How To Start A Car With A Bad Crankshaft Sensor

Last updated on January 2nd, 2024 at 06:46 pm

Stranded with a car that refuses to start because of a crankshaft sensor glitch? It’s undeniably frustrating, but fear not – there are ways to kick-start your vehicle even with a faulty crankshaft sensor. In this guide on “How To Start A Car With A Bad Crankshaft Sensor,” we’ll unravel the steps you can take when faced with this predicament.

To navigate this tricky situation, understanding what a crankshaft does and spotting signs of a troubled sensor are key. These insights will empower you to tackle the issue head-on or get your car to a professional for a swift fix.

Let’s delve into the world of crankshaft sensors and find ways to breathe life back into your stalled ride.

What Is A crankshaft?

The crankshaft, a vital component in an engine, converts the piston’s up-and-down movement into the rotational force necessary for power generation. Positioned at the engine block’s lower end, this rotating shaft ensures energy production, crucial for a vehicle’s functionality.

Maintaining a consistent crankshaft speed is pivotal for the engine’s seamless operation, safeguarding against potential damage. Modern vehicles integrate a crankshaft position sensor (CKP) to monitor the shaft’s precise location and rotational speed.

This sensor relays data to the Powertrain Control Module (PCM), aiding in ignition timing and fuel injection regulation. Ultimately, the CKP plays a pivotal role in preserving engine health and optimizing performance.

How Does A Crankshaft Position Sensor Work?

The crankshaft position sensor, or CKP, operates by detecting teeth on a reluctor ring attached to the crankshaft. As these teeth pass near the sensor, they create a voltage signal, relayed to the PCM.

This crucial data aids in ignition timing and fuel injection regulation. Should the CKP fail to signal, the PCM won’t trigger spark or fuel supply to cylinders. Its key role is maintaining engine rhythm by constantly monitoring the crankshaft’s position during combustion.

Essentially, it ensures the engine runs smoothly. This sensor’s failure can disrupt engine functions, highlighting its pivotal role in engine performance.

Signs Of Bad Crankshaft Sensor

When a crankshaft position sensor fails, it can cause a variety of problems that may lead to engine damage. Here are some of the common signs of a bad crankshaft sensor.

Vibration From The Engine

One of the most noticeable signs of a bad crankshaft position sensor is vibrations from the engine. As the sensor sends inaccurate data to the PCM, the engine will struggle to maintain a steady rate of rotation.

This can cause the engine to vibrate excessively, making it difficult to drive smoothly. As you grip the steering wheel, you may feel the vibrations settling into it.

Check Engine Light Turning On

Another sign of a bad crankshaft position sensor is the check engine light turning on. When the PCM receives faulty information from the sensor, it will trigger the check engine light to alert the driver of the issue.

The engine may experience functional issues, and two specific error codes, P0335 and P0336, may activate.

Difficult To Start The Engine

A bad crankshaft position sensor can also make it difficult to start the engine. The PCM receives an error code from the sensor when it detects an issue with its functionality.

If the sensor is unable to send accurate information to the PCM, it may be more difficult to start the engine. In severe cases, the engine may not start at all.

Poor Engine Performance

Engine performance may also suffer when the crankshaft position sensor fails. The PCM relies on the sensor to determine the position of the crankshaft and cylinders, which can lead to a delay in the engine’s operation and performance.

When you press the throttle pedal, there may be a hesitation or lack of response from the engine. In some cases, the engine may not respond at all.

Engine Stalling

Engine stalling is another sign of a bad crankshaft position sensor. If the sensor fails completely, the engine may stall and refuse to start again.

This can be dangerous if it happens while driving, as it can cause a loss of control of the vehicle. If this happens, it is essential to have the car towed to a shop to replace the sensor.

Misfiring Of A cylinder

A defective crankshaft position sensor can also cause misfiring of a cylinder. As the sensor cannot provide accurate data on the piston’s position, a misfire may occur inside one or more of the cylinder chambers.

However, other issues such as a bad spark plug can also cause this symptom, so it is essential to have a professional diagnose the problem.

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How to Start a Car With a Bad Crankshaft Sensor (Using Starter Fluid)

It is essential to drive your car with a properly functioning Crankshaft Position Sensor (CKP), but sometimes situations arise when you need to drive the car to a mechanic with a faulty CKP. In such cases, you can follow the steps below to start your car with a bad CKP.

