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Sensors priority & recommendations

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Just thought I'd ask for anyones opinions / recommendations on what sensors, inputs, outputs, devices etc & the priority of them, when starting out on a new build.

For instance- if wiring up a new loom to an engine one would expect the general/essential set up of:

- Injectors, Coils, CAM/CAS sensor, Fan, coolant temp, fuel pump, TPS

Then assume ?

- 02/Labmba, air temp, Knock

Then ?

- oil pressure, oil temp, fuel pressure

( I'm sure I've missed Many Many others..)

In order of priority for tuning, cost, engine reliability etc. What order would you put them all in (and any additional items)


Most ECU's require as a minimum to have the following sensors to run the engine.

Crank and Cam/s Position

Throttle Position (DBW Pedal and Servo position)

Manifold Absolute Pressure (MAP) Sensor

Inlet Air Temp

Coolant Temp

A lot of newer ECU's will also require Lambda to be installed to run correctly as well.

Desired sensors are ,

Knock (if supported by the ECU)

Fuel Pressure

Fuel Temp

Ethanol Content (if using Ethanol based fuels)

Oil Pressure

Oil Temp (this can be modeled off of coolant temp fairly accurately if needed)


Coolant Pressure can be useful if you are pushing the engine above it's normal range to see if the head gasket is retaining its seal.

Crankcase pressure for ring sealing


Fuel Pump/s

Ignition Coils


VVT solenoids


Not all cars have cooling fans, a lot of racecars use external fans in the pits and airflow only when moving. A cooling fan ceases to provide flow assistance above about 30~40kph as that is the airspeed out of most fans that I have dealt with, above that vehicle speed the movement generated airflow speed is higher than the fan speed.

Quite a few engines have ECU controlled thermostats as well, this requires a targeted ECU for that specific engine.

Great list from Stephen.

Beyond the basics a stock vehicle with your chosen engine would have, here are what I consider the next two levels:

wideband (if not already fitted)

oil pressure, temp, fuel pressure

Then additional items like crankcase and water pressure, EGT, exhaust pressure may be requested depending on the application and use.

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