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If not taken care of in proper time, your oxygen sensor can cause other other problems like premature failure of your catalytic converter, increasing the total you will spend with the next repair. With the prices of gas as high as they are, keeping your oxygen sensor up to date, or replacing it when it's time, will save you hundreds of dollars each year just in fuel costs.
The typical time to replace an oxygen sensor for vehicles made from the late mid 1970s to about 1990 is about every 30,000 to 45,000 miles. For the newer makes and models, get your oxygen sensor checked about every 80,000 to 100,000 miles. If your check engine light comes on, have your mechanic check the oxygen sensors when you take your car in.
When an oxygen sensor has prematurely failed, it can greatly diminish a vehicle's ability to maintain top fuel efficiency. Your vehicle may become sluggish, or even seem as though it were missing or misfiring. Some automotive technicians will diagnose a vehicle's problems simply because the vehicle did not give the code needed to supply the right information.
Oxygen sensors were first introduced in the mid 1970s and by the 1980s, all vehicles were equipped with at least one oxygen sensor. Today, it's not uncommon for a vehicle to have four oxygen sensors. The location of an oxygen sensor plays a huge role in its ability to correctly send signals to the computer. Usually an oxygen sensor is before the catalytic converter and the muffler, this way the oxygen sensor can get an accurate reading of how much unburned oxygen is in the exhaust gases. For some vehicles, there are oxygen sensors after the catalytic converter, although these oxygen sensors have a small role in the vehicles performance. For vehicles with multiple oxygen sensors, this increases the vehicle's chances to perform and have less harmful emissions. With modified exhaust systems, sometimes the oxygen sensor or sensors will need to be replaced with upgraded oxygen sensors.
The oxygen sensor helps maintain your vehicles harmful emissions. It does not restrict the exhaust flow in any way.
Oxygen sensors are typically mounted in front of your catalytic converter/converters and muffler/mufflers so that the oxygen sensor can read the amount of oxygen in the exhaust. From there, a signal is sent to the computer that makes the proper air/fuel mix, or at least makes adjustments to correct the air/fuel mix. There are heated sensors and non-heated sensors -- it's good to know which one you have when you're ready for oxygen sensor replacement. For vehicles built after 1999, you'll find multiple oxygen sensors, one before the converter and one after the converter.
By completing scheduled maintenance on your truck, car or SUV, you will find your vehicle is using less fuel, and saving money on fuel is always a plus. One of the best ways to decrease fuel consumption is to keep your vehicle maintained. Routine oil changes, air filter changes or cleanings, radiator maintenance, and using common sense when using additives in your vehicle, all aid in keep your vehicle performing well.
Before you start any work or repairs on an exhaust system, be sure that exhaust has cooled, and have all your tools on hand. You will need a wrench that is either made for oxygen sensor removal or a wrench that fits the oxygen sensor, and needle nose pliers. Depending on your vehicle's make and model, there could be as many as four oxygen sensors. Getting to an oxygen sensor can be difficult so before you start, make sure you can access each one.
If you've ever cracked open the owner's manual of your car, you'll find there are 'recommended intervals' for certain maintenance actions. The basics include:
• Rotating tires
• Repacking wheel bearings
• Replacing oxygen sensors.
An oxygen sensor tells the fuel injection system how much unburned oxygen remains in the exhaust. By knowing this ratio, the car can richen or lean out the mixture depending on ambient humidity, throttle position, speed, etc.
If your oxygen sensor goes south, your car suddenly has no way to meter fuel and it goes into 'limp home' mode. To avoid getting stranded or embarrassed, make sure you replace your oxygen sensor with a high end sensor, like a bosch oxygen sensor, when the manual calls for it.
So what exactly does an oxygen sensor do? The answer is in the name; An oxygen sensor measures the amount of unburned oxygen in the exhaust system left after combustion in the engine's cylinders. Based on the amount of Oxygen present, the sensor genrates a voltage which is read by the engine's fuel management system. Too much residual O2 in the exhaust, and the car's computer releases more fuel for the next combustion cycle; too little O2, and the opposite happens. This balancing act happens many times every second to maitain the optimal fuel to air ratio of 14.7 : 1. This ratio has been found to produce the most efficient combustion, and therefore, the most power.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|