What Happens When the Oxygen Sensor Goes Bad?

In older automobiles, the oxygen sensor lasts about 30,000 miles. In newer automobiles, you can expect to get about 100,000 miles out of the sensor. Also called the O2 sensor, Oxford Automotive advises that many things can go wrong with your automobile when the oxygen sensor goes bad. You may not experience all of the symptoms listed below, but even just one is an indication that you have a faulty O2 sensor. We can replace the sensor when it needs it, so don’t worry.

Check Engine Warning

Generally, one of the first things that happens when the O2 sensor malfunctions is your check engine light comes on. This is because the O2 sensor doesn’t have a light of its own. When it goes bad, it sends an error code to the main computer chip and the chip turns on the check engine warning light.

Black Engine Exhaust

The oxygen sensor tracks the oxygen levels in your vehicle’s exhaust. If it reports incorrect data, the main computer chip may add excess fuel to the combustion chamber. When this happens, the engine burns the excess fuel, and, as a consequence, you will see black exhaust flowing out of the tailpipe.

Fuel Economy Reduction

This will also reduce your fuel economy significantly. You will find that your vehicle is not getting the gas mileage it normally gets with the malfunctioning O2 sensor. Unfortunately, you will head to the service station more often until you get the faulty oxygen sensor replaced.

Increased Emissions

Excess fuel means excess hydrocarbons in your vehicle’s exhaust. Unfortunately, when the oxygen sensor goes bad, your vehicle will fail an emissions test. There is no way to avoid this, especially if your check engine light is on. An automobile cannot pass an emissions test with a lit check engine light.

Performance Trouble

As if you’re vehicle wasn’t experiencing enough problems already, the dying O2 sensor can also indirectly cause engine performance problems. These problems might be that your engine surges sporadically or sputters constantly. Your acceleration might also lag.

Rotten Egg Exhaust Odor

Finally, if you smell rotten eggs in your vehicle’s exhaust, the oxygen sensor has indirectly caused the catalytic converter to fail. This is due to the excess hydrocarbons in your vehicle’s exhaust. The catalytic converter will become clogged with these hydrocarbons and begin to malfunction.

Oxford Automotive in Oxford, PA, is here for all of your automotive service and repair needs, so call us today if you suspect your oxygen sensor is bad.

Photo by Birdlkportfolio from Getty Images via Canva Pro

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