Products suited to this guided test*
  • Multimeter Probes

  • Back-pinning Probe Set

  • PicoScope Battery Clip

  • Premium Test Lead: BNC to 4 mm, 3 m

  • *At Pico we are always looking to improve our products. The tools used in this guided test may have been superseded and the products above are our latest versions used to diagnose the fault documented in this case study.

Inductive crankshaft sensor, referenced, voltage during cranking

The purpose of this test is to evaluate a Crankshaft Position (CKP) sensor’s inductive, referenced, output voltage during engine cranking.

How to perform the test

View connection guidance notes.

  1. Use manufacturer's data to identify the CKP signal terminal.
  2. Connect PicoScope Channel A.
  3. Minimize the help page. You will see that PicoScope has displayed an example waveform and is preset to capture your waveform.
  4. Start the scope.
  5. Crank the engine for around 3 seconds to capture your waveform.
  6. PicoScope stops automatically.
  7. Use the Waveform Buffer, Zoom and Measurements tools to examine your waveform.

Example waveform

Waveform notes

This known good waveform has the following characteristics:

  • There is no excessive noise, nor any inconsistent breaks in the waveform.
  • At the start of cranking, there is an almost immediate response to crankshaft rotation.
  • As engine speed increases, amplitude and frequency increase until normal cranking speed is reached.
  • The waveform shows a cyclic variation in engine speed indicating the effect of the 4-stroke engine cycle, compression strokes decrease the engine speed whereas expansion strokes increase the engine speed.
  • The oscillations are punctuated by a periodic gap caused by the timing reference mark, which indicates a fixed position within crankshaft rotation.

Waveform Library

Go to the drop-down menu bar at the lower left corner of the Waveform Library window and select Crankshaft sensor (Inductive).

Further guidance

A Crankshaft Position (CKP) sensor provides an Engine Control Module (ECM) with its primary engine timing reference signal. The ECM uses the signal to calculate the engine speed and position for accurate injection and ignition control. The signal is also used to detect engine speed anomalies from misfires etc.

An inductive CKP sensor consists of a circuit with a wire coiled around a magnet. The sensor is accompanied by a pulse wheel, typically arranged about the flywheel circumference. The pulse wheel passes through and disturbs the sensor magnetic field inducing a circuit voltage. The induced voltage depends on engine speed: the faster the pulse wheel rotates, the greater the magnetic field disturbance.

When either the tooth or gap centres align with the sensor, there is an equal and opposite magnetic field disturbance and no voltage is induced. Conversely, as either a tooth leading or trailing edge aligns with the sensor, the magnetic field disturbance and induced voltage are greatest.

Positive voltage is produced when a tooth leading edge is closer than its trailing edge, and a negative voltage is produced in the opposite case.

The missing tooth on the pulse wheel provides the main timing reference mark. As the gap passes through the magnetic field, there is a period of reduced disturbance and voltage. Furthermore, the trailing and leading edge of the teeth that immediately precede and follow the gap are further apart, thus they produce a larger net magnetic field disturbance and induced voltage.

The CKP sensor signal is critical to ECM operation and it will not start or run an engine if the signal is missing or faulty. Therefore, the sensor can cause engine cranking but not starting, or engine cutting out symptoms.

Possible faults are:

  • Short or open circuits and high resistance in the sensor coil or circuit.
  • Reduced sensor output due to excessive dirt and detritus on the sensor housing or pulse wheel.
  • Incorrect fitment or operation of the sensor or crankshaft components, causing:
  • excessive gaps between the sensor and pulse wheel
  • damage to the sensor housing or pulse wheel
  • excessive crank or flywheel movement or vibration

A two pin CKP sensor and ECM circuit can be arranged in two ways, with either:

  • a constant reference, non-floating, voltage to one side of the sensor and the sensor output signal on the other; or
  • a floating voltage, with mirrored output signals on each side of the sensor.

Diagnostic trouble codes

Selection of component related Diagnostic Trouble Codes (DTCs):
















View more


This help topic is subject to changes without notification. The information within is carefully checked and considered to be correct. This information is an example of our investigations and findings and is not a definitive procedure. Pico Technology accepts no responsibility for inaccuracies. Each vehicle may be different and require unique test settings.

Help us improve our tests

We know that our PicoScope users are clever and creative and we’d love to receive your ideas for improvement on this test. Click the Add comment button to leave your feedback.

Add comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Guided test: Crankshaft position sensor inductive, referenced, voltage during cranking