How Long Does a Top Dead Center (TDC) Sensor Last?

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The top dead center (TDC) sensor is the point from which the firing order is determined and the ignition system measurements are taken. The measurements are normally defined as before top dead center and after top dead center. The TDC is meant to be a reference point that tells the spark plugs when it should fire and ignite the fuel in the combustion chamber.

The purpose of the TDC sensor is to ensure the reference point on the camshaft is dead center. This is usually located on piston number one. The TDC sensor sends a signal to the engine control module (ECM) which then sends a spark to the piston at top dead center. From here, the fuel is ignited and the power stroke starts as the piston is forced down.

Over time, the sensor can go bad due to becoming old, wearing out, cracking or starting to corrode because of the harsh operating environment. If the sensor goes bad, the engine control module will not receive the correct signal and the spark may be sent to the wrong cylinder at the wrong time. This can cause your vehicle to have issues running, or it may cause the engine to not run at all. Two of the biggest signs your TDC sensor is bad is the Check Engine Light will come on and your vehicle will not start. If this happens, contact a professional mechanic to have your top dead center sensor replaced.

Since the TDC sensor can go bad over time, it is important that you can recognize the symptoms that indicate it needs to be replaced.

Signs that point towards the top dead center sensor going bad include:

  • The Check Engine Light comes on
  • Your vehicle misfires or runs poorly while idling or driving
  • The engine will not run at all, causing you vehicle not to turn on
  • Backfiring from the exhaust system

The TDC sensor is important to keeping your engine running smoothly and everything in sync. As soon as you notice any symptoms, it is important to address them immediately.


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Michael

15 years of experience
518 reviews
Michael
15 years of experience
Mercedes-Benz GL450 - Brake Pads Replacement (Rear) - Atlanta, Georgia
Micheal was punctual and friendly. Work was completed within promised time. Will definitely use again.
Volvo S80 - Brake Pads Replacement (Front) - Roswell, Georgia
Michael was SUPER QUICK with doing my brake and rotors. Great communication throughout the whole process. Will always recommend

Kenneth

19 years of experience
509 reviews
Kenneth
19 years of experience
Toyota Sequoia - Brake Pads Replacement (Front) - Newport Beach, California
Kenneth did a great job and very knowledgeable. He has a great attitude and I will for sure be using him again.

Chuy

13 years of experience
129 reviews
Chuy
13 years of experience
Honda Civic - Brake Pads Replacement (Front, Rear) - Cicero, Illinois
Excellent work on doing the breaks for my car and the break and steering system flush I’ll definitely recommend and take into consideration for chuy’s work whenever I need a fix on my car

Richard

16 years of experience
72 reviews
Richard
16 years of experience
BMW 328i - Brake Pads Replacement (Rear) - Dublin, California
Richard was an outstanding mechanic. After he arrived, the first thing he did after taking the initial pictures of the car is an assessment into what work was asked. He quickly verified that I did not need brake fluid and my front brakes even-though it affects his personal commitments and time, which I think is highly appreciate and thorough professional. He was detailed oriented - took time to make sure that all the issue are fixed. He paid attention to detail in overall car assessment- he goes above and beyond. He was also teaching me through the process which I found highly educational and appreciate him providing the information ensuring and making me comfortable what he was doing and explaining patiently all the questions that was thrown at him. When he works - you know he's highly skilled and experienced and knows his stuff. He is highly experienced. He is a "Master" mechanic in true sense :)

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