How To Test 3 Wire Crank Sensor With Multimeter

Are you having trouble using a multimeter to test a three-wire crank sensor? If that’s the case, you’ve come to the right place! This blog post will look at how to use a multimeter on your 3-wire crank sensor to diagnose and troubleshoot problems quickly. We’ll walk you through step-by-step instructions that are simple to follow and understand, as well as common causes of crankshaft position sensor failure. With the information provided, you should have no trouble effectively testing your three-wire crank sensor with minimal stress or hassle! So let’s get this party started!

How To Test 3 Wire Crank Sensor With Multimeter

What Is A Crankshaft Sensor?

A crankshaft sensor is an electronic device used in automobiles to measure the rate of rotation of the crankshaft, which helps determine engine speed. The data from this sensor is then sent to the ECU (Engine Control Unit), which uses it as part of its calculations for fuel/air mixture and ignition timing. This type of sensor is called a CKP (Crank Position Sensor). It typically has two wires that connect to it, one supplying power and the other carrying the signal back to the ECU. In some vehicles, a third wire may be present for grounding purposes.

Crankshaft sensors are reliable and generally do not require replacement unless faulty or damaged. A malfunctioning crankshaft sensor can cause stalling, poor engine performance or starting difficulties. It is essential to have this component regularly inspected to ensure it is functioning correctly and that the information being sent back to the ECU is accurate. Doing so will help keep your vehicle running smoothly and efficiently.

A diagnostic scan tool or digital multimeter, along with the manufacturer’s service instructions, must be used to determine if the crankshaft sensor needs to be replaced. Assume it is determined that a new crankshaft sensor is required. In that case, only a qualified mechanic or professional technician should perform the installation, as improper installation can result in severe damage.

Symptoms Of A Bad Crank Sensor:

Misfiring engine:

A bad crank sensor can cause an engine to misfire, leading to a decrease in performance.

Rough idle:

A rough or jerky idle may occur when the crank sensor is faulty and not sending accurate data to the ECU.

Loss of power:

If the crankshaft position sensor fails, it can result in a loss of power while driving, as the engine may not adjust its timing and fuel delivery accurately.

Difficulty starting:

The car’s computer needs reliable input from the crankshaft position sensor to initiate proper starting sequences; if this data is unreliable or missing, starting issues can occur.


If the crankshaft position sensor stops sending data to the ECU, it can cause the engine to lose power and stall unexpectedly.

Poor fuel economy:

A faulty crank sensor can decrease vehicle fuel economy if accurate data from the crank sensor do not correctly regulate fuel injection timing.

Hesitation on acceleration:

An unreliable or missing signal from the crank sensor can lead to hesitation when attempting to accelerate, leading to poor driving performance and unpredictability.

Check engine light:

The check engine light may come on due to a wrong or failing crank sensor, indicating an issue with this critical component’s wiring or hardware.

Strange noises from the engine:

Bad crank sensors can cause a loud banging and ticking noise as the engine attempts to run without accurate data for timing and fuel delivery.

Excessive exhaust smoke:

Faulty or failing crank sensors can lead to excessive smoke from the tailpipe, indicating that something is wrong with the ECU’s regulation of fuel injection.

How to test a crank sensor with a multimeter

Before beginning the testing process, you should familiarize yourself with the position of the crank sensor’s wires – signal, reference, and ground. Once you have checked their locations and confirmed that they are secure and connected correctly, it is time to start testing.

Step 1:

Set your multimeter to the DC voltage setting.

Step 2:

Check the reference volt wire against the ground wire by connecting one of the meter’s probes to each wire. Please take note of your results and compare them with those in your car manual.

Step 3:

Next, test the signal wire against the ground wire in the same way as before. Again, please take note of these readings and compare them to those outlined in your car manual.

Step 4:

If either or both readings don’t match what is indicated in your car manual, this can mean a faulty crank sensor that requires replacing.

Step 5:

Before replacing the crank sensor, it is advised to double-check all of the connections. Proper wire connections must be present for the crank sensor to work effectively and safely.

Once you have completed these steps, your testing process should be complete, and you can take any necessary action. If you have further questions about testing a crank sensor with a multimeter, please consult your car manual or an automotive technician.

Types Of Crank Sensors:

The Magnetic Field (Variable Reluctance) type of crankshaft position sensor uses a magnet to detect notches in the crankshaft or harmonic balancer. This crank sensor is usually mounted near the engine block, consisting of a pole piece and surrounding coil windings. When the notch passes by, it causes an electrical current pulse that is sent to the computer for analysis.

The Hall Effect crank sensor works similarly to the Magnetic Field sensor; however, instead of using a magnet, it relies on notches or shutter blades on the crank, cam gear or balancer to disrupt a magnetic field in its window. The resulting voltage pulse is then sent to the computer for analysis. Compared to other types of crank sensors, the Hall Effect sensor is more precise and has a longer life expectancy.

