Most modern vehicles nowadays come equipped with an O2 sensor…
… a what?
What is an O2 sensor?
An oxygen sensor or O2 sensor is an integral part of a vehicle’s emission control system. Its main role in that system is exactly what its name suggests – it senses or reads how much oxygen is present in the exhaust. After that, it converts these readings into signals which it then sends to the main computer of the vehicle. Based on this readings, the computer will be able to tell if there is too little, enough, or too much oxygen in the exhaust system, and from there, be able to adjust the air and fuel mixture and the amount of fuel entering the engine accordingly. It is also the readings from the O2 sensor that tells the computer the engine’s condition as it runs along the road such as the engine temperature, engine load and others.
What makes it important?
If the above function of the O2 sensor does not yet show just how important it is, then let’s further get to know how the O2 sensor helps your vehicle run and operate.
Aside from its role with regards to emission, the O2 sensor is also important as far as gas mileage is concerned, even when it’s broken (well, not really “broken” broken). Let’s put that in example.
Overtime, oxygen sensors accumulate dirt like oil and ash coming from the combusting process. This then leaves the oxygen sensor clogged, which then reduces its efficiency. Because of the reduced efficiency, the function of the O2 sensor decreases and soon it starts to send false readings to the car’s computer. Because of the false readings, the computer will then force the engine to run on open loop mode and use up more fuel than it should.
As more fuel is used up by the engine, more hydrocarbon enter the exhaust and cause the catalytic converter to work harder, which can lead to it heating up and melting. This causes increased backpressure in the exhaust which drastically affects the engine’s performance. Not only will you lose money by reducing your gas mileage, but also because you need to replace the catalytic converter which can cost you thousands of dollars.
Having said all that, it is important that you take all the necessary steps and maintenance procedures in order to ensure that your O2 sensor works at its peak performance and ensure that your car does the same.