Most modern vehicles on the road will have as many as four oxygen (O2) sensors as part of the vehicle's emissions system. They monitor the flow of oxygen into the engine, as well as the levels of oxygen and other gases as they are expelled from the engine and through the exhaust system. These vehicle sensors are very sensitive pieces of equipment designed to detect the smallest changes in gases.
You want your oxygen sensors to be functioning properly and doing what they are designed to do. This way, you can can get warnings if something is wrong and your car's computer can consistently monitor and adjust certain things while you drive. However, oxygen sensors can often fail and give false readings, so they will need to be replaced periodically to ensure everything is working correctly.
Here are a few ways to know if you might have a failing O2 sensor in your vehicle, according to Simard Automotive in Fairbanks, AK:
1. Check Engine Light
One of the most common reasons why your check engine light is on is because one of the oxygen sensors was tripped. It is detecting something wrong. You will want to get diagnostic testing done along with a physical inspection of the vehicle to determine the source of the problem. The source may be a failing O2 sensor or it could actually be something wrong with the engine, transmission or exhaust system.
2. Loss of MPG
Your vehicle's exhaust system greatly impacts the overall fuel efficiency. When there is an exhaust problem or a damaged oxygen sensor that is not providing correct information to the car's computer, it will definitely start to affect the performance of the engine and this will ultimately lead to poor gas mileage. A loss of MPG can be the result of a number of issues, however, so you'll want to have the vehicle looked at to determine the exact problem at hand.
3. Misfires and Rough Idling
If your vehicle is idling roughly or you notice the engine misfiring when you start it up or while driving, then it could be a failing oxygen sensor. It could also be something like failing spark plugs, clogged fuel injectors, an exhaust leak or a worn fuel filter.
4. Exhaust Leak
Speaking of exhaust leaks, this is another sign of a failing oxygen sensor or some other significant exhaust system problem. When exhaust gases leak, it is really bad for the environment and also your health as a driver if you are breathing them in. An exhaust leak is also extremely bad for your engine. At the first sign of any exhaust leak (dark smoke, strong exhaust fume smells or a sputtering engine), you will want to have your vehicle looked at by an automotive expert as soon as possible.
If you are in the Fairbanks area and think you have a failing oxygen sensor or another potential exhaust system issue, call Simard Automotive today at (855) 690-0889 (Aeronca Avenue shop) or (855) 639-5001 (Gaffney Road shop). Or, you can easily book your service appointment online.