Both types of crank sensors provide reliable performance to help diagnose engine issues, allowing for accurate readings to be taken by the computer to make necessary repairs quickly and efficiently. When choosing a crankshaft position sensor, it is essential to ensure that it is compatible with your vehicle’s specific model and make.

Tips for preventing crankshaft sensor failure

Perform routine maintenance:

Regularly inspect and replace oil filters, fuel filters, air filters, and spark plugs as part of a preventative maintenance program. This will help to reduce wear and tear on the crankshaft sensor and keep it running smoothly for years to come.

Ensure proper fuel pressure:

Low fuel pressure is one of the most common causes of crankshaft sensor failure. Make sure your fuel system is in good working order, and check the pressure regularly to prevent problems with the sensor.

Keep your engine clean:

Dirt, grime, and other debris can build up over time and cause damage to the crankshaft sensor. Keep your engine clean by following regular maintenance intervals and cleaning out any debris that may have gotten inside.

Avoid overheating:

Overheating can lead to several issues, including crankshaft sensor failure. Ensure all necessary cooling systems are functioning correctly and check the coolant level regularly to avoid any problems caused by excessive heat.

Monitor your oil levels:

Regularly checking the oil level can help you to avoid issues with the crankshaft sensor. Make sure that the oil is at proper levels and keep it changed on schedule to avoid unnecessary damage.

Pay attention to your drive cycle:

Your driving can affect the wear and tear on your crankshaft sensor. Avoid sudden stops, accelerations, or sharp turns that could cause excessive strain on the sensor.

Inspect for corrosion:

Corrosion can occur over time due to exposure to moisture, dirt, and other contaminants. Therefore, it’s essential to inspect the metal parts of the crankshaft sensor periodically for any signs of corrosion or wear and tear.

Avoid frequent stop-and-go traffic:

If possible, avoid situations that require frequent starts and stops, such as rush hour traffic or city driving. This can put extra strain on the crankshaft sensor and cause it to fail prematurely.

Inspect for loose connections:

Check the electrical connections of the crankshaft sensor periodically to ensure they are secure and free from corrosion or damage. Loose connections can lead to poor performance or complete failure of the crankshaft sensor.

Replace your crankshaft sensor regularly:

Replace your crankshaft sensor every 40,000-50,000 miles to keep it running in top condition and reduce any chances of failure. These tips will help keep your crankshaft sensor in good working order and prevent any costly repairs or replacements due to premature failure.

By following these tips, you can ensure that your crankshaft sensor remains in optimal condition and continues to perform at its best for years to come. Maintaining regular maintenance and avoiding situations that could cause wear and tear are key to preventing crankshaft sensor failure. If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to contact a professional mechanic for advice. You can keep your vehicle running smoothly for many years with proper care and attention.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What is the ideal ohm value for a crank sensor?

The ideal ohm value for a three-wire crank sensor is typically around 600 to 1200 ohms. This range can vary depending on the application, so it’s essential to consult your manufacturer or service manual before testing.

How do I test a 3-wire crank sensor?

Testing a three-wire crank sensor requires a multimeter and connecting it correctly to each wire terminal according to their grounds. Once connected, you should be able to measure the resistance across all three wires by selecting the Ohm setting on the multimeter. The reading should correspond to the expected range from your manufacturer’s specifications. Further troubleshooting may be necessary if the reading does not match up.

What should I do if the 3-wire crank sensor doesn’t work?

Suppose your three-wire crank sensor does not seem to be functioning correctly. In that case, something within the wiring has likely gone wrong, or there is an issue with the actual physical connection between each of the wires and its designated ground. In this case, you may need to check for any loose connections or broken wiring and replace them accordingly. You may also consider replacing the entire three-wire crank sensor if necessary.

Do all 3 wire crank sensors have similar readings?

No, all three-wire crank sensors will have slightly different readings depending on their application and manufacturer specifications. You must consult your service manual or manufacturer before testing a three-wire crank sensor to ensure that you receive an accurate reading.

Is it necessary to test the 3-wire crank sensor regularly?

Regularly checking and testing your three-wire crank sensor is essential to detect any potential faults or malfunctions as soon as possible. This will ultimately help you avoid costly repairs or damage down the line, so it’s best practice to check up on your engine’s components regularly.


Finally, using a multimeter to test a 3-crank sensor is an excellent way to diagnose and determine whether the sensor needs to be replaced. This test should be performed after other diagnostic procedures have been completed, such as checking for worn components or loose connections in the wiring harness. The voltage of the three wires shows how well the sensor is working. The faulty component must be replaced if one or more wires have no voltage. Using these simple tests, you can quickly determine whether your crank sensor needs to be replaced or reoriented.

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