What Does The PIP Sensor Do? (1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997 Ford Bronco, F150, F250, F350)

The profile ignition pickup (PIP) sensor is located inside the distributor on your F150 (F250, F350) pickup.

The PIP sensor is a critical component of the ignition system and as such when it fails, the engine is not going to start.

In this tutorial I'm going to answer some of the most commonly asked questions about the profile ignition pickup sensor.

APPLIES TO: This tutorial applies to the following vehicles:

  1. Ford Bronco: 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996.
  2. Ford F150: 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996.
  3. Ford F250: 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997.
  4. Ford F350: 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997.

What Does The PIP Sensor Do?

The PIP sensor is tasked with reporting the crankshaft's position as the engine runs.

It then sends this information to the fuel injection computer and the ignition control module (ICM).

With the crankshaft position information:

  • The ignition control module (ICM) can now start activating the ignition coil.
  • The fuel injection computer can now control fuel injection and ignition timing.

What Happens When The PIP Sensor Goes Bad?

When the profile ignition pickup sensor fails, the ignition control module and the fuel injection computer will no longer receive any crankshaft position information.

This will definitely cause quite the disturbance in the 'force'.

In the next section I'll list a couple of the symptoms you will see when the PIP sensor fails in your Ford F-Series pickup.

What Problems Can A PIP Sensor Cause?

When the PIP sensor fails completely, your pickup's engine is not going to start due to a lack of spark.

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

  • 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 pinpoint a no-start problem to the PIP sensor, is to test the sensor itself. And testing the PIP sensor is easier than you think.

In the next section I'll explain the PIP sensor test.

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

As I mentioned earlier, the only way to find out if the PIP sensor is bad (or not) is to test it.

The test itself involves using an LED light to check the sensor's signal.

This is the basic PIP sensor test procedure:

  1. Check for PIP sensor diagnostic trouble codes.
  2. Check for spark at all spark plug wires.
  3. Make sure that the PIP sensor is getting power.
  4. Make 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 Pickup With A Bad PIP Sensor?

In most cases, your F150 (F250, F350)'s 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 F150, F250, F350 Tutorials

You can find more tutorials Ford F150, F250, and F350 in the following index:

  1. Ford 4.9L, 5.0L, 5.8L Index Of Articles.

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

Thank You For Your Donation

If this info really saved the day, buy me a beer!

buy me a beer

Ford Vehicles:

  • Bronco 4.9L, 5.0L, 5.8L
    • 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996
  • F150 4.9L, 5.0L, 5.8L
    • 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996
  • F250 4.9L, 5.0L, 5.8L
    • 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996
  • F350 4.9L, 5.8L
    • 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997