The crankshaft position (CKP) sensor keeps track of the crankshaft’s position and how fast the shaft spins. When something interrupts, disrupts, or distorts the signal from this sensor, the powertrain control module (PCM) may log the code P0320.
What Does the P0320 Code Mean?
Diagnostic Trouble Code (DTC) P0320 stands for “Ignition/Distributor Engine Speed Input Circuit.”
Since the PCM controls critical engine systems such as ignition and fuel delivery, to manage these outputs, it needs to know the rotational speed and positional data of the crankshaft. A CKP sensor provides that information.
After the engine starts up, the PCM waits for the signals from both the crank and cam position sensors. If the CKP sensor doesn’t transmit after the CMP sensor, the computer will log the code P0320.
That’s generally how the code is set, but the criteria varies from platform to platform. Take note that this code isn’t listed on most vehicles, so, while you may see a similar code, you probably won’t see a P0320.
If the CMP sensor’s circuit suffers an electrical issue and the ECM/PCM algorithms call for it, the PCM may also set code P0320.
Note: The definition of code P0320 may be different depending on the vehicle manufacturer. Consult the appropriate repair manual or repair database for the exact code definition.
P0320 on a Ford F-150
The 2019 Ford F-150 code chart defines a P0320 this way:
The P0320 sets when several erratic profile ignition pickup (PIP) pulses have occurred in the crankshaft position (CKP) sensor signal within a calibrated time period when the camshaft speed exceeds the equivalent speed of engine idle.
The crankshaft sensor can be a Hall Effect unit (square wave) or an inductive sensor (analog wave), and the sensor reads a spinning tone wheel solidly connected to the crankshaft that has a tooth every ten degrees (36 teeth) but has one tooth missing for position detection. Thus, the ECM/PCM uses the missing tooth on the crank sensor reluctor in conjunction with the cam sensor signal to determine injector timing and misfires.
What are the Possible Causes of the P0320 code?
The PCM can log a P0320 code for various reasons involving either the CKP or CMP sensor or their associated parts. These reasons include:
- Defective CKP sensor
- Issues with the CKP sensor or CMP sensor circuit, such as damaged wires or poor connections.
- Faulty CMP sensor
- Damaged crankshaft or camshaft sensor tone wheel
- An issue with the PCM, such as software in need of an update
What are the Common Symptoms of the P0320 Code?
Deprived of the timing data from the CKP or CMP sensors, the PCM cannot determine the correct engine RPM. The resulting drop in engine performance may trigger these warning signs:
- The check engine light switch is on
- Engine goes through a hard start or doesn’t start despite cranking up
- Engine hesitates or stalls during acceleration
- Engine dies and refuses to restart
How to Diagnose the P0320 Code
Figuring out what caused the P0320 code in the first place can prove challenging, so many people leave the job to auto repair technicians. If you feel confident in your DIY car repair skills, you can try tracking down the root cause of the trouble code and fixing it.
To get an idea of what the P0320 code diagnosis process might involve, you can watch the following videos:
How to Fix the P0320 Code
There’s no single fix for the P0320 code, much like most OBD-II codes. A lot of people simply leave the job to their mechanic. If you feel confident in your automotive DIY skills, you can try resolving the code yourself.
You’ll need the help of repair manuals, such as those from Chilton or Haynes, or online guides and resources. You can also opt to get a single-vehicle ALLDATA subscription, which should be useful for this and most future repairs you may have to perform on your car.
Of course, remember that different car makes and models have their own different repair instructions. A fix that could work on one car may not work for your car.
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