Oxygen sensor, also known as lambda sensor, is a device used for measuring the oxygen proportion in the liquid or gas which is being tested. These sensors are small electronic devices in cars and other automobiles to check and measure the fuel mixture in vehicles. It has a very essential role to play in the smooth functioning and efficient performance of the car. There are many interesting facts that you must be aware of, and this article we will be concentrating on the same, mainly focusing on the symptoms indicating a problem with your oxygen sensors.
Nowadays, these sensors, also known as O2 sensors, are mostly used in cars. Cars have an automated system to measure the air - fuel ratio requirement to utilize or burn fuel within the engine for the complete process of combustion. This is done with the help of a look-up table. This automated system is called the engine management computer. The ideal fuel - air ratio is 1:14.7. Engine management computer finds out the apt fuel - air ratio, and O2 sensor assists it to do so. If the exhausted gas is leaning with oxygen in excess, or has unburnt fuel vapor in large quantities, O2 sensor can easily sense it. The power of the car is increased due to increased mixture of fuel and air, but simultaneously it reduces the fuel economy of the car. This results in increased emission of the hydrocarbon. It sometimes also overheats the catalytic converter. This might add to the car's fuel efficiency, but it damages the engine because of the excessive nitrogen oxide emission.
Oxygen sensors have a limited life. In unheated conditions they can last for 30,000 to 50,000 miles, whereas, in heated conditions, it can last up to 100,000 miles. Accumulation of carbon on the sensor's ceramic element is the cause for its failure. The use of unleaded fuel and fuel accumulation on the silicone are also responsible for the problems. All these problems together damage the catalytic converter. The testing must be done regularly to fix these problematic symptoms.
Symptoms of a Bad Oxygen Sensor
Lack of proper signal responsible for fuel - air mixture and irregular fuel emissions are among the early signs. Some of the problems associated with the sensors are listed as follows.
- Poor Gas Mileage: A sudden and a drastic decrease in the mileage of the vehicle is one of the symptoms. In layman's words, the fuel consumption of the vehicle increases and also results in irregular mixture of fuel and air.
- Engine Pinging: This is also another severe O2 sensor symptom that triggers the combustion gases to ignite at wrong time.
- Increased Fuel Emission: As we know that fuel - air mixture is determined by the oxygen sensors, but an inefficient one fails to measure the ratio accurately, resulting in excessive fuel emission.
- Engine Missing: Engine missing is a symptom which becomes more prominent when the vehicle is running slow or when it is not running at all.
- Rough Idle: Problems in O2 sensors hinders the smooth running of a vehicle. Installation of defective sensor causes rough engine idle.