What is an oxygen sensor? damaged oxygen sensor symptoms
Oxygen sensors were introduced by the Robert Bosch company in 1976 and quickly became one of the most important technologies responsible for reducing exhaust emissions. Today, these devices are present in a wide range of Asian, European and American cars and their job is to monitor the oxygen levels in the exhaust. Most cars were once equipped with one or two sensors, but since the Onboard Diagnostics II (OBD2 Scanner) tool was introduced sometime between 1995 and 1996, oxygen sensors have doubled in number. The additional sensors were then used to measure the efficiency of the catalytic converter.
The percentage of oxygen in the engine depends on many factors, such as engine temperature, barometric pressure, and altitude. Low oxygen levels result in an overly rich mixture, which means that a large amount of fuel remains after combustion. High oxygen levels, on the other hand, result in a lean mixture and not enough fuel in the system. Both results are far from desirable and the oxygen sensor knows this, immediately sending a signal to the engine control unit (ECU) to readjust the amount of fuel entering the engine.
A faulty oxygen sensor can cause damage to both your vehicle and the environment, as more pollutants escape through the exhaust when there is an incorrect mixture of fuel and oxygen in the engine. The catalytic converter can also suffer significant damage because it depends on a specific oxygen mixture to function properly.
How does it work? symptoms of a damaged oxygen sensor
There are different types of oxygen sensors and these include the classics that belong to older models and the more advanced ones known as air-fuel ratio or AFR sensors. Broadband and AFR sensors eliminate the lean wealth cycle that used to be the trademark of narrowband sensors. These modern sensors have the ability to detect the exact amount of oxygen in the exhaust in real time and without delay. This feature allows the engine control unit (ECU) to adjust the fuel supply quickly and efficiently regardless of the vehicle’s driving conditions.
The oxygen sensors are also equipped with a heating component that allows their core to quickly reach the optimal operating temperature, resulting in faster signals being sent to the ECU.
symptoms of oxygen sensor malfunction
Location is vital when it comes to measuring oxygen levels and that is why these sensors are placed in two different locations within the vehicle. The downstream oxygen sensors are located between the muffler and the catalytic converter, while the upstream sensors are located between the exhaust manifold and the converter. The latter are more sophisticated because their job is to send oxygen level signals to the ECU. The downstream converter has a completely different role and that is to measure the efficiency of the catalytic converter itself.
Related Post: Catalytic Converter Cleaner
how to know if the oxygen sensor is damaged
Knowing the symptoms of a faulty oxygen sensor will help you take the necessary steps to protect both your vehicle and the environment. Here are some of the most common signs that your oxygen sensor is faulty:
- Worrying check engine light
Most car owners are familiar with the orange light on their dashboard and bad news can be an omen. Since the sensors are connected directly to the engine control unit (ECU), this bright indicator light can be a symptom of a faulty oxygen sensor. Before you panic and rush your car to the mechanic, you need to stop and take a look at the gas cap. A broken, loose or damaged cover could be the cause of the bright engine light on the dash.
If your engine is suffering in terms of performance and requires more fuel than before, you may have a faulty oxygen sensor …