One of the first things that will happen if your oxygen sensor goes bad is that your check engine light will turn on. Unfortunately, the light will not turn off until you replace the malfunctioning oxygen sensor. Also called the O2 sensor, this exhaust system part is located in your tailpipe so it can measure the amount of oxygen in your exhaust. Aside from the dashboard warning, Righter’s Auto Repair advises you will also experience the following engine performance issues.
Black Engine Exhaust
The O2 sensor lets the engine control module know how much oxygen is in the exhaust so that the module can make adjustments to the combustion chamber mixture. This mixture is air and fuel. If the O2 sensor is bad, the readings will be off and the engine control module may put too much fuel in the chamber. When this happens, your engine burns away the fuel and you see black exhaust coming out of your tailpipe.
Fewer Miles Per Gallon
As the engine burns away the excess fuel, you will notice a reduction in your vehicle’s gas mileage. This fuel economy loss can be a sign of a bad oxygen sensor, mass airflow sensor, a clogged air filter, or other issue. If you combine the poor gas mileage with the check engine light, this is likely a problem with your oxygen sensor.
High Emissions Levels
Excess fuel also means excess carbon in your vehicle’s emissions. Although we don’t have any emissions testing here in Michigan, if you are concerned about your carbon footprint, the excess carbon in your exhaust is not something you want to have.
As we said in the title of this blog post, a bad O2 sensor can affect your engine’s performance. If the oxygen sensor sends readings to the engine control module and it incorrectly increases the air in the combustion chamber, you will experience spurts of power loss when you accelerate and drive. If there’s too much fuel in the chamber, your vehicle will surge sporadically.
Rotten Egg Odors
Finally, a malfunctioning O2 sensor can affect the catalytic converter. This, again, is because of the excess fuel in the combustion chamber. If the converter gets clogged while it tries to switch carbon monoxide to carbon dioxide, you will smell rotten eggs in the engine bay and in your vehicle’s exhaust.
Righter’s Auto Repair in Grand Ledge, MI, and Lansing, MI, can help. Call us today if you suspect your oxygen sensor is bad.