What Are Common Oxygen Sensor Problems in Your Car?


Quick Answer

While the most common oxygen sensor problem is the sensor itself failing, several other problems can cause a fault code in the onboard diagnostic computer that points to the sensor, including loose vacuum hoses and loose, broken or burned wires that lead to the unit. If the computer senses a problem with the sensor, the vehicle is probably consuming more gasoline than necessary. Without repair, oxygen sensor issues can lead to more serious problems.

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Full Answer

As of 2013, oxygen sensor problems were the most common reason for a car to display a Check Engine light, replacing the former most common reason of a loose gas cap. While replacing an oxygen sensor is simple, they are often in difficult-to-access locations. The exhaust sensor is subject to a lot of heat and tends to seize in place, making removal difficult. Professional replacement of the sensor costs between $200 and $300 in most cases, but operating the vehicle with a bad sensor can cause the catalytic converter to fail, increasing the repair cost to more than $1,000.

An automotive scan tool, which is more than just a code reader, provides real time diagnostic data from the onboard computer. The scan tool helps a mechanic determine if the code is actually indicating an issue with the oxygen sensor or another issue and can prevent the unnecessary expenses of replacing a sensor that is not the issue.

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