Need a part or service found for you?
Call our experts on 1800 595 454

Different Car Sensors and Their Functions

CarPart  ·  December 8, 2021

Different Car Sensors and Their Functions

The cars that we drive these days are more intelligent than we realise, but that’s only possible with the help of sensors collecting data and feeding it to the car’s various systems. 

A car’s sensors are responsible for collecting data that are used to ensure everything functions optimally. These sensors measure temperature, speed, air and oxygen content, and many other variables so that the car’s systems can adjust and respond accordingly.

In this guide, we’ll explore seven general categories of automotive sensors and how they function to serve your car better. Then, we’ll discuss which of these sensors are the most important among them.

Seven Types of Automotive Sensors

Now, let's be clear about one thing: there are a lot of sensors throughout the body of a modern car. On top of that, as vehicles become increasingly more intelligent and more connected, you can expect future models to carry even more car sensors than the cars we drive today.

Even then, we think that you can categorise automotive sensors into seven general categories. So, here’s our take on the seven types of car sensors and their functions.

#1 Engine Management Sensors

The first category you’ll want to know about is Engine Management sensors. Here, we’re talking about all the sensors inside or around the engine. Each has a different function, but all are working to ensure that the combustion process happens as safely and efficiently as possible.

There are many different types of engine sensors, including:

#2 Proximity Sensors

These days, cars and other vehicles also come with several proximity sensors as a standard feature. These are pretty straightforward, as they let the driver know how close the vehicle might be to other objects around it.

For instance, some proximity sensors are designed to let you know when other vehicles on the road start to get too close.

More commonly, proximity sensors are used on the back of the car for reversing. These sensors only turn on when you shift into reverse gear, informing how far you are from the wall or car behind you.

Proximity sensors also feed data into other driver-assist systems. 

For example, cars with automatic braking systems use proximity sensors to measure the distance from the car in front. When the sensors see that the distance is closing too fast, it’ll trigger the system to apply the emergency brakes automatically.

#3 Temperature Sensors

Cars also come with several temperature sensors for safety and comfort purposes. For example, the engine will have a coolant temperature sensor to ensure that it doesn’t overheat.

Aside from that, there are also temperature sensors inside and outside the vehicle. As you might have guessed, these sensors measure the interior air temperature to keep you comfortable and the exterior temperature to let you know what the climate is like outside.

#4 Speed Sensors

Naturally, cars must also have speed sensors. You must be aware of the two speed sensors: the vehicle speed sensor (VSS) and wheel speed sensor (WSS). Each has a unique function, but both are equally important to your vehicle’s overall operation.

The VSS is typically connected to the speedometer cable and between the wheel and the vehicle’s axle. This sensor measures how fast the car is going and produces the reading that you see on your instrument panel.

The WSS, however, is closely related to your car’s anti-lock brake system (ABS), if it has one. That’s why they’re also referred to as ABS sensors in some cases. They collect real-time data on each wheel’s rotation and feed it back into the ABS, as well as any traction or stability control systems.

In simpler terms: VSS measures how fast the car is going, and WSS measures how fast each wheel turns.

#5 Electric Sensors

Besides the combustion system, the electrical system is the next most crucial system in your car. That system also has its fair share of sensors ensuring that all crucial components receive the power they need to function correctly. 

They also ensure that all components receive and send electrical signals, basically checking to see that they are indeed running.

#6 Environmental Sensors (e.g., Rain and Light)

Newer car models also have environmental sensors on them. These are the ones that measure rain (e.g., to turn on wipers automatically) or even light (to turn on headlights automatically). As mentioned earlier, some temperature sensors also measure environmental temperatures, so they’d fit in this category as well.

Some car brands and models come with windscreen sensors that perform these functions, particularly for sensing rain and light, among other things.

#7 Miscellaneous Sensors

Of course, some sensors might not fit into the six general categories we outlined above. And sure enough, car parts stores always have aftermarket sensors that you can buy and add to your vehicle.

Whether or not those miscellaneous aftermarket sensors are worth their price, well that’s a question for another time.

A typical example of this is TPMS or Tyre Pressure Monitoring Systems. These are popular aftermarket tyre pressure sensors that you can retrofit onto any vehicle to keep track of each tyre’s pressure.

They typically come with a dashboard display unit and mobile apps that show you real-time data. Plus, they can even sound an alarm if you’re about to have a flat tyre.

What Are the Most Important Sensors in a Car?

Of all the many different sensors in a car, it’s not easy to choose just one or two types and declare them the ‘most important’ ones. 

Sure, at first glance, it would seem like the engine management sensors are the most crucial. The car won't move or power its components without a properly functioning engine.

Also, it’s easy to assume that speed and proximity sensors might not be at the top of that list. However, without them, the risk of getting into a car accident is heightened significantly. Those sensors can mean the difference between life and death.

Suffice it to say that all car sensors are important, but each has a different role to play.

You can learn more about your car sensors and other related articles by checking out the blog at CarPart AU, check it out or bookmark it today!

By Ray Hasbollah

More from the Blog

Explore the Opportunity of Owning!

For Sale: - Your Gateway to the Automotive World

Are you ready to own a premium domain in the automotive industry? is now available for purchase, offering you an exclusive chance to step into the driver’s seat of this established online platform.

What’s Included in the Package?

  • Domain Name: Secure the highly sought-after, a single-word domain that speaks volumes in the automotive realm.
  • Website: Acquire the entire website, featuring the single largest directory of automotive suppliers. Benefit from top-notch Google rankings, providing instant exposure to a vast audience.
  • Instagram Page: Take over the Instagram page (@carpartdotcom) with a whopping 240,000 real car enthusiasts following. Become an instant influencer and leverage years of engaging content.
  • Carpedia: Dive into a treasure trove of automotive information. includes Carpedia, a comprehensive resource that draws daily traffic seeking valuable insights into vehicles.


  • Instant Exposure: With thousands of top-ten Google rankings, you can own the next car parts marketplace and enjoy instant visibility in a competitive market.
  • Endless Possibilities: The opportunities are boundless with a domain like In a time where single-word domains are rare, secure your place as a key player in the automotive industry.

Price: $1.45 Million AUD

How to Inquire: For inquiries or to express your interest, call the number at the top of the page telling us your interested in the sale of the website. Leave a message with our office, and expect a prompt call back.