Firstly, locate the crankshaft position sensor, which is usually situated at the back of the engine near the flywheel or attached to the timing cover. Once you have located it, remove the front passenger side tire to access the sensor.

After accessing the sensor, you must unplug it. To do this, hold and press the sensor, then pull it to detach it from the port.

The next step is to spray or apply a starter oil or fluid into the mount’s opening. To do this, locate the throttle body under the hood. Throttle bodies are generally located near air filter boxes.

Remove the throttle body cap and sprinkle a little starting fluid into it. This starter fluid helps the engine ignite, allowing you to drive the car to a mechanic for diagnosis and repair.

While starting the car, if the engine stalls or doesn’t start, you can repeat the process by spraying starter fluid into the throttle body until the car starts running.

After starting the engine, remember that the car won’t be functioning optimally since the CKP is faulty. So, be sure to drive your car at a safe speed to reach the mechanic.

How to Start a Car With a Bad Crankshaft Sensor (Other Ways)

If you’re having trouble starting your car and suspect a problem with the crankshaft sensor, there are a few other things you can check before contacting a mechanic.

  • Start by checking the fuel level, and fill it up if it’s low. Next, check the oil level and add more if needed.
  • Loose wires near the sensor could be causing an electrical short, so make sure to tighten them up.
  • You can also try starting the car in neutral if the problem is with the transmission.

If none of these steps help, it’s best to contact a professional mechanic for further diagnosis and repairs. They’ll be able to pinpoint the problem and fix it for you.

Don’t wait too long, as trying to start the car with a failing sensor could cause further damage to your engine and other components.

How To Replace A Crankshaft Sensor

Replacing the crankshaft sensor in your vehicle is an important task that requires proper attention to detail and a step-by-step approach.

Here is the step by step guide how to replace a crank shaft sensor

Before starting any work, it is important to ensure your safety by removing the negative battery cable to avoid any electrical shorts while working on the car. Once this is done, locate the crankshaft sensor, which is typically situated next to the engine’s harmonic balancer or timing cover.

The next step is to unplug the sensor’s electrical connector and remove the mounting bolts holding it in place. Once removed, ensure the area around the sensor mount is clean, as this will ensure a solid seal when installing the replacement sensor.

With the old sensor removed, it is time to install the new one. Place the new sensor into the mount and tighten the mounting bolts securely. Reconnect the sensor’s electrical connector, and you’re ready to start your car and test the new sensor’s performance.

Starting your car after replacing the crankshaft sensor is crucial to ensuring the new sensor is functioning correctly. If it starts right away, you have successfully replaced the crankshaft sensor.

If the car still does not start, there could be another underlying issue that requires further diagnosis and repair by a skilled mechanic.

FAQs on How To Start A Car With A Bad Crankshaft Sensor

Q: How Much Does it Cost to Replace a Crankshaft Sensor?

A: Replacing a crankshaft position sensor typically costs between $100 and $300, including the cost of the part and labor. The part itself can cost between $70 and $120, while labor costs range from $45 to $180.

Q: How Long Does a Crankshaft Sensor Last?

A: In general, a crankshaft sensor is designed to last the entire lifespan of a vehicle.

However, due to factors such as wiring issues, physical damage, contamination, and excessive vibration, it can eventually fail.

If you suspect that your crankshaft sensor is failing, it’s important to have it checked out by a professional as soon as possible. Driving with a faulty crankshaft sensor can lead to severe engine damage, so it’s crucial to get it repaired or replaced quickly.

Q: Is it Safe to Drive Without a Crankshaft Sensor?

A: No, it is not safe to drive a vehicle without a functioning crankshaft sensor. Doing so can cause significant damage to the engine and is a potential safety hazard. If you experience issues with your car’s crankshaft sensor, it is essential to have it repaired or replaced as soon as possible.

Q: What Happens If You Drive Without a Crankshaft Sensor?

A: Driving without a crankshaft sensor can cause your car’s engine to malfunction and result in decreased performance, increased fuel consumption, and eventual engine failure. It may also trigger the check engine light in some cases.

Therefore, it’s important to address any issues with the crankshaft sensor promptly to avoid potentially damaging consequences.


In conclusion, we’ve covered how to start a car with a bad crankshaft sensor, the function of the crankshaft sensor, and signs of a bad one. If you found this information helpful, please consider sharing it with others who may also benefit from it.

Don’t ignore any issues with your crankshaft sensor, as it can lead to engine failure and other serious problems. Take the necessary steps to address any problems and ensure your vehicle runs smoothly.