The oxygen sensor is also called the O2 sensor. This specific sensor is located at the beginning of your car, truck, or utility vehicle’s tailpipe. The average lifespan of an oxygen sensor ranges from 60,000 miles to 90,000 miles, although many sensors last over 100,000 miles. United Auto Care is going to list the signs of a faulty oxygen sensor below so you know what to look for when you reach these mileage milestones.
What the oxygen sensor does is report the oxygen levels in the exhaust to the engine control module. The module uses this information to adjust the fuel mixture in the combustion chamber. If the O2 sensor is malfunctioning, the module may make unnecessary adjustments and you will end up with engine performance issues. Specifically, your engine may stutter at high speeds or surge.
Fuel Efficiency Loss
You will also notice that your automobile does not get the gas mileage it normally gets. Any time the fuel mixture is out of balance, the engine does not run efficiently. When this happens, it burns through the gasoline or diesel fuel faster than it normally would. Consequently, you will blow through a full tank of gas faster than you normally would.
High Vehicle Emissions
Oftentimes, the malfunctioning oxygen sensor increases your vehicle’s emissions indirectly. In this case, the engine control module has added fuel to the combustion chamber creating a rich fuel mixture. As the engine burns away the fuel, excess hydrocarbons are released through your vehicle’s exhaust. This causes your vehicle emissions to be higher than normal.
Rotten Egg Smell
A faulty O2 sensor can also create problems with your vehicle’s catalytic converter. The rich fuel mixture can clog the catalytic converter and damage it. When this happens, you may notice that your vehicle’s exhaust or engine smells like rotten eggs. This odor is burning sulfur.
Black Engine Exhaust
Too much fuel can also create black exhaust. You may notice puffs of black exhaust smoke coming out of your tailpipe or a steady flow. Obviously, this is not normal and needs to be addressed as soon as possible. Even diesel engines should not have a steady flow of black exhaust.
Check Engine Light
Finally, when the oxygen sensor goes bad, it will notify the engine control module by producing an error. When this happens, the module eliminates your dashboard’s check engine light.
Call United Auto Care in Flowery Branch, GA, today if your vehicle is experiencing any of the problems listed above. It could be a bad O2 sensor that needs to be replaced.