Thanks for using Just Answer, my name is Doug.
The computer uses a pick-up plate under the rotor button in the distributor to determine camshaft position.
The code that you're addressing, do you have a specific fault code number for it?
Yes. That code does point to the Cam Sensor.
If you have access to a multimeter I can give you instructions on how to check the wiring and computer signals going to the cam sensor. The actual output of this sensor can only be checked accurately by using a meter that can graph the pattern. Most mechanics don't even have one so I wouldn't expect the average vehicle owner to either.
Let me know how you'd like to proceed.
Changing the rotor and the cap will not replace the cam sensor/pick-up plate. The Cam sensor/pick-up plate is a component all to itself that is housed in the distributor, under the rotor button. To get to it you will need to remove the cap and the rotor though.
I cannot tell you that replacement of the sensor/plate will fix it. I can provide information on how to check that the sensor is getting everything it needs to in order to send the correct signals. From there you can make your own assesment based on the information you've gathered and what I've provided. Without a lab scope (that graphing meter I referred to) there will be no sure-fire way to verify, before replacement, that the sensor is bad.
The meter you have PROBABLY does not do graphing. Most graphing meters (oscilliscope/lab scope) like what I'm referring to start at about $1,000.00. If you have a model number then I can research it and tell you if it's capable.
The connector for the harness side should have three wires. With the sensor unplugged, two wires will show 5 volts and the other wire is your ground wire for the sensor. When you plug the connector back in, if you're able to pierce to tap in to the wires, one wire will still show 5 volts but the other one that previously had 5, will now drop. You can use your ground wire for the black lead of your meter while you're checking these voltages.
While you have the meter hooked up to the wiring checking for 5 volts and ground, have someone help you by moving the engine harness around. What we're looking for is a drop in the voltage caused by the rest of the harness rubbing on the engine, shorting with other wires inside the wire loom or signs or oil saturation. Continue monitoring the voltages while the wires get wiggled all the way back to the computer.
The diagrams I have are for a 98 model but they should be fairly close. I can get the correct diagrams (or verify them to be the same) tomorrow.
-Black/Light blue should be the sensor ground
-Violet/White should show 5 volts all the time
-Tan/Yellow should show 5 volts when unplugged and drop when plugged back in.
It's getting late here and I need to knock off for the night. I'll be available again tomorrow night starting at 6:30pm EST. If you have questions during the day I MAY be able to answer them. If you need assistance quicker, I can opt out and another expert can assist you further.
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