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Crap... Camshaft Position Sensor Is Hosed

21735 Views 28 Replies 17 Participants Last post by  tesmith47
i get the check engine light a while back and finally got the time to get the car checked out because is running rough...

the camshaft position sensor is chewed all to hell... metal frags and such have ground away the CMP and the syncro assembely...

anyone know what its gonna cost me to have it replaced? or has this happened to anyone else?

97 merc sable 3L

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if there are metal chips and the sensor is in way "destoryed" then there is a bigger problem because its running rough like your cam gear is chewd up i would take a very good look if not take it to the dealer
its going to a shop monday... i dont think the damage is althe way down the shaft to the cam itsself but definatly on top where the sensor sits...
Take the sensor itself (Number "5" in your pix below) off & look closely. Spray some compressed air in there. & look to see if it is indeed damaged or if you're just seeing pieces from the old sensor. If you don't have compressed air handy, use a can of air for computers.

In mine it (Part #5) looked bad, but when I cleaned it (the top of Part #6 in your diagram below) up it was fine - It was just the sensor that was trashed. Be aware that the sensor uses a magnet that is spinning around inside to get a reading. In mine, that magnet had worked its way loose and was not only the cause of the damage but was still stuck to assembly (stuck to part #6). Make sure you get it out or you'll damage it too.

When you go to a dealer they tend to always replace the synchronizer as well as the sensor (5&6). The whole job can be several hundred dollars.

A new sensor (Number "5" in your pix below) is about $30 at NAPA auto parts. There's a wiring harness in the way a bit, but an easy do it yourself.

If you don't remove the synchronizer from the engine (Number "6") then there's no adjustment required. Just put the new one (part #5) on, tighten the two little bolts, & you're done. About 20 minutes from start to finish.
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yea i took the sensor off and found quite a bit of chewed metal... im sure there is something that is supposed to spin under the sensor to give the 1 cyl is at TDC, but this something does not exist anymore... and my problem is i cant find any good detailed grafix of what this is supposed to look like...

when you say several hundered dollars are you meaning 200-300 or more like 700-800?
If I remember correctly it's about $130+ for the synchro & we've gotta at least double the NAPA price of $30 for the sensor, so call it $200 for parts & maybe $100 -150 for labor?

But that's just off the top of my head.

Let me look for a picture. There's not much to that part #6.
thats cool.. i bought the sensor already today.. $25 at autozone
OK - here's a slightly better picture. What should be there after you've removed the old sensor & cleaned everything up is this half-moon shaped piece of metal and nothing else. Occasionally the magnet from the sensor wedges in this thing & it gets chewed up all to hell.

If yours looks like this, then you're probably okay. If not, you'll need the synchronizer replaced. Got some add'l info. The synchro is more like $140 at the dealer. Most auto parts places have the special tool you need to replace this, but it'll cost you around $25.

So, if you're going to replace the synchro, it's probably not that much more to have it done at a garage.

Good luck!


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Here's the whole assembly with sensor at the top.


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can some one post more pic of this? one as in the engine bay & others as reoved... etc an article will greatly help..
Originally posted by saerandy@Jan 24 2004, 11:56 PM
Here's the whole assembly with sensor at the top.
wow, that is completely different than the SHO. mine goes over the end of the cam journal and thats it. that looks like a distributor!
WOW ... id like to say Thank you for your excellent help on the matter...

once i get this fixed this week... will there be anything else i need to do to clear the check engine light, or should it do that on its own?
I'm pretty sure mine went away on its own.

I hope your synchro isn't bent/trashed. Good luck!
Originally posted by saerandy@Jan 25 2004, 01:52 PM
I'm pretty sure mine went away on its own.

I hope your synchro isn't bent/trashed. Good luck!
oh its trashed... dont worry... the whole thing will need replacing after seeing what the pic of the half moon is supposed to look like...
Some very informative threads on the Vulcan CMP Sensor and Synchronizer can be found here, as well:


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Originally posted by Alex_Perry+Jan 25 2004, 01:00 PM-->QUOTE (Alex_Perry @ Jan 25 2004, 01:00 PM)
@Jan 24 2004, 11:56 PM
Here's the whole assembly with sensor at the top.
wow, that is completely different than the SHO. mine goes over the end of the cam journal and thats it. that looks like a distributor! [/b]
That's because it is located where the distributor used to be.
well i got the camshaft positioning ordeal corrected, but now im getting a problem from the coil pack... cyl #2 is not getting spark........grrrrrr

how hard is it to replace that?
Hey quick question, in a 97 gl with a vulcan 3.0l if there is good spark and good fuel but it has a misfire on the number 1 cylinder could the syncronizer and sensor be the reason? Chris
I would suspect and replace the spark plug, the spark plug wire, and the coil pack, BEFORE I consider the possibility of a defective CPS.

After all, you can't actually have a good spark, on the #1 cylinder, and get a misfire report at the same time.

When I had a defective spark plug, you could take a test plug and it fired fine with the plug wire from the mis-firing cylinder. Later, I found the defective spark plug had a crack in the insulator, and it fired fine if you pull it, and held it away from chassis ground to see if it was sparking.

The usualy signs of a defective CPS or syncronizer are: bad or rough idle, and/or poor transmission shifting and/or poor engine performance.
A big Thank You! To all who have posted regarding "the squeak" a.k.a "the chirp". I have a 2003 with 101,000 and this was driving me crazy. I could hear it at idle, coming from the engine compartment, but when I opened the hood the sound was so elusive. My first thought was belt, or idler pulley, but the sound was coming from the other side of the engine. Drove me nuts...I was thinking cam bearing...or worse.

Turns out it was the cam syncro! What a relief!

More props to those posting about the Cardone and Dorman parts (these to be avoided at ALL costs).

A word to the wise: If you have multiple Ford dealers in your area, it pays to call around. I called two in the Portland, OR metro area and got three prices, ranging from $167 for the Sync ($40 more for the sensor), to $142 for the Sync...both prices from the SAME parts counter. A second dealer had a price of $157. Labor was quoted at $192.

Don't pay $40 for the sensor however, because Autozone sells the Duralast sensor for $26, and I'm pretty sure it's OEM since the Ford emblem was ground off.

At any rate, I followed the instructions posted here, left my office at noon to pick up the part and was back at work - cleaned up - by 4pm. I did the spark plugs along the way and if money saved is money earned, I made about $250.

Thanks again for the info!
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