Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

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

car sensors

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.

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details
Icon-warranty_badge-02

Skip the repair shop, our top-rated mechanics come to you.

At your home or office

Choose from 600+ repair, maintenance & diagnostic services. Our top-rated mechanics bring all parts & tools to your location.

Fair & transparent pricing

See labor & parts costs upfront, so you can book with confidence.

12-month, 12,000-mile warranty

Our services are backed by a 12-month, 12,000-mile warranty for your peace of mind.

Get A Quote

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

More related articles

Symptoms of a Bad or Failing Flexible Clutch Hose
Common signs include difficulty shifting, low clutch fluid, and feeling no resistance at the clutch pedal.
P0121 OBD-II Trouble Code: TPS "A" Circuit Range Performance Problem
P0121 code definition Throttle Pedal Position Sensor/Switch (TPS) A Circuit Range Performance Problem...
Insurance Requirements for Car Registration in Kentucky
The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet requires that all drivers in Kentucky carry liability automotive insurance, or “financial responsibility” in order to operate a vehicle legally and maintain vehicle...


Related questions

Q: Kia Cerato 2011 jerks when accerating

Your car's engine intake system has something called a mass air flow sensor that monitors air intake as it is mixed with fuel prior to being injected into the motor. When this fails, this can cause an imbalanced air/fuel load...

Q: Took my car in for a tune up and oil change. The next day the rpm's are running high, super loud, and running very hard. What can it be?

Check the throttle plate and position sensor on the engine. When the shop performed a tune-up they could have cleaned up the throttle plate and got the throttle position sensor wet. If the sensor is wet then the engine may...

Q: How to repair the P2238 trouble code in my car

Hi there. This P2238 code is set when the engine computer detects a short circuit on the heater for the 02 or AF sensor.The short is generally in the sensor itself and replacement corrects the condition. However, there could be...