There are so many sensors in your car. One of them is the Oxygen Sensor – which determines how much Oxygen you have in your fuel system and thus, determines if it is “healthy” or not.
An o2 sensor is not made to last forever but needs to be repaired at some point while using your car.
So how do you know your car’s o2 sensor needs repair?
In this article, you will get to know the signs which point to the fact that your O2 sensor needs repair and how to go about it.
What is an O2 Sensor?
The O2 sensor is an automobile part that measures the percentage of oxygen (O2) in the gas or liquid being analyzed. It’s among the elements that make up the emission control system. It measures the Oxygen content in exhaust gasses.
The O2 sensor is located in the exhaust stream where it aids the onboard computer in determining the ideal fuel efficiency.
This sensor measures the difference in O2 content between exhaust gasses and the surrounding air, not the air-fuel ratio. The engine control unit receives this information from it.
How the O2 Sensor Works
Your car exhaust system is equipped with at least two O2 sensors, one or more located further downstream of the catalytic converter.
The “pre-catalyst sensor” controls fuel delivery while the “downstream sensor” measures the efficiency of the catalytic converter.
Narrowband sensors and wideband sensors are the two large categories of oxygen sensors. The sensor contains a detecting device enclosed in a steel housing.
Oxygen molecules from the exhaust stream enter the sensor’s steel housing through a small hole or narrow slit and reach the sensing element, also known as the Nernst cell.
Oxygen from the air outside the exhaust pipe goes to the O2 sensor on the other side of the Nernst cell where it makes contact.
The difference in oxygen concentration between the outside air and the exhaust gas promotes the circulation of oxygen ions and causes stress.
If the combination is too rich and there is not enough oxygen in the exhaust, a signal is sent to the control module (ECU) to reduce the amount of fuel injected into the cylinder.
If the exhaust gas mixture is too lean, a signal is sent to increase the amount of fuel supplied to the engine.
Using too much fuel produces carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons. Nitrogen oxide pollution occurs when fuel is insufficient. A balanced mix is maintained thanks to the sensor signal.
A second O2 pump cell is included in the broadband O2 sensor to control the O2 level within the sensing element.
Effects of Poor Oxygenation on Engine Performance
Your engine performance decreases when the O2 sensor fails or provides a weak or rich reading. Some of the symptoms of this failure include:
- Black smoke from the exhaust due to an excessively rich fuel combination
- Engine power loss due to a lean issue code
What are the Signs of a Failing O2 Sensor?
A poor O2 sensor or a damaged lambda probe can harm an engine’s performance in several ways. You will discover in this article the signs of a faulty or damaged O2 sensor.
Any irregular or malfunctioning O2 sensor operation might result in a variety of abnormal engine symptoms because of the crucial role an O2 sensor plays in maintaining adequate air and fuel levels in a running engine.
1. Increased Fuel Consumption
The proportion of fuel to air that an engine burns to create power is called the air/fuel ratio, and it is controlled by oxygen sensors in vehicles.
Poor fuel performance can be caused by an O2 sensor malfunction that allows too much fuel to be injected into the air/fuel mixture.
2. Increased Tailpipe Emissions
A faulty O2 sensor might bring about an increase in tailpipe emissions.
In order to guarantee appropriate engine combustion, vehicle emissions, and performance, O2 sensors measure and alter the air/fuel mixture in an engine.
Lean air/fuel mixtures and lean or rich fuel injections can all be caused by a faulty O2 sensor, which can lead to improper or inefficient engine combustion and higher vehicle emissions.
3. Abnormal Idle
Optimizing engine performance depends on proper engine combustion. An automobile engine might idle extremely harshly due to a bad O2 sensor.
This occurs as a result of the engine’s low performance due to improper combustion.
4. Issues with the Engine
The explosions inside an engine’s cylinders (engine combustion) will be affected if a malfunctioning O2 sensor causes the air/fuel combination to become excessively lean or limited.
An engine will often misfire when the air/fuel combination is too lean (too much air, not enough fuel), especially when the engine is idle.
5. Engine Stuttering
Engine hesitation, which is an engine issue, is another sign of a faulty O2 sensor.
Engine misfires, on the other hand, can occur at idle as well as during acceleration, whereas engine hesitancy only occurs during acceleration.
Particularly during acceleration, a faulty O2 sensor might misinterpret the air/fuel ratio or the air/fuel needs of an engine, causing too little or too much air and/or fuel to reach the engine’s cylinders. An engine may stutter or hesitate as a result of this.
6. Check Engine Light
A Malfunctioning O2 sensor can cause the check engine light to be triggered. This means there is a problem with your vehicle’s emissions system.
