How To Test The Camshaft Position Sensor (1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 3.9L V6 Dodge Dakota And 1998, 1999 3.9L V6 Dodge Durango)

The camshaft position sensor is a key component of the ignition system on your 1998-2003 3.9L Dodge Dakota and 1998-1999 3.9L Dodge Durango.

This bad boy is located in the distributor and testing it is not hard since it can be tested with a simple multimeter.

With the help of this turorial you'll be able to easily find out if it's defective or not.

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

You can find this tutorial in Spanish here: Cómo Probar El Sensor De La Posición Del Árbol De Levas (1998-2003 3.9L Dodge Dakota) (at: autotecnico-online.com).

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

  1. 3.9L V6 Dodge Dakota: 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003.
  2. 3.9L V6 Dodge Durango: 1998, 1999.

IGNITION COIL TEST: The following tutorial will help you test the ignition coil: Testing The Ignition System (1998-2003 3.9L Dodge Dakota).

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

  1. Ignition System Circuit Diagram (1997-1999 3.9L Dodge Dakota).
  2. Ignition System Circuit Diagram (2000 3.9L Dodge Dakota).
  3. Ignition System Circuit Diagram (2001-2003 3.9L Dodge Dakota).

Symptoms Of A Bad Camshaft Position (CMP) Sensor

The fuel injection computer uses the camshaft position (CMP) sensor signal in combination with the crankshaft position (CKP) sensor signal to start injecting fuel and to start activating the ignition coil (among several things).

Since the 1998-2003 3.9L Dodge Dakota (and 1998-1999 3.9L Dodge Durango) are equipped with OBD II, when the camshaft position sensor fails, the fuel injection computer will usually (but not always) set a diagnostic trouble code. You may see the following trouble code stored in the fuel injection computer's memory:

  1. P0340: No Camshaft Signal At PCM (1996-1997 OBD II system).

If you have a code reader or a scan tool, check for codes. To test the actual camshaft position sensor, a scan tool is not required.

What I can assure you is that when the camshaft position sensor fails, then engine in your Dodge Dakota (or Durango) is not gonna' start due to a lack of spark and a lack of fuel injection.

Circuit Descriptions Of The Camshaft Position Sensor

How To Test The Camshaft Position Sensor (1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 3.9L V6 Dodge Dakota And 1998, 1999 3.9L V6 Dodge Durango)

The camshaft position sensor has 3 wires coming out of its electrical connector. One wire supplies power. One wire supplies Ground. And the other wire carries the CMP signal to the fuel injection computer.

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

1998-1999 Camshaft Position Sensor Connector
Pin Wire Color Description
1 Violet with white stripe (VIO/WHT) Power (5 Volts DC)
2 Black with light blue stripe (BLK/LT BLU) Sensor Ground
3 Gray with black stripe (GRY/BLK) CMP Signal
2000-2003 Camshaft Position Sensor Connector
Pin Wire Color Description
1 Orange (ORG) Power (5 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 Circuit Diagram (1997-1999 3.9L Dodge Dakota).
  2. Ignition System Circuit Diagram (2000 3.9L Dodge Dakota).
  3. Ignition System Circuit Diagram (2001-2003 3.9L Dodge Dakota).

TEST 1: Testing The Camshaft Position Signal

Testing The Camshaft Position Signal. How To Test The Camshaft Position Sensor (1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 3.9L V6 Dodge Dakota And 1998, 1999 3.9L V6 Dodge Durango)

To start off our camshaft position (CMP) sensor diagnostic, we're gonna' verify that the CMP sensor is creating an ON/OFF voltage signal as we crank the engine.

ON is when the CMP signal reads 5 Volts DC and OFF is when it reads 0 Volts DC (on the multimeter).

If the camshaft position sensor is working correctly, you're gonna' see the multimeter switching between 5 Volt and 0 Volts as you crank the engine.

If the camshaft position sensor is bad, it's gonna' stay stuck producing a single voltage value (usually 0 Volts) as you crank the engine.

We'll accomplish this by connecting our multimeter to the tan with yellow stripe (TAN/YEL) wire of the CMP sensor's engine wiring harness connector. In the photo above, the TAN/YEL wire is identified with the number 3.

Before we start let me tell you that your 3.9L Dodge Dakota comes equipped with a camshaft position sensor and a crankshaft position sensor. The camshaft position sensor is located in the distributor and the crankshaft position sensor is bolted onto the transmission bell housing. Both of the connectors are in the same location so take care to test the correct connector.

IMPORTANT: The camshaft position sensor must be connected to its engine harness connector for this test to work. You'll need to connect your multimeter test lead to a back probe or a wire piercing probe to read the CMP signal. 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.

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 multimeter read the indicated ON/OFF DC voltage. This is the correct and expected test result and tells you that the camshaft position sensor is functioning correctly.

Since the camshaft position sensor IS NOT defective, something else is causing your 3.9L V6 Dakota to not start.

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 Power.

Dodge Vehicles:

  • Dakota 3.9L
    • 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003
  • Durango 3.9L
    • 1998, 1999