Here on Orozco’s Tires 101 Blog, we’ve covered several common car repairs. This week, we’re gonna talk about one of the most common car repairs – the oxygen sensor.
Your car’s oxygen sensor is an electronic device which measures and reports the proportion of oxygen to fuel in your car’s exhaust gases.
Most cars produced since 1980, and every new car, has an oxygen sensor as part of its emissions system. This tiny component is roughly the size of a spark plug and located in your car’s exhaust system. The oxygen sensor feeds data to your car’s ECU, and its purpose is to help your ECU run the car’s engine as efficiently as possible, and produce as little pollution as possible.
A gasoline engine needs oxygen to combust its fuel. There is a ratio of oxygen to gasoline which is “perfect”; 14.7:1 (although this may differ slightly by different types of fuels or engines). If there is too much gasoline in the mixture, then there will be fuel left over after combustion. This is known as running rich. The unburnt fuel will be released into the atmosphere as pollution, and you may notice a strong gasoline smell coming from your exhaust. If there is too little gasoline, then there will be excess oxygen left over after combustion, which is known as a lean mixture. A lean mixture tends to produce more nitrogen oxide pollutants, which can lead to your engine performing poorly or even getting damaged.
A gasoline engine needs oxygen to operate, otherwise the fuel will be unable to combust. There is a certain ratio of air to gasoline that is “perfect”, which is 14.7:1 (this number will differ by different types of fuels or engines). If there is too much gasoline in this mixture, then there will be fuel left over after combustion, and your engine will be running rich. The unburnt fuel will create pollution which is released into the atmosphere. If there is too little gasoline, then there will be excess oxygen after combustion, also known as a lean mixture. A lean mixture tends to produce more nitrogen-oxide pollutants, which can potentially cause poor performance and even damage your engine.
Your oxygen sensor detects and reports rich or lean mixtures to your ECU by measuring the amount of oxygen in your exhaust. The engine needs functioning oxygen sensors in order to determine how much oxygen is being taken in, which differs with the air’s oxygen density, which is affected by many factors such as the altitude, air temperature, engine temperature, air pressure, and more. When the oxygen sensor malfunctions, then your ECU no longer receives accurate data on the air to fuel ratio and has to guess, which leads to loss in your engine performance and efficiency. Your fuel economy may drop up to 40% due to a faulty oxygen sensor.
Most modern cars have two to four oxygen sensors, any of which can fail for several reasons, such as dirty oil or gasoline clogging them. New oxygen sensors should last around 100,000 miles, but can easily begin to malfunction sooner. In addition, in some cases a wire or hose leading to the oxygen sensor could fail, which makes it even harder to figure out exactly what is causing the problem.
If left untreated, a faulty oxygen sensor can easily cause more expensive and extensive problems, such as catalytic convertor failure. It is recommended to replace your oxygen sensor as soon as you notice any problems.
Here at Orozco’s Tires & Wheels in Long Beach, we can take care of any of your oxygen sensor problems and keep your car running efficiently and performing to the best of its abilities. If you think that you may be having problems with your car’s oxygen sensors, call Orozco’s Tires & Wheels today at (844)-676-9267. Our team of state certified, professionally trained mechanics can fix any of your oxygen sensor problems guaranteed!