How To Start a Car With a Bad Crankshaft Sensor?

How To Start a Car with a Bad Crankshaft Sensor – Are you in a rush to hit the road but faced with the frustration of your car hesitating to start? That dreaded moment, when the ignition fails to respond, might be due to a crankshaft sensor glitch.

This issue often requires professional attention, knowing how to start a car with a bad crankshaft sensor can save the day and get you rolling temporarily.

A bad crankshaft sensor can be a significant headache, potentially leading to engine failure if ignored.

Although it’s not recommended to drive a vehicle with a faulty crankshaft sensor, there are ways to perform basic mechanical workarounds or utilize starting fluid to kickstart your car.

However, these methods are temporary solutions and should only be used in emergencies.

Starting a car with a bad crankshaft sensor requires a bit of finesse. Imagine starting a car with an empty tank; you refill the tank before starting the engine.

Similarly, with a faulty crankshaft sensor, the recommended action is to replace the sensor before attempting to start the vehicle again, just as you would in any regular situation.

Understanding the significance of the crank angle sensor is crucial. It’s not merely an extra component within the engine; rather, it’s an integral part without which the engine won’t initiate.

Some sensors might allow the vehicle to start and operate in a limp mode when malfunctioning, but the crank angle sensor isn’t one of them.

The information it provides to the engine management system is fundamental for proper engine functionality.

how to start a car with a bad crankshaft sensor

In our comprehensive guide, we discuss the nuances of how to start a car with a bad crankshaft sensor, providing detailed steps and insights to aid you in managing this tricky situation.

What is a Crankshaft Sensor and How Does It Work?

The crankshaft sensor, also known as a crankshaft position sensor (CKP), plays a vital role in the engine’s functionality.

Positioned near the engine’s crankshaft, it detects the crankshaft’s rotation and relays this information to the powertrain control module (PCM).

This data enables precise timing for ignition and fuel injection. When the CKP malfunctions, it disrupts the engine’s timing and performance.

Can You Start a Car With a Faulty Crank Sensor?

Starting a car with a bad crankshaft sensor differs depending on the vehicle’s make and model. Some older cars may allow the engine to start despite the sensor issue, albeit with limitations or extended cranking.

However, modern cars equipped with advanced electronic systems often prevent engine start-up, disabling critical systems like fuel injection or ignition.

Indications of a Faulty Crankshaft Sensor

Recognizing symptoms of a bad crankshaft sensor is crucial for timely intervention:

how to start a car with a bad crankshaft sensor

  • Engine Vibrations: Increased engine vibrations due to improper crankshaft control.
  • Check Engine Light: Illumination of the check engine light, indicating potential sensor-related issues (codes P0335 or P0336).
  • Performance Issues: Hesitation or delayed response when accelerating.
  • Starting Difficulty: Struggling or failure to start the engine.
  • Engine Stalling: Unexplained engine stalling during operation.
  • Cylinder Misfiring: Misfiring within engine cylinders, though other factors may contribute to this issue.

How To Start a Car Temporarily With a Bad Crankshaft Sensor

While it’s ideal to address a faulty CKP promptly, here are steps to temporarily start the car:

1. Locate the sensor near the engine’s crankshaft, typically found behind the front passenger-side tire or attached to the timing cover.

2. Unplug the sensor by pressing and pulling it from its port.

3. Apply starting fluid to the throttle body under the hood to assist in engine ignition for a temporary drive to a mechanic for diagnosis and repair.

Replacing the Crankshaft Sensor

If the temporary measures fail, replacing the crankshaft sensor is advisable.

Here are the steps for sensor replacement:

1. Disconnect the negative battery cable to avoid electrical mishaps.

2. Locate and remove the faulty sensor near the engine’s harmonic balancer or timing cover.

3. Clean the area around the sensor mount and install the new sensor securely.

4. Reconnect the electrical connector and test the engine startup.

Other Tips to Start a Car With a Faulty Crank Sensor

Consider these additional steps if your car won’t start:

1. Ensure adequate fuel and oil levels.

2. Check for loose wires or electrical shorts near the sensor.

3. Attempt starting the vehicle in neutral, especially if transmission-related issues are suspected.

Longevity and Impact of a Faulty Crankshaft Sensor

Crankshaft sensors should ideally last the lifetime of a vehicle but can fail due to wear, damage, contamination, or wiring issues.

Driving without a functional crankshaft sensor risks engine damage, poor performance, increased fuel consumption, and potential check engine light activation.

Can you start a car without the crankshaft position sensor?

No, you cannot start a car without the Crankshaft Position Sensor (CKP) as it is crucial for the ignition timing and fuel injection. Without its signal, the engine will not start because there will be no ignition and, in many cases, no fuel injection either.

How to bypass the crankshaft sensor?

Bypassing the crankshaft sensor isn’t feasible as it is a vital component directly related to ignition timing. If the sensor is faulty, replacing it is the solution, which typically only takes a few minutes.

What happens when a crank sensor goes out?

When a crankshaft position sensor fails, it ceases to send signals to the vehicle’s computer. This failure results in a spark plug malfunction, rendering the car unable to start.

What happens if you keep driving with a bad crankshaft sensor?

Continuing to drive with a faulty crankshaft position sensor is not advisable. It can prevent your vehicle from starting altogether, potentially leaving you stranded. It’s best to address and fix this issue promptly to avoid getting stuck due to an unstartable vehicle.


Understanding the significance of the crankshaft position sensor (CKP) in a vehicle’s functionality is crucial. This sensor plays a pivotal role in ignition timing and fuel injection, meaning a faulty CKP can render your car unable to start.

Ignoring a malfunctioning crankshaft sensor could lead to potential stalling, engine failure, and the inconvenience of being stranded without a drivable vehicle.

Temporary measures like using starting fluid or basic troubleshooting can help in emergencies, but these are not long-term solutions. Replacing a bad crankshaft sensor is the most effective way to ensure proper engine function and reliable vehicle operation.

Driving with a bad crankshaft sensor is risky and can lead to further damage. Seeking professional assistance to diagnose and fix the issue promptly is crucial for vehicle safety and reliability.

Familiarizing yourself with how to start a car with a bad crankshaft sensor is beneficial knowledge. However, prioritizing the replacement or repair of a faulty sensor by a qualified mechanic ensures the vehicle’s long-term health and safety on the road.

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