TEST 2: Making Sure The Camshaft Position Sensor Is Getting Ground

Making Sure The Cam Sensor Is Getting Ground. How To Test The Camshaft Position Sensor (1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 3.3L V6 Nissan Frontier, Quest, Pathfinder, Infinit QX-4, And Mercury Villager)

Now that you've made sure that the camshaft position sensor is getting power the next step is to make sure that it's getting Ground.

Ground is supplied to the cam sensor by the wire identified by the number 6 of the distributor's 6-wire connector.

On the Frontier and Xterra, this wire is the black with yellow stripe (BLK/YEL) wire of the 6-wire electrical connector.

On the Quest and Villager, this wire is the black with red stripe (BLK/RED) wire of the distributor's 6-wire electrical connector.

On the QX-4 and Pathfinder, this wire is the black (BLK) wire of the 6-wire electrical connector.

This Ground is a chassis Ground and is provided at all times.

These are the test steps:

  1. 1

    Set your multimeter to Volts DC mode.

  2. 2

    Disconnect the 6 wire connector from the distributor.

  3. 3

    Probe the wire labeled with the number 6 with the black multimeter test lead.

  4. 4

    Connect the red multimeter test lead directly on the battery positive (+) terminal.

  5. 5

    Your multimeter should register 10 to 12 Volts DC.

Let's examine your test result:

CASE 1: Your multimeter registered 10 to 12 Volts. This is the correct test result and confirms that the camshaft position sensor is getting Ground.

The next step is to make sure that the camshaft position sensor is producing a 120° REF signal. For this test go to: TEST 3: Testing The 120° REF Signal.

CASE 2: Your multimeter DID NOT register 10 to 12 Volts. Without Ground the camshaft position sensor will not function.

Your next step is to repair this Ground wire and retest.

TEST 3: Testing The 120° REF Signal

Testing The 120° REF Signal. How To Test The Camshaft Position Sensor (1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 3.3L V6 Nissan Frontier, Quest, Pathfinder, Infinit QX-4, And Mercury Villager)

As you're probably already aware, your Nissan's camshaft position sensor produces two different signals. One signal is called the 1° POS signal and the other is the 120° REF signal.

Now that you've confirmed that Ground and 12 Volts are present the next step is to verify that the camshaft position sensor is producing a 120° REF signal.

The 120° REF signal can be easily tested with an LED light. To learn more about this LED light and where you can buy one, check out this link: The LED Light Test Tool And How To Make One.

We will connect this LED light to the wire labeled with the number 3 in the photo above.

On the Frontier and Xterra, this is the purple (PPL) wire of the distributor's 6-wire connector.

On the Quest and Villager, this wire is the white (WHT) wire of the distributor's 6-wire electrical connector.

On the QX-4 and Pathfinder, this is the black with white stripe (BLK/WHT) wire of the distributor's 6-wire connector.

If the camshaft position sensor is producing the 120° REF signal, then the LED light will flash ON and OFF.

If the camshaft position sensor is bad and not producing a 120° REF signal, the LED light will not flash (stay OFF) the whole time you're turning the engine by hand.

NOTE 1: The distributor must remain connected to its 6-wire electrical connector for this test to function. You'll need to use a wire piercing probe to connect the LED light to the signal wire. You can see an example of this tool here: Wire Piercing Probe

NOTE 2: This test requires that you turn the engine by hand (with the appropriate tools). Don't use the starter motor to test for the cam signal.

IMPORTANT: The fuel pump fuse must be removed before attempting this test. You can find the location of the fuel pump fuse here: Fue Pump Fuse Location.

OK, these are the test steps:

  1. 1

    Locate the wire labeled with the number 3, in the photo above.

  2. 2

    Connect the red lead of the LED light to the number 3 wire.

    IMPORTANT: The distributor must remain connected to its electrical connector.

  3. 3

    Connect the black lead of the LED light to the battery negative (-) terminal.

  4. 4

    Turn the key ON but don't crank the engine.

  5. 5

    The LED light should be off. If the LED light is ON at this point, the the camshaft position sensor is bad.

  6. 6

    Turn the engine by hand using the appropriate tools when you have everything set up.

    Remember, the fuel pump fuse must be removed before attempting this test.

  7. 7

    The LED light should flash ON and OFF as you turn the engine by hand.

Let's analyze your test result:

CASE 1: The LED light flashed ON and OFF as you turned the crankshaft pulley. This is the correct test result and confirms that the 120° REF signal is present.

The next step is to test the 1° POS signal. For this test go to: TEST 4: Testing The 1° POS Signal.

CASE 2: The LED light came ON as soon as turned the key ON and without turning the crankshaft pulley. This test result tells you that the camshaft position sensor is bad. Since the camshaft position sensor is not sold separately, you'll need to replace the distributor.

If you'd like to save some money, check out my distributor recommendations here: Where To Buy The Distributor And Save.

CASE 3: The LED light DID NOT flash ON and OFF as you turned the crankshaft pulley. This test result tells you that the camshaft position sensor is not producing the 120° REF signal.

You can conclude that the camshaft position sensor is bad if you have confirmed that:

  1. The ignition coil does not spark.
  2. The camshaft position sensor is getting 10 to 12 Volts.
  3. The camshaft position sensor has Ground.
  4. The camshaft position sensor is not creating a 120° REF signal.

The camshaft position sensor is not sold separately. You'll need to replace the distributor. If you'd like to save some money, check out my distributor recommendations here: Where To Buy The Distributor And Save.

Infiniti Vehicles:

  • QX-4 3.3L
    • 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000

Nissan Vehicle:

  • Frontier 3.3L
    • 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004
  • Pathfinder 3.3L
    • 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000
  • Quest 3.3L
    • 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002

Nissan Vehicles:

  • XTerra 3.3L
    • 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004

Mercury Vehicles:

  • Villager 3.3L
    • 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002