Technology has made people’s lives so much easier, even during the time they spend driving. These days, you don’t have to scratch your head trying figure out what’s wrong with your car, because it gladly tell you. The use of sensors has enhanced the capability and reliability of cars, but not all sensors are seen in every model.

The essentials

Certain sensors are pretty much standard and may even be required by law. For instance, oxygen sensors are required to control emissions and reduce pollution. ABS sensors are necessary for the ABS system to work. They tell the system when a wheel isn’t rotating correctly to help prevent a problem before it occurs.

Another important sensor in modern vehicles is the throttle position sensor. It monitors the gas pedal and how much pressure is applied and compares it to the amount of fuel being sent to the engine. The mass airflow sensor is seen on all multiport fuel injection systems. It monitors the amount of air to ensure the correct fuel/air ratio is maintained for optimal performance.

The manifold absolute pressure sensor helps ensure the ignition timing is at the right speed. This is another sensor that is needed to keep your car running. The crankshaft position sensor is essential in any vehicles without a distributor. It helps control ignition timing.

The options

When you go car shopping, you need to know that some sensors aren’t standard on all models. Otherwise, you might be disappointed when you drive your new vehicle home.

Tire pressure sensors are becoming more common, but they aren’t on every model. They monitor the air pressure in the tires and tell you when you need to add more air.

Parking sensors are also optional. Backup cameras are required, and sensors may be one day. As vehicles compete for five star ratings with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, manufacturers are adding them to more models. They beep when obstacles are close to your vehicle and may be seen on the back or front of some models.

Sensors are an important part of your vehicle, but you should know which ones you don’t have or may have to request when you buy a new model.

This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as What Sensors Do All Cars Have? And What Optional Ones Are There? and was authored by Joyce Morse.


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