All modern vehicles will have at least one oxygen sensor (O2 sensor) in the exhaust system, with most of today's cars having as many as four different sensors located at key points between the engine, exhaust manifold and catalytic converter. These are highly sensitive pieces of equipment designed to detect any dangerous fluctuations in your exhaust gases.
Because these sensors are so sensitive, they will fail from time to time. They could start giving off false readings and warnings, or they may not work at all. You could have a harmful exhaust leak or other exhaust system problem and not even know it if the oxygen sensors aren't doing what they are designed to do.
The good news is there are several ways to tell if you have a failing O2 sensor in your car:
1. Check Engine Light
One of the most common sources for your check engine light coming on is the oxygen sensor. Either it is being tripped accurately because there is actually something wrong in the exhaust system, or the sensor itself is failing and needs to be replaced. Any time your check engine light is illuminated, you will want to get the vehicle checked out by an expert automotive mechanic.
2. Rough Idling or Misfires
Another sign of a bad oxygen sensor is if the engine is idling roughly or if it is misfiring when you accelerate. These are common symptoms associated with exhaust system issues. If you have a bad O2 sensor, you might have developed these exhaust problems without warning because that warning mechanism isn't working correctly. Rough idling and misfires can also be associated with any number of other engine or fuel system issues. Again, it's worth getting the vehicle checked out before it turns into something much worse.
3. Reduced Gas Mileage
The exhaust system has a significant effect on the overall fuel economy of any vehicle. When there are problems or if the oxygen sensors are malfunctioning, you may notice at drop in gas mileage. A loss of MPG can also be a result of other automotive problems, too—anything from tire pressure to fuel system issues.
4. Exhaust Leaks
If you fear that you may have an exhaust leak but your check engine light isn't on, it could be because of a faulty O2 sensor. If there is any chance you have an exhaust leak, you don't want to risk your health or the car's health. Do not hesitate to get your vehicle inspected by an automotive expert who can tell you if there is anything wrong and what needs to be done to fix it.
These are just a few signs that you have a bad oxygen sensor or some other exhaust system issue. If you are in Colorado Springs and are in need of exhaust system repairs, contact LightHouse Automotive today at (719) 465-0302 or schedule your service appointment online.