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Can A Bad Knock Sensor Damage The Engine?

Bad Knock Sensor Damage The Engine

The first question in determining what can cause the bad knock sensor to damage your engine is what a knock sensor does in your vehicle? By figuring out the knock sensor’s main function, the symptoms of a faulty knock sensor, and the damaged knock sensor’s causes, you can help answer this elusive question. You will soon discover that this part has a very important role in your vehicle. 

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Let’s find out the function of this crucial component in your vehicle, the causes of a poor knock sensor, the signs and symptoms of a faulty knock sensor, and how much you can expect to pay for the replacement part in your vehicle. Knowing this key information can help you figure out if a malfunctioning knock sensor can actually wreak havoc on your engine. 

What is a knock sensor?


When you press on the gas pedal in your vehicle and hear a soft noise coming from the pedal or the engine, “engine knock.” Hearing this loud knocking or clunking sound and additional engine noises is the main sign of engine knock. These sounds can alert the internal computer to turn on the knock sensor. If this happens, you may have the answer to the question of “can a bad knock sensor damage the engine?”


When this happens, you hear pre-ignition, which typically occurs when there is a pocket of the air and fuel mixture lighting and igniting before the flame comes out from the spark plug. If you are wondering what a knock sensor does, this can help answer your question of “can a bad knock sensor damage the engine.”

  • The function of the Knock Sensor

If engine knocking happens in your car, a small electrical current goes off near the explosion, increasing the cylinder’s pressure. In most cases, the engine knocking can lead to severe damage in the engine, causing an expensive repair or complete replacement. 


When wondering, “can a bad knock sensor damage the engine,” keep in mind that a bad knock sensor can damage the engine and lead to a high knock sensor cost. If you are wondering how much it cost to replace a knock sensor, the answer is a lot of money that will come directly from your paycheck. 

Changing the Ignition Timing

In an older engine where the ignition timing works with your needs, the engine knocking can be analyzed and fixed by slowing down the timing. In addition, water injection could be a potential solution. By figuring out the engine knocking issues’ solution, you can successfully lower the total cost to replace a knock sensor. When wondering, “can a bad knock sensor damage the engine,” you can already tell that this part is crucial to the functioning of your engine’s timing. 


At high engine speeds, the control module is in charge of turning on the ignition timing, allowing the air to fuel mixture in the engine time to burn and combust at the right moment. However, if the ignition time is too delayed during the combustion process, it could lead to pre-ignition and pre-combustion. This uncontrolled engine ignition is also known as engine knock. The pre-ignition or pre-combustion leads to a high cost to replace a knock sensor and can help you find the solution to “can a bad knock sensor damage the engine?”

Delaying the Spark Timing

In order to prevent premature vibrations and explosions from happening in your car, the knock sensor is in charge of detecting the vibrations from the pre-ignition, sending a signal to the electronic control module, and delaying the timing of the spark to avoid the detonation. This delay in the spark timing can help keep your engine in good shape and prevent you from answering the question of “can a bad knock sensor damage the engine.”

  • What is “Engine Knock?”

Under normal driving situations and the car’s engine’s performance qualities, the engine control unit is in charge of triggering the spark to ignite the air to fuel mixture within the engine’s chamber. 


Since the air to fuel mixture takes a certain amount of time to burn adequately, the engine control unit adjusts the ignition timing to balance both power and efficiency. Determining what the engine knock is in your vehicle can help you answer the question of “can a bad knock sensor damage the engine.”


Any delay in the ignition timing spark can result in a decreased power and cue the engine knock to occur. Any advancement would cause self-ignition within the chamber and can damage the engine, leading to an eventual engine replacement that can be very expensive. 

What Causes the Knock Sensor to go Bad Over Time?


There are various reasons why your car engine knock sensor might go bad over an extended period. There are many solutions and root causes as to why you might have a failing or damaged knock sensor. Knowing the cause can help you figure out the answer to “what does a knock sensor do?” 

  • Vehicle Misuse

The second cause of a bad knock sensor could be the car’s misuse. If you are handling your vehicle roughly and causing poor acceleration and poor fuel economy, the car's performance will suffer, and it can damage the knock sensor. It can even go bad if you are removing the knock sensor in the wrong way. 


If you push the connectors the wrong way, the sensor can go out of alignment and break fragile parts. The breaking of these crucial internal components of your vehicle can make you answer the question of “can a bad knock sensor damage the engine.”

