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Electronics and Sensors
midautoparts.com KNOCK SENSORS

The knock sensor is an auxiliary sensor used to detect the onset of detonation. The sensor has no affect on fuel or emissions and is actually part of the electronic spark control circuit. Consequently, it affects ignition timing only. When the knock sensor detects the characteristic pinging or knocking vibrations produced by detonation, it signals the engine control module or electronic spark control module to momentarily retard timing. The computer then backs off the timing a fixed number of degrees or in increments depending on how it is programmed until the detonation stops. Then timing returns toKnock Sensor - Sensor is screwed into the engine's block or cylinder head. It is used to detect engine knock or detonation. normal.

The sensor, which is mounted on the intake manifold or engine, generates a voltage signal when engine vibrations between 6-8 kHz are detected. The sensor works on a "wall vibration" principle wherein a vibrating plate inside the sensor presses against a piezoelectric quartz crystal to generate an AC voltage signal. The strength of the signal increases with the severity of the knocking. When the plate oscillates at the right frequency, the knock sensor signals the computer or control module to retard timing. On newer GM applications, the signal goes to the knock sensor or "KS" module located on the powertrain control module (PCM).

The location of the sensor on the engine is critical because it must be positioned so it can detect vibrations from the most detonation prone cylinders. On some in-line five or six cylinder engines two sensors are needed to pick-up detonation at both ends of the engine.

If the knock sensor circuit fails, the computer won't retard timing to prevent detonation. The result will be an audible pinging or knocking from the engine during acceleration or under load. Light detonation usually causes no harm but heavy detonation over time can crack pistons and rings, flatten rod bearings and cause head gaskets to fail. Knock sensors can sometimes be fooled by other sounds in the engine, causing the timing to retard unnecessarily. A bad rod bearing or piston slap in a high mileage engine, for example, may trigger the sensor. So too can a worn timing chain or mechanical fuel pump. A drop in fuel economy or performance would result from retarded timing.

Just because an engine detonates doesn't mean the knock sensor is defective. The causes of detonation include:
* Defective EGR valve (stuck shut or inoperative)
* Too much compression due to accumulated carbon in cylinders
* Overadvanced timing
* Lean fuel mixture (or a vacuum leak)
* Overheated engine
* Low octane fuel.

The knock sensor can be ruled out on most applications by running the engine at about 2000 rpm and rapping on the intake manifold near the sensor with a wrench (never on the sensor itself!). Observe ignition timing with a timing light, or if that isn't possible listen for a change in engine speed caused by a momentary retard of ignition timing. The sound of the wrench should simulate the vibrations produced by detonation, causing the knock sensor to signal the computer to back off the timing. You should see a corresponding decrease in timing advance of usually 6 to 8 degrees and/or a decrease of a few hundred rpm in engine speed. If nothing happens, the sensor, wiring circuit or computer may be faulty.

Knock Sensor Blade Type You can also use a scan tool to read the knock sensor status directly. Some systems give a yes/no or on/off indication while other show the actual number of degrees of spark retard. If the sensor gives an indication of knock retard when you rap on the engine, the sensor and its wiring harness are okay. But if the timing fails to retard, there's a problem in the computer spark control circuit.

A knock indication that fails to change when you rap on the engine or one that shows constant retard at idle would indicate a faulty sensor or wiring circuit (or a false retard caused by a mechanical problem in the engine as noisy lifters, loose bearings, etc.).

Trouble codes that indicate a problem with the knock sensor circuit:
* General Motors: Code 43
* Ford: Code 25
* Chrysler: Code 17

If you're observing the knock sensor signal on an oscilloscope, you'll see a straight line constant voltage signal when the sensor isn't picking up any vibrations. But when you tap near the sensor (or when the engine knocks), you should see a momentary blip or oscillation in the trace.

The knock sensor is a sealed unit, so if defective it must be replaced. No adjustment is possible

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