How to Temporarily Fix a Damaged O2 Sensor
A temporary fix for a faulty O2 sensor is possible, but it is not advisable to use it for a long time. You can try cleaning the O2 sensor first or try to bypass the faulty O2 sensor with a dummy O2 sensor.
How to Clean an O2 Sensor
The heating element must be cleared of fouling (this is applicable when the heater of the O2 sensor malfunctions).
The sensitive ceramic component of the gadget, which is concealed beneath the protective cap, must be accessed to use this technique. This cap can be removed with the use of a tiny file by making small cuts around the sensor’s base.
Making tiny openings of around 5 mm is acceptable if it is not possible to completely remove the cap. You’ll also need about 100 CC of orthophosphoric acid or a rust converter for further cleaning.
You can take the following steps in carrying out the cleaning process:
- Pour 100ml of Orthophosphoric acid into a glass container
- Submerge the sensor’s ceramic element in the acid. Never completely submerge the sensor in acid! Then, give the acid about 20 minutes to dissolve the soot.
- Take out the sensor, give it a quick rinse under the faucet, and then let it air dry.
Since the surface can be manually handled with a brush, this method can occasionally take up to eight hours to clean a sensor.
This is because, if the soot cannot be removed the first time, the procedure must be repeated twice or more. A toothbrush can be used in place of a brush.
If you are unable to use this technique, you might attempt just burning the carbon deposits off (similar to the self-cleaning procedure).
You will need a gas burner in addition to the same orthophosphoric acid to clean the O2 sensor using the second approach (as an option, you can use a household gas stove).
To use the burner approach:
- Dip the O2 sensor’s delicate ceramic part into the acid
- Hold the probe’s clamp on the element’s opposite side, and bring it in the direction of the burner
A greenish salt will appear on the surface of the sensor when the acid on it boils. But at the same time, the sensor’s soot will be cleaned.
How to Fix a Dummy O2 Sensor
- Lift the vehicle’s body using a car jack at the necessary points
- Identify the malfunctioning oxygen sensor ( most of the time, found after the catalytic converter )
- Disconnect the plug from the malfunctioning oxygen sensor
- Remove the sensor from the vehicle ( unfasten the O2 sensor in a backward direction making use of an oxygen dismounting tool)
- Install the dummy oxygen sensor by turning it in a clockwise direction and connecting the wiring to the sensor.
Finally, turn on the engine and ensure the check engine light is off before taking a test drive.
FAQs on Temporary Fix for Bad O2 Sensor
Can a Misfire be Caused by an O2 Sensor
A misfire is brought on by a faulty O2 (O2) sensor delivering inaccurate data to the computer. The O2 sensor created a misfire, which resulted in ignition trouble codes, extra trouble codes, and misfire symptoms in the truck.
When an O2 Sensor Fails, Can You Still Drive?
You won’t necessarily be unable to drive if your O2 sensor is broken in and of itself. Of course, your car won’t control O2 levels efficiently, which can frequently cause other issues within a few days.
Your car’s slowness, inefficiency, and pollutant output will become apparent. Before the issue worsens and you are forced to make some pretty expensive repairs, you need to take your car in for maintenance right away.
How Much Does an O2 Sensor Repair Cost?
Without further information, there just isn’t a reasonable way to respond to this inquiry. The cost of repairs will vary depending on the circumstance and the vehicle because there are so many distinct parts involved.
How Often Do I Need to Replace my O2 Sensor?
Every 60,000 to 90,000 miles is generally recommended, as it is essential to your car’s system. There are signs to let you know when it is time to replace your oxygen sensor.
How Can an O2 Sensor be Cleaned the Quickest?
Since cleaning speed varies depending on the kind and state of the sensor, there is no definitive response to this issue. Usually, a solvent-cleansed sensor has to be rinsed with water after cleaning.
Can a Brake Cleaner be Used for O2 Sensors?
The quick answer is that an O2 sensor cannot be cleaned with brake cleaner. This is because brake cleaning includes chemicals and solvents that might harm the sensor.
Furthermore, surfaces that come into touch with the air intake or exhaust systems cannot be cleaned with brake cleaner.
Can a Carburetor Cleaner be Used to Clean an Oxygen Sensor?
O2 sensors shouldn’t be cleaned with carburetor cleaning since doing so might harm the sensor. Take the sensor in for repair; that would be a preferable course of action.
It is feasible to apply a temporary remedy for a malfunctioning oxygen sensor, as malfunctioning oxygen sensors can cause several issues, including low fuel economy and loss of power.
However, Replacing it is the first step in fixing these problems. Since this part is difficult to access and repair, you should schedule a replacement if your sensor needs repair.