What is the car Oxygen Sensor all about?
With every new model year, manufacturers and producers are adding more oxygen sensors to better equip and manage engine operation. Some high performance engines have an oxygen sensor for each cylinder as well as one for the rear of each catalytic convertor. The sensors are found either underneath the hood or underneath the vehicle. The oxygen sensors are linked (screwed) to the exhaust pipe, either in front or back of the catalytic converter. The front (upstream) sensors calculate the quantity of oxygen in the exhaust system. The reason of the front oxygen sensor(s) is to measure how rich or lean the gases are as the gases leave the combustion chamber. Depending upon whether the exhaust gas is lean (high in oxygen content) or rich (low in oxygen content), the quantity of fuel entering the engine is then adjusted by the engine management computer to try and kept an ideal mixture that generates the lowest emissions output from the catalytic convertor.
Rear (downstream) sensors are found behind the catalytic converter. The reason for the rear oxygen sensor(s) is to check the oxygen content of the exhaust gases exiting the catalytic convertor.
If one or more of the oxygen sensors get faulty, your vehicle may not pass the emissions test. If you drive your vehicle with a faulty oxygen sensor, you may get a poor gas mileage and it can spoil the catalytic converter.
When changing the oxygen sensor remember:
- Many oxygen sensors are spoilt by leaking oil or coolant. If that is the situation, the cause of that leak has to be identified and repaired, or else the replacement oxygen sensor will be spoils as well.
- New cars require specific oxygen sensors, and not the universal sensors that were common prior to 1996.
How it is performed:
- Scan the computer in the vehicle for codes.
- Check for vacuum leaks and holes in the exhaust system.
- Remove and change the oxygen sensor if it is bad.
- Inspect electrical connections.
- Inspect for proper operation of oxygen sensors.
- Clear diagnostic codes.
- Test drive vehicle.
Keeping up with the tune-ups. If check engine light comes on, do not drive the vehicle too long without getting it checked. If check engine light is flashing, pull over and get the vehicle towed to avoid costly repairs. Ask the mechanic to check the vacuum hoses and leaks in the exhaust system. If the vacuum hose or exhaust system is leaking, it will display an oxygen sensor fault code. Changing an oxygen sensor may not fix the problem.
What common symptoms shows you may need to change the Oxygen Sensor?
- Check Engine light is on.
- Car is getting poor gas mileage.
- Emission test fails.
How vital is replacing the oxygen sensor?
Your car has multiple oxygen sensors, and they all help the vehicle run optimally. The front sensors calculates how much oxygen is in the exhaust stream to calculate how rich or lean the gases leaving the gas chamber are. The rear sensors measure the oxygen content of the gases as they exit the catalytic converter. The oxygen sensors then transmit this information to your car’s electronic control unit, so that it can adjust as required. Because the vehicle depend on an ideal fuel-to-air ratio to operate optimally, the oxygen sensors are leaned on for engine performance. When your oxygen sensors fail your vehicle will run less smoothly, get worse mileage, and have worse emissions.