When the check engine light goes on, there are a number of different things that could have triggered the warning light. This may include a faulty oxygen sensor, bad spark plugs, a malfunctioning mass airflow sensor or just a loose gas cap. If you need to have your vehicle inspected soon, you ought to investigate the source of the light, as this can cause your car to fail the inspection.
The camshaft position sensor might also be the source of the problem. In fact, it was rated the 11th most common automotive repair by CarMD's recent Vehicle Health Index. This sensor is responsible for monitoring the camshaft's position and relaying the information to the electronic control module, which then uses the data to instruct the coils to ignite the spark plugs at the right time.
Many newer vehicles also rely on this sensor in place of the distributor in the ignition system, which can reduce the risk of mechanical problems. However, if the camshaft position sensor is faulty, this can also make it very difficult to start the vehicle. For example, if you attempt to start the vehicle and it takes longer than usual for the engine to catch and roar to life, this may be due to a faulty sensor.
You may also notice that the engine runs rough every now and then, or it could stall when you accelerate. When the camshaft position sensor is not operating properly, the spark plugs may not be igniting the gas at just the right moment, which will reduce the engine's efficiency. In this case, you may notice a decline in your vehicle's fuel economy.
The worst thing that can happen due to a faulty sensor is that the spark plugs will not function. With no spark to ignite the gas in the combustion chamber, the engine simply won't run. Chances are that this symptom will not be the first that you notice, but if you start to sense that it is not running as efficiently or smoothly as usual, the camshaft position sensor may be at the root of the problem.
The sensor is prone to acting poorly in extreme temperatures, and with winter approaching, the last thing you want to worry about is breaking down during a snow storm. This is why it is important to address seemingly small issues, like the check engine light, to prevent more major problems.