P0320 – Crankshaft position (CKP) sensor/engine speed (RPM) sensor circuit malfunction

John Ingalls

By John Ingalls (Contact Me)
Last Updated 2016-07-11
Retired military veteran and former Automotive Service Department Manager

Trouble CodeFault LocationProbable Cause
P0320 Crankshaft position (CKP) sensor/engine speed (RPM) sensor circuit malfunction Wiring, CKP/RPM sensor, ECM

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What Does Code P0320 Mean?

P0320 is a OBD II fault code that indicates that there is an issue with the Ignition/Distributor Engine Speed Input Circuit. This code is also commonly referred to as a crankshaft or camshaft position sensor error code. The Engine Control Module (ECM) has detected an issue with the the rotation speed or the position of the crankshaft or camshaft. The ECM receives an input from the crankshaft and camshaft position sensors based on the engine configuration and the year, make and model of the vehicle. The input is used to monitor the speed and position of the crankshaft and camshaft. Some automobiles also incorporate an ignition/distributor speed sensor that is monitored by the ECM. This information is used to adjust the ignition timing and the fuel settings to adapt to engine load variations and improve performance.

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What are the common causes of code P0320 ?

  • Defective crankshaft position sensor

  • Faulty wiring or connection to the crankshaft position sensor

  • Defective camshaft position sensor

  • Faulty wiring or connection to the camshaft position sensor

  • Defective ignition/distributor speed sensor

  • Faulty wiring or connection to the ignition/distributor speed sensor

  • Defective ECM

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Some common P0320 Troubleshooting mistakes:

  • Not flashing the ECM prior to replacing it

  • Replacing the ECM when one of the sensors are defective

  • Replacing the ECM when when faulty wiring exists

  • Replacing the ECM when when a faulty or corroded connector exists

  • Replacing the crankshaft position sensor instead of the camshaft sensor

  • Replacing the camshaft position sensor instead of the crankshaft sensor

  • Replacing the crankshaft position sensor instead of the ignition/distributor speed sensor

  • Replacing the camshaft position sensor instead of the ignition/distributor speed sensor

  • Replacing the the ignition/distributor speed sensor instead of crankshaft position sensor

  • Replacing the the ignition/distributor speed sensor instead of camshaft position sensor

What are the symptoms of code P0320 ?

  • Check engine light on: The ECM will detect the improper input from the sensors and illuminate the check engine light. This is to alert you of the issue and prompt you to have the system scanned as soon as you can.
  • Engine is hard to start:  The engine may be hard to start due to the fact that the ECM cannot adjust the timing and fuel settings for initial combustion. This situation requires the engine to crank over more times then normally prior to establishing the combustion process.
  • Engine will not start: The engine may not start at all, because the ability to establish proper ignition and fuel has been disabled.
  • Engine Stalls: The engine may stall due to improper ignition timing or an insufficient fuel supply. On vehicles equipped with a throttle body and carburetor, too much fuel may be being supplied causing it to flood and stall out. In some circumstances the engine may not restart after it stalls.
  • Increased fuel consumption: Increased fuel consumption is also a common warning sign due to the fact that the engine timing and the proper fuel supply must be precise. This circuit affects both of these functions and the fuel combustion will not be accomplished efficiently.
  • Decreased engine performance: This malfunction may affect the overall performance level of the engine in several different ways depending on the year, make and model of the vehicle. Some cars, trucks and SUVs may not accelerate normally or in some cases the acceleration is limited. This fault code may place the engine into limp mode on some cars limiting the max speed to approximately 30 miles per hour.

How do you troubleshoot code P0320 ?

When troubleshooting an OBD II P0320 error code you need to locate the components that are associated with the Ignition/Distributor Engine Speed Input Circuit. There are four main components that are normally involved, depending on the year, make and model on the vehicle. These components are the Engine Control Module (ECM), the crankshaft position sensor, the camshaft position sensor and the ignition/distributor speed sensor on some automobiles. You may need to consult with the appropriate technical manuals or online resources for your specific vehicle to accomplish this task. Locating the ECM is probably the easiest part, due to the fact that the scan port used to identify the code will point you in the right direction. You may be required to remove the timing cover to inspect the condition of the crankshaft or camshaft position sensors. These components are located in various locations based on the configuration of the engine. In some circumstances they are easy to find, but not always. Crankshaft position sensors are actually mounted to the transmission bell housing on some engines with Dodges being a prime example of this concept. After all of these components have been located, the troubleshooting process can continue.

  1. You should begin by checking the scanner to see if these components are receiving the correct voltage to function properly. If so, you should perform the following visual inspections.

  2. Perform a visual inspection of the wiring associated with the EMC to check for faulty wiring, a defective connector or a corrosion issue.

  3. Perform a visual inspection of the crankshaft position sensor. Look for obvious defects such as a broken wire or a loose, damaged or corroded electrical connector. The crankshaft position sensor may need to be removed to evaluate the overall condition. Check for cracks in the housing and other obvious defects.

  4. Perform a visual inspection of the camshaft position sensor looking for obvious defects. Check for broken wires, loose electrical connections and corrosion. The camshaft position sensor may require removal to evaluate the overall condition. Check for cracks in the housing and other obvious defects.

  5. Some engines may be equipped with a ignition/distributor speed sensor that would require a visual inspection as well. The same procedures would apply, looking for obvious defects such as wiring, corrosion or physical damage. The ignition/distributor speed sensor may also require removal to evaluate the overall condition, checking for cracks in the housing and other obvious defects.

  6. Perform continuity tests using an ohm meter to identify open or shorted sensors that require replacement.

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Codes Related to P0320

  • P0321Ignition/Distributor Engine Speed Input Circuit Range/ Performance

  • P0322Ignition/Distributor Engine Speed Input Circuit No Signal

  • P0323Ignition/Distributor Engine Speed Input Circuit Intermittent

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