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What Are the Signs of a Faulty O2 Sensor?

The oxygen sensor talks directly to your vehicle’s main computer chip, which is called the engine control module. The O2 sensor is located in your tailpipe so it can determine how much oxygen is in your vehicle’s exhaust. Fairfax Auto Repair advises that the average lifespan of an oxygen sensor ranges from 60,000 miles to 90,000 miles. When the O2 sensor goes bad, you will notice the following signs.

Check Engine Warning Light

One of the first things that will happen is your vehicle’s check engine light will turn on on the dashboard. Unfortunately, the light will stay on until you replace the faulty O2 sensor. The reason why the check engine light comes on is two-fold. First, the sensor will send an error code to the engine control module. Second, the faulty sensor will trick the module into adjusting the air and fuel mixture in the combustion chamber.

Loss of Fuel Efficiency

This adjustment often results in a significant loss in your vehicle’s fuel economy. This is because the O2 sensor has sent incorrect data to the engine control module. Consequently, the module may send more fuel into the combustion chamber where it is burned away while you drive. Even if it sends more air into the chamber, your gas mileage will suffer because the engine is not operating efficiently.

Rotten Smells in the Exhaust

If there is too much fuel being processed through your vehicle’s exhaust system, your catalytic converter will get clogged. When this happens, the converter burns sulfur. This leads to the smell of rotten eggs in your vehicle’s exhaust and in the engine bay. This can also create a dangerous condition if the catalytic converter can no longer convert the carbon monoxide found in the exhaust.

Black Exhaust Smoke

Excess fuel in the combustion chamber will also cause your vehicle’s release black exhaust. This, again, is because the engine is burning away the fuel.

High Emissions Levels

You will also end up with high emissions in your vehicle’s exhaust due to the excess carbon. Anytime your engine burns fuel, it releases carbon. This carbon is routed through the exhaust system and out the tailpipe after it is been treated by the catalytic converter. A malfunctioning O2 sensor can increase your vehicle’s emissions levels.

Engine Performance Trouble

Finally, all of the symptoms will be accompanied by engine performance trouble. Your engine may stutter and struggle to accelerate, or it may surge and pick up speed unexpectedly. Either way, this is not normal.

Fairfax Auto Repair in Fairfax, VA, would be happy to take a look at your vehicle and test the oxygen sensor if you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above. Call us today to schedule an appointment.

Call Fairfax Auto Repair at 703-822-5911 for an appointment today!

Photo by Birdlkportfolio from Getty Images via Canva Pro
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