How To Test The Camshaft Position Sensor (1992, 1993, 1994, 1995 5.2L, 5.9L Dodge Ram Pickup)

The camshaft position sensor, which is located inside the distributor, is a pretty easy component to test on the 1992-1995 5.2L/5.9L Dodge Ram 1500/2500 pickup.

With the help of this tutorial, you'll be able to find out if it's bad or not in 3 tests. All 3 tests are done with a multimeter.

NOTE: The camshaft position sensor is also known as the distributor pickup coil.

APPLIES TO: This tutorial applies to the following vehicles since they use the exact same camshaft position (CMP) sensor:

  1. 5.2L V8 Dodge Ram D150 Pickup: 1992, 1993.
  2. 5.2L V8 Dodge Ram D250 Pickup: 1992, 1993.
  3. 5.2L V8 Dodge Ram W150 Pickup: 1992, 1993.
  4. 5.2L V8 Dodge Ram W250 Pickup: 1992, 1993.
  5. 5.2L V8 Dodge Ram 1500 Pickup: 1994, 1995.
  6. 5.2L V8 Dodge Ram 2500 Pickup: 1994, 1995.
  7. 5.9L V8 Dodge Ram 1500 Pickup: 1994, 1995.
  8. 5.9L V8 Dodge Ram 2500 Pickup: 1994, 1995.
  9. 5.9L V8 Dodge Ram 3500 Pickup: 1994, 1995.

WIRING DIAGRAM: You can find the ignition system wiring diagrams here:

  1. Ignition System Wiring Diagram (1992-1993 5.2L V8 Dodge Pickup And Van).
  2. Ignition System Wiring Diagram (1994-1995 5.2L V8 Dodge Pickup).
  3. Ignition System Wiring Diagram (1994-1995 5.9L V8 Dodge Pickup).

Symptoms Of A Bad Camshaft Position (CMP) Sensor

The fuel injection computer, on your 5.2L/5.9L Dodge pickup, uses the camshaft position sensor in conjunction with the crankshaft position sensor to start activating the ignition coil and the fuel injectors.

Since the CMP sensor is such a crucial component of the ignition system, when it fails the engine will usually not start due to a lack of fuel and/or spark.

Usually, but not always, when the CMP sensor fails you'll see the following trouble code stored in the computer's memory:

  1. Code 54: No Cam Sync Signal Detected.

Circuit Descriptions Of The Camshaft Position Sensor

How To Test The Camshaft Position Sensor (1992, 1993, 1994, 1995 5.2L, 5.9L Dodge Ram Pickup)

The camshaft position sensor needs power and Ground to activate and produce its signal. As such, it has 3 wires coming out of its electrical connector.

In the table below you'll find a short description of each of the 3 wires:

1992-1995 Camshaft Position Sensor Connector
Pin Wire Color Description
1 Orange (ORG) 8 Volts DC
2 Black with light blue stripe (BLK/LT BLU) Sensor Ground
3 Tan with yellow stripe (TAN/YEL) CMP Signal

The following ignition system wiring diagrams will further help you identify the camshaft position sensor circuits:

  1. Ignition System Wiring Diagram (1992-1993 5.2L V8 Dodge Pickup And Van).
  2. Ignition System Wiring Diagram (1994-1995 5.2L V8 Dodge Pickup).
  3. Ignition System Wiring Diagram (1994-1995 5.9L V8 Dodge Pickup).

The camshaft position sensor creates an ON/OFF voltage signal as the engine turns. ON is when the CMP signal is at 5 Volts DC. OFF is when the CMP signal is at 0 Volts.

The cool thing is that we can see this ON/OFF voltage with a multimeter, and this is how we're gonna' test it.

Where To Buy The Camshaft Position Sensor

The following links will help you comparison shop for the camshaft position sensor (distributor pick-up coil). I think you'll save a few bucks:

TEST 1: Testing The Camshaft Position Signal

Testing The Camshaft Position Signal. How To Test The Camshaft Position Sensor (1992, 1993, 1994, 1995 5.2L, 5.9L Dodge Ram Pickup)

To start our camshaft position sensor diagnostic, we're gonna' see if the sensor is producing an ON/OFF voltage signal as the engine cranks.

As I mentioned before, ON is when the voltage signal is at 5 Volts and OFF is when it's at 0 Volts.

The wire we need to connect the multimeter to is the tan with yellow stripe (TAN/YEL) wire of the 3-wire connector. On some 1992-1993 Dodge pickups, this CMP signal wire is a gray (GRY) wire.

If the camshaft position sensor IS NOT producing an ON/OFF voltage signal, then the next step is to make sure that it's getting 8 Volts DC (in TEST 2).

IMPORTANT: The camshaft position sensor must be connected to its engine harness connector for this test to work. You'll need to use a back probe or a wire piercing probe to read the CMP voltage signal within the wire. You can see an example of a wire piercing probe here: Wire Piercing Probe Review (Power Probe PWPPPPP01).

NOTE: Don't have a multimeter or need to upgrade yours? Check out my recommendation: Buying A Digital Multimeter For Automotive Diagnostic Testing (at: easyautodiagnostics.com).

These are the test steps:

  1. 1

    Place your multimeter in Volts DC mode.

  2. 2

    Disconnect the ignition coil from its electrical connector. This is an important safety precaution!

    NOTE: Don't remove the distributor cap from the distributor. The distributor cap must be in place to hold down the camshaft position sensor.

  3. 3

    With the red multimeter test lead, probe the tan with yellow stripe (TAN/YEL) wire of the cam sensor connector.

    NOTE: The camshaft position sensor must remain connected to its engine wiring harness connector to be able to read its signal.

  4. 4

    Connect the black multimeter test lead directly on the battery negative (-) terminal.

  5. 5

    Have your helper crank the engine for a few seconds once the multimeter test lead connections are set up.

  6. 6

    Your multimeter should see the voltage switch between 5 Volts and 0 Volts DC as the engine is cranking.

Let's examine your CMP signal test result:

CASE 1: The ON/OFF voltage signal is present. This is the correct and expected test result and tells you that the camshaft position sensor is functioning correctly.

If your 5.2L/5.9L Dodge pickup is not starting, then you can conclude that the camshaft position sensor IS NOT behind the problem.

CASE 2: The multimeter DID NOT read the indicated ON/OFF DC voltage. This test result usually means that the camshaft position sensor is defective.

Before you replace it, make sure it's getting power and Ground. For the next test go to: TEST 2: Making Sure The CMP Sensor Has 8 Volts.