Did you know that fifty percent of Americans live in areas that exceed national air quality standards? A large percentage of which comes from automotive exhaust emissions. A majority of Americans are concerned about this since we all breathe the same air! Don’t worry too much, though, there are solutions to increase your car’s efficiency while minimizing your impact.
Oxygen sensors were introduced 40 years ago by Bosch. In fact, oxygen sensors have been a standard part of passenger cars and light trucks since 1980. Although O2 sensors have been in used for this long, most people are unaware that they have one or more of these devices on their vehicle. More often than not, people become aware of this only when they get a Check Engine light and have the codes checked, or if they have failed an emissions test required in their area.
What does an oxygen sensor do?
The O2 sensor monitors the oxygen level in the exhaust. It then sends a signal to the engine computer (ECU) reporting the amount of unburned oxygen. Too little or too much oxygen means the fuel is not being used efficiently. And an inefficiently running car both wastes fuel and puts more pollution into the air.
Why change an oxygen sensor?
Unlike a good cheese, aging O2 sensors do not get better with age. Over time, contaminants from normal combustion and oil ash pile up on the sensing element. This affects the ability to quickly detect changes in the air/fuel mixture, which means the sensors slow down and get sluggish.
This is why changing the O2 sensors according to the manufacturer suggested intervals is a good idea. It not only ensures the vehicle will pass an emissions test, it also helps prevent possible catalytic converter damage and lower fuel efficiency. On top of this, it helps to limit polluting everyone’s major source of life – air.
What are some signs of a faulty oxygen sensor?
If your O2 sensor is on its way out, you may experience some of the following symptoms:
- Engine “pinging”- Pinging is caused when the timing of fuel ignition is off, which results in a pinging noise.
- Poor fuel mileage- When an O2 sensor is bad, the fuel to oxygen ratio is incorrect which results in poor fuel economy.
- Rough idle or engine “missing”- when the O2 sensor isn’t properly regulating the air/fuel mixture, the timing can be thrown off resulting in a rough idle, or poorly running vehicle at lower speeds.
When to change it?
As they say, prevention is better than cure. That goes the same with O2 sensors. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms above, you may want to get your oxygen sensors checked. In addition, it’s always best to follow your vehicle or parts manufacturers recommendations.
To sum it all up, the oxygen sensor plays a huge part ensuring vehicles comply with national, as well as local air quality standards. Not only is that good for the air we breathe, it’ll help to improve your fuel economy which can save you money.
If you aren’t sure your O2 sensors are running in tip top shape, give Leslie a call at 541-757-7042 and he’ll take care of any concerns you may have. And don’t forget, if you believe you have possible safety issues, Bob’s Auto Repair and Towing can get you and your car to the shop safely and professionally.