to abandoned air strips to “drag it out” and see how quick and fast their cars could travel down a quarter mile. They would change spark plug ignition timing, twist the carburetor idle screw slightly and even take out water pumps to save an extra 20 lbs. and increase speed by one MPH. Today’s modern engines make fine tuning and tinkering unnecessary by utilizing a series of car sensors that play key roles to get the best performance possible for your vehicle.

The sensors used in production cars sold in the United States are often mechanical in nature and designed to play a part in controlling engine emission levels. As technology has improved, virtually all mechanical components or systems use sensors to make adjustments on the fly. In fact, sensors are able to send data to the engine control module (ECU) to instantaneously adapt to current driving conditions.

The information below will outline some of the most common engine and transmission sensors used on production cars, trucks and SUV’s sold in the United States, how they work, and the job they are designed to accomplish.

The Oxygen Sensor

Commonly referred to by frustrated car owners who have failed an emissions test as the O2 sensor, the oxygen sensor is an important part of how your vehicle handles emissions. It lets your diagnostic computer know how much unburned fuel is still present in the exhaust. On most cars, there are up to four oxygen sensors that are located in two distinct locations.

The front bank oxygen sensors are located on or near the exhaust manifold. These sensors measure the exhaust emission levels immediately after combustion. The second bank of oxygen sensors are located after the catalytic converter; as to monitor the emission levels after it’s gone through the converter. If the mixture of air and fuel is correct, very little will change. This sensor monitors if your fuel is rich, lean, or average, which is right where it should be. Based on information from the oxygen sensor, the powertrain control module (PCM) alters the amount of fuel put into the mixture.

The MAP Sensor

The MAP, or manifold absolute pressure sensor, monitors the intake volume to change the frequency or voltage if the pressure in the manifold changes. Essentially, it’s a component of ignition system and relays data from the intake manifold, to the ECU/PCM. If adjustments are needed, the ECU will adjust the ignition spark level to ensure the fuel burns efficiently. When the sensor doesn’t work, reduced performance is the result. It is recommended to have a professional mechanic complete the MAP sensor replacement as it will require resetting error codes in the ECU.

Throttle Position Sensor

The throttle position sensor reports the position of the gas pedal to the ECU. The computer then adjusts the position of the throttle plate, which helps determine the amount of air flow to the engine and the amount of fuel to be injected for the required ratio of air-fuel mixture. The throttle position sensor also plays a part in the shifting of gears in an automatic transmission. If this sensor stops working, the car's computer will not be able to calculate the right amount of fuel to be injected in the system, and it may not be able to change the gears. If it becomes damaged, you will need a professional mechanic to replace the throttle position sensor.

The Mass Air Flow Sensor

The mass airflow (MAF) sensor measures the amount of air entering the engine. For an engine to perform properly, it needs a specific amount of air-fuel mixture. The ECU or PCM reads the amount of air coming into the engine from the MAF sensor and then calculates the correct amount of fuel needed for proper engine performance. If the sensor goes bad, the engine will not know the right amount of fuel to add, causing problems including poor gas mileage, lack of power and more. A damaged MAF sensor can cause problems in starting a vehicle, reduced acceleration or emissions testing to fail.

Each of these car sensors must work together in order for the vehicle to run efficiently. If you notice that your check engine light has been illuminated on the dashboard, contact a professional mobile mechanic to complete a check engine light inspection, so they can download any stored error codes and determine what sensors is faulty and complete the right repairs.


Next Step

Schedule Brake Pad Replacement

The most popular service booked by readers of this article is Brake Pad Replacement. 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 10k 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 Brake Pad Replacement reviews

Excellent Rating


YourMechanic Brake Pad Replacement Service

Average Rating

4.9/5

Number of Reviews

11,884

Rating Summary
11,350
339
70
35
90
11,350
339
70
35
90

Jose

8 years of experience
33 reviews
Jose
8 years of experience
BMW 325i - Brake Pads Replacement (Front) - Redwood City, California
I had a few mechanics from YM and _all_ of them arrived late (some even 2 hours late) , but not Jose! He arrived right on time! I gave him the keys and let him do his job. I am a curious person so I asked him a few questions about his techniques and he had no problem answering them all with detailed explanations! He did run into a problem on my car because of stripped bolts, but he literally went above and beyond and found a way to remove it. Best mechanic ever.
Lexus CT200h - Brake Pads Replacement (Front) - South San Francisco, California
Jose was on time and did a great job on my brakes. He was friendly and explained the entire process. Would highly recommend.

Augustine

11 years of experience
35 reviews
Augustine
11 years of experience
Chevrolet Equinox - Brake Pads Replacement (Front) - Rio Rancho, New Mexico
Augustine was amazing. He was the perfect example of customer service all around. While he was working, I was recommending him to my neighbors. Next time I need work, I will be requesting Augustine specifically!!!!! Please give him a raise or bonus!!!
Toyota Corolla - Brake Pads Replacement (Front) - Albuquerque, New Mexico
Mr. Sanchez showed up on time and finished replacing my rotors and break pads. He was very informative and treats your car like his own. He was very time efficient and communicated very well. I highly recommend Mr. Sanchez’s services!!!!

John

26 years of experience
552 reviews
John
26 years of experience
GMC Yukon XL 1500 - Brake Pads Replacement (Rear) - League City, Texas
I am so happy John is back. I trust him very much. He is efficient and has a tremendous amount of mechanical knowledge. He is a true asset to Your Mechanic.
Ford F-150 - Brake Pads Replacement (Front, Rear) - Alvin, Texas
I like John because he is very knowledgeable about all my vehicles. In addition he is very organized regarding how he performs his work.

Wesley

8 years of experience
45 reviews
Wesley
8 years of experience
Dodge Nitro - Brake Pads Replacement (Front) - Peoria, Arizona
Great experience. Very professional, friendly, and knowledgeable. Highly recommended and will continue to use for future work.

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