What Does The PIP Sensor Do? (1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996 Ford E150, E250, E350)

Your Ford E150 (E250, E350) comes equipped with a Profile Ignition Pickup (PIP) sensor.

The PIP sensor is what Ford calls the crankshaft position (CKP) sensor located inside the distributor.

The PIP sensor is the beating heart of the ignition system and in this tutorial I'm gonna' answer some of the most commonly asked questions about it.

APPLIES TO: This tutorial applies to the following vehicles:

  1. Ford E150: 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996.
  2. Ford E250: 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996.
  3. Ford E350: 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996.

What Does The PIP Sensor Do?

The PIP sensor, which is located inside the distributor, has the job of informing the fuel injection computer and the ignition control module (ICM) the position of the crankshaft.

To be a bit more specific, it alerts the fuel injection computer and the ICM when the #1 cylinder is reaching top dead center on its compression stroke.

What Happens When The PIP Sensor Goes Bad?

When the PIP sensor fails, your Ford E-Series van's fuel injection computer and ICM will no longer receive any crankshaft position sensor information.

In the next section, I'll list a couple of the symptoms you will see when the PIP sensor fails in your van.

What Problems Can A PIP Sensor Cause?

A failed PIP sensor will cause an engine no-start problem due to a lack of spark.

To be a bit more specific, when the PIP sensor fails:

  • The ignition system will stop creating spark.
  • The fuel injection computer will stop activating the fuel injectors.

You'll see one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Check engine light illuminated in the instrument cluster.
  • OBD I PIP sensor trouble code registered in the fuel injection computer's memory:
    • Code 14: Profile Ignition Pickup (PIP) circuit failure.
    • Code 211: Profile Ignition Pickup (PIP) Circuit Failure.
  • The engine may start and immediately stall.
  • The engine cranks but does not start.
  • Engine runs most of the time but stalls every now and then.

How Can You Tell If The PIP Sensor Is Bad?

The only way to be sure that the PIP sensor is bad is by testing it.

The cool thing is, that testing the PIP sensor is not complicated nor difficult.

In the next section, I'll go into some of the specifics of the PIP sensor test.

How Can I Find Out If The PIP Sensor Is Bad?

Thankfully testing the Profile Ignition Pickup (PIP) sensor is pretty easy. The best part of all, is that you don't need any expensive diagnostic equipment to do it.

In a nutshell, this is what the test involves:

  1. Checking for PIP sensor trouble codes stored in the fuel injection computer's memory.
  2. Checking for spark at all spark plug wires.
  3. Making sure that the PIP sensor is getting power.
  4. Making sure that the PIP sensor is creating a signal.

On the distributor-mounted ignition control modules, you can find the PIP sensor test explained in a step-by-step manner here:

On the fender-mounted ignition control modules, you can find the PIP sensor test explained in a step-by-step manner here:

Can I Drive My Van With A Bad PIP Sensor?

In most cases, the engine won't start if the PIP sensor is bad.

But if the engine does start, you should avoid driving the vehicle since a bad PIP sensor will not allow you to safely drive it.

More Ford E150, E250, and E350 Tutorials

You can find a complete list of tutorials for the full-size Ford E-Series vans here: Ford 4.9L, 5.0L, 5.9L Index Of Articles.

Here's a small sample of the tutorials you'll find:

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Ford Vehicles:

  • E-150
    • 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996
  • E-250
    • 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996
  • E-350
    • 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996