The oxygen sensor of your car measures the amount of oxygen in the exhaust gasses that exit the engine. It sends real-time data about the amount of unburnt oxygen in the exhaust system to the engine’s computer to determine the correct air-to-fuel ratio for the car’s engine. The oxygen sensor is located in the car’s exhaust system, which allows the fuel injection and engine timing to work efficiently. This function is part of the vehicle’s emission control.
A bad or failing oxygen sensor presents a negative impact on engine performance and environmental emission. Luckily, there are early warning signals to let the driver know that the oxygen sensor is failing, which can prevent extensive damage.
Engine Misfires and Rough Idle
The tell-tale signs of a failing oxygen sensor include the engine misfiring or your vehicle running roughly or irregularly during idle. Additionally, there are other engine performance issues associated with a failing oxygen sensor such as stalling, hesitation, and loss of power.
If you observe these issues with your car’s performance, and your check engine light is illuminated, you can almost be sure that the problem is with your oxygen sensor.
Check Engine Light Is On
Check engine lights turn on for a variety of reasons, so the first thing you need to do is decipher the error code. An auto repair shop should be able to run diagnostics to determine what the error is. If the problem is with your oxygen sensor, you need to go to a mechanic as soon as possible.
If the mechanic determines that the problem is with your oxygen sensor, the problem can be fixed relatively easily by replacing the sensor. The cost of replacing the oxygen sensor is upwards of $175, depending on your car’s model plus the cost of labor.
Low Gas Mileage and the Smell of Rotten Eggs
A failing oxygen sensor negatively impacts the car’s fuel combustion and delivery systems. If it’s not working properly, the oxygen sensor will allow too much fuel to be injected into the engine, which will manifest in significantly lower gas mileage compared to the usual gas mileage of your car.
When there is excess fuel in the engine due to a bad or failing oxygen sensor, the engine will produce a sulfuric smell, similar to that of rotten eggs. You may also notice black smoke emanating from the car’s exhaust.
When your check engine light is on and you have all these symptoms, you can readily conclude that you have a problem with your oxygen sensor. The oxygen sensor of your car was not designed to work forever, and it needs to be replaced at some point during the life of your engine. Newer oxygen sensors are supposed to work efficiently for 60,000 to 90,000 miles, depending on the model of your car. If your mechanic determines that your car’s problem is due to a bad or failing oxygen sensor, the replacement shouldn’t take long and you’ll be ready to tackle many more miles on the road.