  • Check Engine Light

The second reason for a damaged knock sensor could be the illumination of the Check Engine Light. If the computer does not recognize the sound in your vehicle, it can automatically turn on the check engine light. Although this can come on for numerous other reasons, like a loose fuel cap, catalytic converter failure, spark plug issues, ignition coil damage, or bad spark plug wires, the engine light won’t turn on from the abnormal sounds. 


In this case, you should bring your cat to a mechanic to evaluate the cost of replacing a knock sensor. When determining the knock sensor’s value, the mechanic can help you answer the question, “can a bad knock sensor damage the engine.”

Faulty Knock Sensor Symptoms


When an engine knock occurs in your vehicle, the knock sensor is responsible for keeping your engine in a high-performing shape and preventing a bad knock sensor from damaging the engine to the point of replacement. Engine detonation occurs during the internal combustion process. 


During the combustion, if the fuel in your car’s cylinder explodes too early and changes the ignition timing, this can lead to faulty timing and a premature explosion. This detonation that occurs too early is often referred to as engine knocking and can cause a higher cost to replace your knock sensor. 


The powertrain control module is in charge of controlling a vehicle’s engine, transmission, and other specific driveline components. These important mechanisms depend on the make, model, and year of the vehicle you have and are crucial to the running of your car. Generally called the PCM, this automotive control unit combines the engine control and the transmission control unit. If the PCM is not working correctly, you may have to answer the question of “can a bad knock sensor damage the engine?”

  • Loud Sounds from Under the Hood

When the knock sensor starts to act erratically and becomes damaged over time, you may hear loud sounds from underneath the hood in your engine that can sound like loud thumping sounds. The longer you go without fixing the catalyst of this issue, the louder these sounds will get. These sounds will only get worse over time, causing you to find the answer to “can a bad knock sensor damage the engine?”

  • Low Engine Performance

The worst and most serious symptom that you might notice from the bad knock sensor will usually occur when the internal engine components become damaged or break down after constant use. If you have let the minor problems get worse over time without fixing the bad knock sensor or any of the engine parts, your vehicle will start to suffer. The engine will cause an increase in drag and jerking while accelerating, resulting in you wondering, “can a bad knock sensor damage the engine?” 


You might even notice a burning odor or smell coming from the engine. Usually, this smell is so strong and pungent that it will get into the cabin of your vehicle and can be easily noticed by both the driver and the passengers. If you continue driving your vehicle, this could result in the bad knock sensor and the poor engine components, causing the entire engine to be destroyed and requiring a replacement of the engine or an analysis of the cost to replace a knock sensor. 

  • Engine Warning Light on DAshboard

One of the first symptoms that are the most noticeable for the driver to see when determining your engine and knock sensor’s longevity is the engine warning light. You might notice this show up on your engine dashboard, indicating you may need to look into the cost to replace a knock sensor. Although this can happen due to many reasons, one of the main reasons for the engine warning light is a poor knock sensor. 


Other reasons that an engine warning light may come on are varied depending on the root cause. One of the main reasons is the oxygen sensor failure, which measures the amount of unburnt oxygen in a car’s exhaust system, sending data to the vehicle's computer and regulating the mixture of fuel and air that enters the cylinders. If this happens in your car, you will have to find the answer to “can a bad knock sensor damage the engine?”

Knock Sensor Replacement Cost

In most cases, with your vehicle and when your car is running at an optimal level, if you leave the engine knock alone and do not take care of the root issue, it can lead to permanent damage. The damage will quickly lead to engine breakdown and the need for an engine replacement. Engine breakdown can cause the car to be unable to accelerate smoothly, the car to start to jerk while driving, the car to stall, and the car to drag. 

  • Average Replacement Price

The bad knock sensor can damage an engine if you do not replace the part and if the faulty knock sensor has damaged other components. However, unlike an engine replacement, the good news is that you will not have to pay nearly as much to replace a bad knock sensor to prevent asking yourself the question of “can a bad knock sensor damage the engine?” 


If you have a standard vehicle, the average knock sensor replacement cost will usually range anywhere between $120 and $500 on average for the cost to replace the knock sensor. The parts’ cost is between $65 and $200, while the labor cost will range between $50 and $350. 

  1. Labor Costs 

In most situations, the parts cost and the labor costs will be pretty equal, with both of these averaging around the $100 mark. If you can find a good deal on spare parts that are used or from independent shops, this could lower the overall replacement cost, since you will be saving money on the parts’ cost. 


Knowing the average cost to replace a knock sensor can ensure you keep your car running healthily for a long period of time and prevent you from answering the question of “can a bad knock sensor damage the engine.” By keeping an eye out for the warning signs, like the engine warning light turning on, loud sounds, and reduced engine performance, you can reduce the total knock sensor replacement cost. 


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