What Sensors Do All Cars Have? And What Optional Ones Are There?

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Professional mechanics agree that one of the most important evolutions to come about in recent years is the expansion of sensors to monitor mechanical systems. These sensors are responsible for continuously recording data and relaying this valuable information to the ECU. The benefit to mechanics is that they don’t have to scratch their heads to figure out what’s wrong with a car - the ECU's ability to store sensor trouble codes makes it easy to get this data.

In general, when a sensor detects a problem, it will create an trouble code that will be stored in the ECU until a professional mechanic completes a diagnostic scan. Once they download the stored codes, they are able to pinpoint the source of the code and complete the right repairs. The use of sensors has enhanced the capability and reliability of cars, but not all sensors are seen in every model.

Common Sensors Found on All Cars

Certain sensors are pretty much standard and may even be required by law. For instance, oxygen sensors are required to control tailpipe emissions and reduce pollution.

  • ABS sensors are necessary for the ABS system to work. They tell the system when a wheel isn’t rotating correctly to help prevent a problem before it occurs.

  • Throttle position sensors monitor the gas pedal and how much pressure is applied and compares it to the amount of fuel being sent to the engine.

The mass airflow sensor is seen on all multiport fuel injection systems. It monitors the amount of air to ensure the correct fuel/air ratio is maintained for optimal performance.

Optional Sensors You May Want to Consider

When you go car shopping, you need to know that some sensors aren’t standard on all models. Otherwise, you might be disappointed when you drive your new vehicle home. There are some new sensors that are considered upgrades or are available on premium automotive packages, while others can be added a-la-carte. In many cases, these sensors will require additional components to operate, so make sure to inquire with the dealership in regard to any additional items you need to install.

  • Tire pressure sensors are becoming more common, but they aren’t on every model. They monitor the air pressure in the tires and tell you when you need to add more air.

  • Parking sensors are also optional. Backup cameras are now required, and sensors may be one day. As vehicles compete for five-star safety ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, manufacturers are adding them to more models. They beep when obstacles are close to your vehicle and may be seen on the back or front of some models.

Although every car, truck or SUV has a maintenance program that needs to be followed, sensors are typically not listed in these programs. It's always a good idea to have a professional technician from YourMechanic inspect critical sensors when they complete routine maintenance on your vehicle; as being proactive about replacing damaged or dirty sensors can save you a tremendous amount of time, money and reduce frustration that comes with a broken down vehicle.


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Pardeep

20 years of experience
648 reviews
Pardeep
20 years of experience
Subaru Outback - Brake Pads Replacement (Front, Rear) - San Jose, California
If I could give 6 stars out of 5 I would. Very friendly and accomodating. Please retain and take care of Pardeep.
Honda Odyssey - Brake Pads Replacement (Front, Rear) - San Jose, California
Great service. Timely, efficient, and friendly. Also gave good advice on services I actually needed.

Andrew

14 years of experience
236 reviews
Andrew
14 years of experience
Ford Escape - Brake Pads Replacement (Front) - Portland, Oregon
Andrew has come to fix my car on two occasions and both times he was on time for the appointment, professional , and extremely thorough in his examination of my car and diagnosis. He is honest and straightforward as to what my vehicle actually needs done immediately, and what I can hold off on for awhile. Money can be tight sometimes, so I do appreciate that. I highly recommend this mechanic!

Christopher

19 years of experience
152 reviews
Christopher
19 years of experience
Honda Pilot - Brake Pads Replacement (Rear) - Land O Lakes, Florida
Would book again. On time, knowledgeable and friendly. Will definitely have him on my next appointment.

Theodore

15 years of experience
1132 reviews
Theodore
15 years of experience
Subaru Outback - Brake Pads Replacement (Front, Rear) - Renton, Washington
We have had previous work done by Theodore. Really appreciate his thoroughness and professionalism!

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