What is a tone ring?
A tone ring, also called a reluctor ring, is a notched or toothed ring that’s used in conjunction with a sensor to determine the number of revolutions or speed of revolutions.
Where are tone rings used?
A tone ring can be used in an engine to help the computer determine the exact location of the crankshaft and camshaft. In those cases, the tone ring will have a timing notch that’s used to indicate that the shaft has completed a full revolution.
Tone rings are also used in anti-lock brake systems (ABS) to detect wheel rotation rate. ABS systems do not need to know the exact location of the shaft, just the speed of rotation, so there are no notches on an ABS tone ring.
Tone rings can be internal or external
Crankshaft and camshaft tone rings can be located on the end of the shaft and exposed to external elements or contained inside the engine.
ABS tone rings can be mounted on the drive shaft, in the wheel hub or inside the wheel bearing
How a tone ring and sensor works
A passive sensor consists of a coil of wire wrapped around a magnet. The wiring harness has 2-conductors; one for a reference voltage and another for ground to the coil wrapped around the magnetic core. It is placed in close proximity to the tone wheel. As the steel or iron tone ring
rotates past the sensor, each tooth on the tone ring disturbs the magnetic field while also generating an A/C voltage in the coil. The voltage increases as the tooth approaches the magnet and drops to zero as the tooth aligns directly with the magnet. Then, as the tooth passes the magnet, it induces a negative voltage in the magnetic coil. A passive sensor can be tested with a DVOM meter for resistance and AC voltage
An active sensor still detects the movement of a magnet by either blocking the magnetic field with a rotating vane style tone ring or by detecting the change in North/South poles of the magnet. These sensors don’t generate voltage like passive sensors. Instead they require power to the semiconductor chips and report either a digital or analog signal.
Posted on by Rick Muscoplat