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What Is An Oxygen Sensor And How Can It Go Bad?

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One of the reasons the check engine light will go on is due to the oxygen sensor. Unfortunately, it is an important part of your vehicle and it needs to get fixed when it goes bad. If you've never heard of the oxygen sensor before, or don't know anything about it, it can be helpful to learn more about them and why they go bad.

Why Your Car Needs the Oxygen Sensor

An oxygen sensor is just what it sounds like: it will monitor the amount of oxygen held within the exhaust. It only measures the unburned oxygen, used for combustion. The car is then able to adjust the oxygen and fuel mixture within the system to get into the engine. Your car needs the sensor to keep the exhaust clean and your car running efficiently.

The sensor's lifespan will depend on the age of the sensor. Those made between the 1970s and early 1990s will last around 40,000 and 50,000 miles compared to the newer ones that last 100,000 miles, according to Oil Filters Online.

Why Oxygen Sensors Go Bad

If your car has driven more than 100,000 miles and the sensor has never been replaced, wear and tear is likely the reason for it going bad right now. It will need to be replaced as soon as possible to keep the system running efficiently.

There are times that you can cause the sensor to fail sooner than it should. Using the wrong type of fuel for your vehicle is one of the most common reasons this happens. You may also find opting for low-quality gas causes a problem.

Poor vehicle maintenance can also cause the quicker wear and tear. This is especially the case if you skip maintenance and allow dirty oil to pass around the car or not changing the air filter regularly. Not changing the spark plugs as soon as they become faulty can also lead to oxygen sensor problems.

Diagnostic Error Codes Are Not Perfect

Sometimes, you will get a diagnostic error that says the oxygen sensor is bad. If you have replaced it already and know that is not the case, you need to look at connections to the sensor. The problem is codes aren't perfect and there could be multiple reasons for one code to appear.

Make sure you look after your vehicle and attend regular services. The oxygen sensor should last most of your vehicle's life, depending on the amount you drive. A fully working oxygen sensor will mean your car continues to run smoothly and efficiently. If you are getting an error code and aren't sure what the problem is, take your vehicle to a mechanic. It is better to be safe than sorry. 

If new parts are needed for the repair, consider using an aftermarket parts provider.