How Can I Tell if My Oxygen Sensor Needs to Be Replaced?

Vehicle emissions are a hot-button issue. Whether you’re for or against regulations, your vehicle is held to an emissions standard regardless of your position. The oxygen sensor plays a crucial role in vehicle emissions. You’ll find the sensor on the exhaust manifold, and it measures the oxygen levels in your car, truck, or SUV’s exhaust. If the levels are off, you’ll have an exhaust and air/fuel mixture problem. Here are signs it’s time to replace your oxygen sensor.

Check Engine Warning

One of the primary reasons why your vehicle’s check engine light comes on is because there’s something wrong with the exhaust system and a bad oxygen sensor will turn on that dashboard warning light right away. The light won’t turn off until you replace the oxygen sensor, and it’s best to replace the bad sensor because a lean or rich air/fuel mixture can cause other damage to your engine. For example, too much gasoline in the combustion chamber can create dangerous conditions and/or flood the engine.

Reduced Gas Mileage

Vehicle emissions play an important role in your automobile’s gas mileage and a failing oxygen sensor can create the condition of a rich fuel mixture. A rich fuel mixture means there is more gasoline in the air/fuel mixture than air, and this will directly affect your gas mileage. Unfortunately, it’s rare that an oxygen sensor just – poof – goes bad. Rather, the decrease in gas mileage will happen over time, so keep track of your vehicle’s fuel consumption each time you fill the tank.

Rough-Sounding Engine

Finally, if there is something wrong with your vehicle’s air/fuel mixture or the exhaust system you might hear it in the form of rough idling. As mentioned above, the air/fuel mixture can affect engine performance. If the oxygen sensor is dying, it will affect combustion and timing. You’ll notice these effects in how your engine sounds and handles. The idle will sputter and you may find that your automobile’s engine hesitates when you press down on the accelerator.

Additional Considerations

If your vehicle has high mileage, such as 100,000 miles or more, plan to have the oxygen sensor replaced. On average, this part will last 100,000 miles and fail after this mileage milestone is reached. Once the sensor goes bad, your vehicle won’t pass an emissions test if your state requires you to get one for your vehicle’s registration. If you drive an older car, truck, or SUV that has a lot of miles under its belt, have your oxygen sensor tested to ensure it’s still working properly.

Bring your vehicle into Mechanic One Auto Repair & European and we’ll test your oxygen sensor. If necessary, we’ll replace it.


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