Symptoms of a Bad or Failing Oxygen Sensor

The oxygen sensor in your vehicle measures oxygen levels in the exhaust gases exiting the engine. This information is used by the Powertrain Control Module (PCM) to determine the correct air to fuel ratio for your engine in real time. The sensor is located in the exhaust system and allows the fuel injection and engine timing to work efficiently, which assists with emissions control. The oxygen sensor transmits the data to the vehicle’s PCM to maintain the optimal air to fuel ratio for your engine. A bad or failing oxygen sensor will have a negative impact on environmental emissions and engine performance, so there are a 3 things to watch out for before your oxygen sensor completely fails.

1. Check Engine Light comes on

The first line of defense is the Check Engine Light. The Check Engine Light will illuminate if you have a bad or failing oxygen sensor. As soon as this light comes on, contact a professional automotive technician for a Check Engine Light inspection. This light can come on for many different reasons, so it is important to have it looked at by a professional who can correctly diagnose the exact cause. If you have high a mileage vehicle, there's a good chance it has a bad oxygen sensor in need of replacement.

2. Bad gas mileage and rotten egg smell

If the oxygen sensor is going bad, the fuel-delivery and fuel-combustion systems will be thrown off. If a bad oxygen sensor disrupts the air to fuel ratio mixture, or too much fuel is injected into the engine, your vehicle's gas mileage will be reduced. This excess fuel in the engine can produce a sulfuric, rotten egg smell, and may even produce black smoke from the exhaust. If yourself filling up your gas tank more often, keep a record of how many gallons you fill up with and how often. If it is more than normal, have a professional mechanic check out your oxygen sensor.

3. Rough engine idle and misfires

As your oxygen sensor is going bad you may notice your vehicle is running rough, misfiring or running irregularly while idling. You may also observe other engine performance problems, such as loss of power, hesitation, or stalling. Since the oxygen sensor output helps control engine timing, combustion intervals, and the air to fuel ratio, a bad sensor can disrupt these engine functions, causing a rough or irregular engine idle and other engine-related issues.

When to replace the sensor

If your vehicle was manufactured within the past 15 years, the oxygen sensor should be replaced every 60,000 to 90,000 miles. This sensor does wear out and will need replacement over time. Replacement of a bad or failing oxygen sensor will reduce the level of emissions your vehicle puts into the atmosphere while keeping your engine running smoothly and properly. As soon as you notice your Check Engine Light, poor gas mileage, or an irregular engine idle, book an appointment to have your oxygen sensor replaced. This will ensure your vehicle is running smoothly, efficiently, and will help prolong the life of your engine.


Next Step

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MICHAEL

32 years of experience
183 reviews
MICHAEL
32 years of experience
Mercury Mountaineer - Exhaust and Emission System - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Did everything he could to track down a emissions code, after all recommended to replace a bad PCM.
Toyota Camry - Ignition Coil - Elkins Park, Pennsylvania
As usual thank you Michael for helping me keep this auto running.

Joe

13 years of experience
29 reviews
Joe
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Nissan Sentra - Crankshaft Position Sensor Replacement - Sacramento, California
Great job! Arrived on time and worked quickly.
Land Rover LR2 - Brake Pads Replacement (Front) - Sacramento, California
Great experience

Russell

26 years of experience
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Russell
26 years of experience
Acura RL - Brake Rotor/Disc Replacement (Rear) - San Ramon, California
very professional.
Chevrolet Impala - Oil Change - Emeryville, California
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Nicholas

20 years of experience
354 reviews
Nicholas
20 years of experience
Chevrolet K1500 - Clutch Slave Cylinder - Littleton, Colorado
Nicholass showed up right on time and was very professional. He replaced my hydraulic clutch line in the time he estimated and everything worked great. It was a much better experience than having it towed into the shop for the repairs. Nicholas is a very skilled and professional mechanic. I'd certainly request him again.

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