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Camshaft Reference Circuit not Detected


Roger Frazee
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Today the engine in my '89 8-valve began cutting out intermittently, especially when idling. I have an error code #54, camshaft reference circuit not detected.

Any suggestions on a fix for this new problem?

If you're lucky the connectors are a little crusty inside and re-seating the plug connects going to the hal pickup in the distributor will solve your problem.

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Today the engine in my '89 8-valve began cutting out intermittently, especially when idling. I have an error code #54, camshaft reference circuit not detected.

Any suggestions on a fix for this new problem?

Possible Reasons for Chrysler Fault Code 54:

On turbocharged cars there are two flat cables with three conductors. These come out of the distributor where the HEP is located. Ensure that these connectors are connected properly and check the cables as they cross under the distributor cap. Over time these can fail due to repeated cap replacement. This failure can present as broken cables.

When replacing the HEP be sure to tie up the cables to the shroud which covers the distributor so they don’t swing around causing another failure. Also be sure to check the path under the distributor cap to insure they are not pinched.

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  • 3 weeks later...

OK, I replaced the distributor pickup, along with the rotor, cap, and sparkplug / coil wires. No joy. The engine still cuts out intermittently. When it misses, the tach drops toward zero, and bounces back when the engine recovers. I am now suspicious of the connections on the 60-way connector, at the single module engine controller.

Now for the dumb question: where is that 60-way connector located? Also, am I overlooking something simple?

Thanks for your help.

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OK, I replaced the distributor pickup, along with the rotor, cap, and sparkplug / coil wires. No joy. The engine still cuts out intermittently. When it misses, the tach drops toward zero, and bounces back when the engine recovers. I am now suspicious of the connections on the 60-way connector, at the single module engine controller.

Now for the dumb question: where is that 60-way connector located? Also, am I overlooking something simple?

Thanks for your help.

Obviously you didn't get lucky with connectors at the distributor and where the other end is not a dumb question. It's under the hood, drivers side front of fender near air intake tube. Now for a dumb question, have you cleared codes and are you still getting code 54?

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Did you check the plate the pickup mounts to? Make sure it is not lifting at one of the rivets that holds it down, I have seen reman dizzies that were not checked for this and all it does is let the plate move the pickup up and down/side to side changing your timing.

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Did you check the plate the pickup mounts to? Make sure it is not lifting at one of the rivets that holds it down, I have seen reman dizzies that were not checked for this and all it does is let the plate move the pickup up and down/side to side changing your timing.

Thanks Ghostymosty. Good point. The pickup does sit firmly on the base of the distributor.

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Obviously you didn't get lucky with connectors at the distributor and where the other end is not a dumb question. It's under the hood, drivers side front of fender near air intake tube. Now for a dumb question, have you cleared codes and are you still getting code 54?

I was able to clear the code 54, after reseating the sixty-way connector. Now I'm getting a code 47, low battery voltage, and the intermittent engine miss is still there. I have a charger on the battery now, and will clean up the engine ground connection before I dig back into the problem this evening.

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That clue tells me you may just have old non-conductive battery cables that need replacing, and a bullet connection from the positive that may not be very good anymore. A cell going bad in the battery is also a possibility.

OK. Here's where I am. I charged the battery, replaced the negative cable, replaced the positive battery terminal. All fault codes are gone. The engine is still cutting out momentarily every 2 - 4 seconds. The tach drops toward zero each time the engine misses.

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Bill, the hall effect sensor is a BWD. And the first replacement was bad out of the box. I'm encouraged, though, now that I am no longer getting an error 54.

Thanks to all for your help. I'll attack the throttle body when I get home next week. As for now, I'm headed for Hershey!

Edited by DamnTheTorpedo (see edit history)
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Bill, the hall effect sensor is a BWD. And the first replacement was bad out of the box. I'm encouraged, though, now that I am no longer getting an error 54.

Thanks to all for your help. I'll attack the throttle body when I get home next week. As for now, I'm headed for Hershey!

Nice thing about bad out of the box hall is that they usually flat darn don't work, none of this intermittent flaky stuff.

While you're out in Hershey could you keep your eyes open for 68 Mercury Monterey or Park Lane front turn signal lenses, need a left one and would like both for a matching set. Figure you must have some old Ford in you blood to be going to Hershey and if you should find me someone with a set to sell, I will send you a finders fee in the form of old Ford Factory truck cuff-links and matching tie clip, or if you're a Lincoln guy the factory print Lincoln Motor car Golden Anniversary Book.

Have a great trip

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Nice thing about bad out of the box hall is that they usually flat darn don't work, none of this intermittent flaky stuff.

While you're out in Hershey could you keep your eyes open for 68 Mercury Monterey or Park Lane front turn signal lenses, need a left one and would like both for a matching set. Figure you must have some old Ford in you blood to be going to Hershey and if you should find me someone with a set to sell, I will send you a finders fee in the form of old Ford Factory truck cuff-links and matching tie clip, or if you're a Lincoln guy the factory print Lincoln Motor car Golden Anniversary Book.

Have a great trip

Thanks Digger. Although there are no Fords in my garage at this time, I like any piece of machinery that makes funny noises and smells like gas. I will keep an eye out for your '68 Merc turn signal lenses.

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  • 2 weeks later...
Well, I didn't find Digger's turn signal lenses, but I did, finally, find the problem with my TC. A test drive with the headlights on revealed the problem. Every time the engine cut out, the headlights dimmed. A new alternator solved the problem. Go figure.

I did know that a weak voltage regulator can cause your cruse control to to shut down and give you a cooling fan fault code when the cooling fan kicks in and the cruse is on, it can even give you a false ABS light if the fan kicks in while breaking; I didn't know that the Chrysler turbo engine controller was wired voltage sensitive, but it makes sense to me.

The turn signal lenses were a long shot and thanks for looking.

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