What Happens When the Oxygen Sensor Goes Bad?

A handful of things will happen if your oxygen (O2) sensor goes bad. We are going to list the signs of a faulty O2 sensor below so you know what to look for. Unfortunately, you will continue to have the following problems until you replace the malfunctioning O2 sensor. Del Hatt Automotive advises that the lifespan of an oxygen sensor varies between automobiles. If you drive a newer car, truck, or utility vehicle, you will likely get 100,000 miles out of the oxygen sensor.

The Check Engine Light Turns On

One of the first things that will occur when the O2 sensor goes bad is your check engine light will turn on. Generally, a diagnostic test will point us back to the oxygen sensor because the test will reveal a specific error code. The sensor sends this code to the engine control module and, as a consequence, the module turns on your dashboard’s check engine light.

You Can Smell Rotten Eggs in the Exhaust

The malfunctioning oxygen sensor can also create havoc in the combustion chamber. If you end up with excess fuel in the combustion chamber, the extra hydrocarbons can clog your catalytic converter. Once this has happened, your engine will begin to overheat and you may smell rotten eggs. The most common location of this odor is in your vehicle’s exhaust.

You Notice Your Gas Mileage Is Bad

When the delicate balance between the air and fuel is compromised, your engine will run less efficiently. You will see this in your gas tank. You will find yourself having to fill your automobile more frequently because there is a significant reduction in your fuel economy.

You’ve Got Black Smoke Coming Out of the Tailpipe

Both the faulty oxygen sensor and the malfunctioning catalytic converter can cause excess black exhaust smoke to come out of your vehicle’s tailpipe. This is an indication that the engine is burning excess fuel.

Your Emissions Levels Are Too High

Unfortunately, this excess fuel will also cause a problem with your vehicle’s emissions. They will be extremely high and, as a consequence, your automobile may not pass the emissions test.

Your Engine Sputters or Bucks Like a Bronco

Finally, the oxygen sensor can affect your engine’s performance. Depending on the imbalance in the combustion chamber, your vehicle may sputter and struggle to run or surge and buck like a bronco.

Del Hatt Automotive in Poughkeepsie, NY, is here to help, so give us a call today to schedule an appointment for your car, truck, or utility vehicle.

photo by Phantom1311 from Getty Images via Canva Pro

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