Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

Q: What Sensors Do All Cars Have and What Optional Ones are There?

asked by on

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

A: There are at least 40 different sensors tha...

There are at least 40 different sensors that most vehicles have today. I will have to subcategorize them into four categories: engine, transmission, interior comfort, and safety

All vehicles produced today use multiple computers to help with emissions, fuel economy, and safety features. It will be hard to explain all the sensors if you don’t understand that there are several different computers in today’s vehicles that have to talk to each other within increments of milliseconds. Each of these computers are for different areas of the vehicle.

These computers are for the 4 different categories I have mentioned above. They are networking together with something called a CAN bus system, which is a network of wires and fiber optic cables connecting one computer to the other. If these computers didn’t communicate to each other then vehicle wouldn’t be able to function.

To make all of this happen together like a well choreographed dance show, the computers rely on data from various sensors in the vehicle. All these different sensors use different voltages, amperages, and ohms.

Let me start with the engine sensors which are among the most complicated:

All these sensors work with the transmission sensors and with the interior comfort sensors to make sure the vehicle runs smoothly. There may be more sensors than what I have listed depending on the make of your vehicle.

The reason that the engine sensors work with the interior comfort sensors are to help put power to the engine when it needs it for acceleration, or for safety reasons such as a battery issue so you don't get stranded on the side of the road.

For example, if you press on the throttle really fast, the engine computer (PCM) may actually shut off your air conditioner, which is controlled by the body control module (BCM), to be able to gain more engine power until you reach your desired speed. If you were to disconnect one of these sensors, the engine will either not run or run so poorly you would hate to drive it. Also, if the alternator goes bad or your charging system goes bad while you are driving the computers will network and turn off all accessories to help get you off the road safely rather than let your engine die in the middle of the road.

Transmissions in today’s cars also have sensors on them to control fluid temperature and how the transmissions shift into each gear and how smoothly it achieves this.

Other sensors on the transmissions control your speedometer, AWD, and help your antilock brake system if equipped. These sensors are nothing to fool with and should always be checked or replaced by certified technicians.

The sensors most people want to disconnect to try to gain horsepower are the emission sensors and depending on which state or country you live in this could be illegal and pe punishable by fines or worse. I do not recommend disconnecting any of your emission sensors on your vehicle. If you have any questions on how something works or your looking at putting on aftermarket performance parts seek some help from a mechanic and do your research on what is legal for your state.

Was this answer helpful?

Need advice from certified mechanic? Get help now!

Over 1000 mechanics are ready to answer your question.
The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Get an instant quote for your car

Our certified mechanics come to you ・Backed by 12-month, 12,000-mile guarantee・Save up to 30%

Get a quote

What others are asking

Q: Where is the camshaft sensor position A in a 2008 Honda Odyssey 3.5L V6 engine?

Facing the motor in the van you will find the sensor in the front of the rear of the cylinder head. That would be passenger side of the rear head. Mounted in the end of the head.

Q: When I accelerate quickly the Check Engine Light comes on.

This may be related to many different things, such as a failing throttle position sensor or a bad mass air flow sensor. The throttle position sensor relays the position of the throttle plate relative to your foot's position on the...

Q: 1993 Nissan Altima transmission doesnt shift into 3rd gear

It sounds like you may have a transmission issue. The throttle position sensor plays a part in knowing if the transmission needs to downshift, but if you have a sticking shift valve, or a pressure control valve issue, that could...

Related articles

How to Renew Your Car Registration in Oklahoma(DELETED)
Having your car registered with the Oklahoma Tax Commission is an important part of driving legally in this state. You will need to do this within 30 days of moving to Oklahoma...
P0052 OBD-II Trouble Code: HO2S Heater Control Circuit High (Bank 2 Sensor 1)
P0052 code definition HO2S Heater Control Circuit High (Bank 2 Sensor 1) What the P0052 code means This code is seen when the Engine Control Module (ECM) tries to control the...
How to Avoid Back Pain in a Car
If you have back problems, sitting in a car for an extended period of time can be excruciating. Even without back problems, you could experience discomfort and soreness from...