Different types of sensors fitted in the modern cars


25 May 2023

Exploring the Variety: Types of Sensors Found in Modern Cars

Modern cars have become more than just a mode of transportation; they are now equipped with advanced technology that makes them efficient and safer to drive. These days, most cars have multiple Electronic Control Units (ECUs) that manage various vehicle functions.

The information the ECU requires to make decisions is gathered from various sensors installed around the car. If the ECU is considered the vehicle's brain. In that case, the car sensors can be regarded as their sensory organs, providing data to comprehend what is happening around them. 

Let's take a closer look at the most common types of sensors found in a car and their functions. 

List of the car sensors used in modern cars

Oxygen sensor:

  • Monitors oxygen levels in exhaust pipes of vehicles

  • Relay information to ECU to adjust air/fuel ratio for efficient engine performance

  • The ideal air/fuel ratio for an internal combustion engine is 14.7:1


Mass Air Flow (MAF) sensor:

  • Measures the volume of air entering the intake of a vehicle

  • Information used by ECU to determine the amount of fuel to inject for optimal combustion

  • Located between the intake filter and intake manifold


Engine oil level sensor:

  • Monitors engine oil levels to prevent catastrophic engine damage

  • Inadequate oil levels increase friction and wear and can cause engine seizures.

  • Usually mounted on the side of the oil pan and linked to the engine oil warning light on the dashboard.


Engine oil pressure sensor:

  • Monitors oil pressure in the engine to ensure smooth operation and prevent metal-on-metal contact

  • Located at the bottom of the cylinder head and linked to the engine oil warning light and/or check engine warning light on the dashboard


Coolant temperature sensor:

  • Monitors coolant temperature to prevent the engine from overheating

  • Sends signal to ECU to light up coolant temperature warning light on the dashboard if coolant gets too hot

  • Overheating can cause the engine to seize.


Coolant level sensor:

  • Monitors coolant levels and triggers warning light if the level drops below the threshold

  • Located at the bottom of the radiator or inside the expansion tank

  • Only use recommended coolants to ensure optimal cooling performance.


Air intake temperature sensor:

  • Monitors the temperature of air coming into the engine

  • Located between the intake filter and intake manifold

  • Cold air is denser and contains more oxygen molecules.


Manifold Absolute Pressure (MAP) sensor:

  • Sends pressure data in the engine manifold to ensure adequate fuel regardless of pressure changes outside the engine

  • Located on top of the intake manifold or in the intake tract

  • A faulty MAP sensor can lead to dropping in mileage, engine surging, or stalling.


Boost Pressure Sensor:

  • Found in vehicles with forced induction (turbo or supercharged)

  • It monitors the pressure difference between the turbo/supercharger and the engine.

  • ECU uses the information to inject the right amount of fuel for optimal performance


Engine knock sensor:

  • Monitors engine for unusual vibrations caused by uneven detonation

  • ECU uses the information to correct ignition timing and prevent engine knocking

  • A faulty knock sensor can reduce power and efficiency and cause severe engine damage if left unchecked. 

Sensors in modern cars have come a long way in enhancing driver safety. Understanding how these car sensors work can help drivers better appreciate the advanced technology behind their vehicles and the role that sensors play in making them safer and more efficient to drive. 

As these car sensors continue to improve, they will undoubtedly play an even more significant role in reducing accidents and keeping drivers safe.

Team Kotak GIC

The content of this blog has been created and carefully reviewed by the esteemed team at Kotak General Insurance, with the sole purpose of providing valuable guidance and sharing insights on the importance of general insurance. Our objective is to assist users in making informed decisions when purchasing or renewing insurance policies for their cars, bikes, and health. Our expertly curated information aims to empower our readers with the knowledge they need to protect their valuable assets and financial interests.