Your car is guzzling gas like crazy, your Check Engine light is on, and is that smoke coming from your exhaust? One of your O2 (oxygen) sensors—tiny devices the size of spark plugs that gauge how much oxygen is exiting your engine through the exhaust—might be the issue. Your engine’s ability to distinguish between the amount of fuel and air inside it is compromised when these components become dirty or broken, which can result in a number of different issues.
Well, in this article, I’ll be discussing the most common symptoms of a bad oxygen sensor. So let’s get to it!
What are the Symptoms of a Bad Oxygen Sensor?
Low Fuel Economy
Have your gas expenses increased or have you been filling up the tank more frequently than usual? Your O2 sensors may be to blame. The mixture may become “rich” (fuel-heavy) if they are unable to keep track of the air-to-fuel ratio in your combustion cylinders, which would indicate that your engine is utilizing more fuel than it should.
Check Engine Light Is On
Although a malfunctioning O2 sensor is one of the most frequent causes of a check engine light, it can also signify a variety of other issues. Make an appointment for an engine diagnostic service at your neighborhood Firestone Complete Auto Care as soon as the check engine light illuminates on your dashboard. If your car has a high mileage, the oxygen sensor is probably to fault.
Smells of Sulfur or Gas from The Exhaust
When you turn on your automobile or stand outside of it while it is idling, take note of any odors you detect, such as sulfur, a rotten egg smell, or just plain gasoline. This is the surplus fuel burning off in the engine, and it may be a sign that your oxygen sensors are not picking up on the shortage of air in the combustion cylinders.
Engine Performance Problems
Can rough idle and engine power loss be attributed to a malfunctioning O2 sensor? Of course. Additionally, you can experience stalling, sluggish acceleration, and engine misfires. All kinds of crucial engine functions, such as engine timing, combustion intervals, and air-fuel ratio, are disrupted by faulty oxygen sensors.
Because it lacks the necessary gasoline and power to operate properly, the engine may misfire when the ignition is turned on or shut down entirely. This usually only occurs if you’ve been driving for a while with faulty oxygen sensors, and the engine has been harmed as a result.
Exhaust Emitting Black Smoke
Your engine burns fuel by using oxygen. When there is insufficient fuel, the combusting gasoline emits black smoke through the exhaust pipe. When the O2 sensor isn’t working properly, the engine control module isn’t informed to change the air-to-gasoline ratio, therefore the engine keeps using too much fuel.
Failure of the Catalytic Converter
Your catalytic converter transforms harmful exhaust emissions produced by engine combustion into less harmful ones. If your oxygen sensors aren’t working, they might instantly malfunction and allow dangerous compounds to billow out of your exhaust pipes because they require a precise amount of air to function properly. Your car could fail an emissions test due to a defective catalytic converter.
Unusual Pinging or Knocking Noise
The air-fuel ratio may run lean when your O2 sensors are unable to monitor it (more air than fuel). As a result, the combustion chamber accumulates carbon, which can sound pinging, knocking, or rattling (especially when the ignition is turned on).
Car Idles Rough
An idle engine’s RPM rate is typically less than 1,000. However, if there is too much gasoline in the engine as a result of defective oxygen sensors, the RPM may increase to 2,000 or even 3,000. Though this isn’t a clear indication of a faulty O2 sensor, your engine may have a rough idling issue for a variety of reasons.
Emissions Levels to High
Your oxygen sensors are a crucial part of your emission control system; if you don’t have them, your exhaust will probably develop a significant imbalance of pollutants. If you fail an emissions test that is required, ask your technician to do a diagnostic test. There are a number of potential causes for your emissions to be off, but one of the first things to check is your O2 sensors.
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In conclusion, a damaged oxygen sensor can significantly affect a car’s efficiency and performance. Reduced fuel efficiency, higher emissions, and subpar engine performance might all result from an oxygen sensor that isn’t working properly. For your own advantage as well as to lessen your vehicle’s influence on the environment, it’s essential to fix a malfunctioning oxygen sensor right away.
If this problem is ignored, fuel costs may grow, there may be engine damage, and pollution levels may rise. In order to restore your vehicle’s optimal operation and lessen its environmental impact, it is wise to have your oxygen sensor examined and replaced by a qualified mechanic if you suspect it is defective.