sensor flue gas (oxygen) on a white background

O2 Sensors 101: What They Are and Why They Go Bad

November 21, 2018 4:04 am Published by Leave your thoughts

Has your mechanic ever told you that you need a new O2 sensor in your vehicle? What exactly is this, anyway, and why does it go bad? Read on to get the full scoop on this type of auto repair in Madison, TN.

The fact is, this is a minor repair, but it has some major significance. Here are the basics.

What it is

The O2 sensor (oxygen sensor) is part of the vehicle’s exhaust system. It looks very similar to a spark plug, but performs a different function. Most modern vehicles have O2 sensors located before the catalytic converter and after the catalytic converter. Vehicles with dual exhaust have four O2 sensors.

This part monitors the amount of oxygen present in the exhaust of your vehicle. Based on this reading, the vehicle’s computer adjusts the fuel-oxygen mixture that is provided for the engine. The sensor tracks both the cleanliness of the exhaust and the converter’s efficiency.

Why it breaks

Over time, the parts of a car experience normal wear and tear. The same is true for the O2 sensor. On modern vehicles, the oxygen sensor can last up to 100,000 miles. However, most experience problems before this point. As you use your vehicle, the O2 sensor becomes coated with combustion byproducts. After a while, the lead, sulfur and fuel additives become caked on the sensor. This debris prohibits the sensor from sending the appropriate signal. At this point, it must be replaced.

A few things can speed up this O2 sensor failure. If you do not perform recommended maintenance on your car, such as air filter replacement and spark plug replacement, the O2 sensor can go bad more quickly because more dirt and grime are gathering on your emissions system. Additionally, using fuel that is not recommended for your car can also speed up O2 failure, as can using low-quality fuel.

To avoid more frequent auto repair in Madison, TN, keep up with the regular maintenance of your vehicle. Use recommended parts and high-quality products and services to keep your car running smoothly for as long as possible.

When it’s bad

How can you know whether you need a new O2 sensor? When these parts go bad, they trigger the check engine light. In fact, this failure is a common reason for the check engine light to turn on. Another sign that your O2 sensor is bad is a failed emissions test.

A problem with this sensor can also indicate additional issues, such as a failure with the catalytic converter. However, if the problem is simply a worn-out O2 sensor, this part is fairly simple and inexpensive to replace. Don’t hesitate to contact your regular provider of auto repair in Madison, TN to get this taken care of as soon as possible to ensure the proper functioning of your emissions system.

Breathe Easier

Is your check engine light on? Do you need a new O2 sensor? Breathe easier with reliable, affordable service from Rivergate Muffler & Auto Repair. We have the best in certified mechanics who offer great repairs on engines, transmissions, electrical systems and much more. Contact our team today!

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