The camshaft sensor is the car computer (PCM) way of knowing when to activate the fuel injectors for each cylinder at the correct time. So, yes, it is critical to have it installed correctly.
The sensor comes in two parts: The (usually black) plastic cover - which is the actual sensor, and the aluminum housing which has a shaft inside which is causing the squeek you hear.
The plastic sensor part is not that critical. It fits on only one way with (I think) two 5-mm screws. Or they might be 5.5 mm.
As for the aluminum portion: Remove the plastic black sensor portion and turn the crankshaft harmonic balancer pulley with a breaker bar until you have the position of the half-moon at a location you can remember and be comfortable with. "Half-Moon". You'll see what I mean when you remove the plastic sensor portion.
Now the tricky part: Mark the aluminum casing with a chisel (give it a punch mark) on either edge of the half moon. This way, you have a reference mark. Be very careful to note the exact position of the aluminum casing (rotational position in reference to the engine block). Sometimes, there will be factory-mold markings (such as when the factory casts them from the mold halves, there will be a line down the edge of the aluminum part. These are helpful for matching up the position in reference to the engine block.
Find the screw which holds down the aluminum synchronizer shaft/casing. Pull straight up on the synchronizer, note the direction of the half-moon as it turns in relation to how far you pull it up.
Verify your match-marks, side-by-side with the new part, and put match-marks on the new part. Install the new synchronizer in reverse order of removal. As the synchronizer seats itself, you'll notice the half-moon turning. Use trial and error to get the half-moon and casing in the exact position as the old piece. DO NOT TURN THE CRANKSHAFT while the synchronizer is outside. This would immediately throw off the timing.
If you do lose timing, I can explain an easy way (no fancy factory tools needed) to get the cam sensor on "time" again.
During this procedure, by the way, it is irrelivant whether Cyl #1 is on TDC or whatever. The goal is to get the half-moon in a comfortable position (something which can be remembered). As long as the new part goes in exact as the old part without moving the crank, you'll be fine.
Wednesday, March 18th, 2009 AT 6:57 PM