4 Signs Your Car's Oxygen Sensor Is Faulty

Oxygen sensors help vehicles use fuel efficiently and safely. These sensors check oxygen levels in your fuel system. If levels are too high or too low, then the sensors trigger controls that change the ratio mix.

However, oxygen sensors don't last forever; they need periodic replacement. While this job is often part of a regular service, there are times when a sensor will fail unexpectedly and need early replacement.

How can you tell if your oxygen sensor has a problem?

1. Your Check Engine Light Comes on

A faulty oxygen sensor will trigger a malfunction alert. Usually, your check engine light will come on if your sensor has a problem or isn't working. Keep in mind that this light can go on for various reasons. You'll need to look for other problem signs and have an error code scan to confirm this sensor fault.

2. Your Car Uses More Gas

If you have a regular driving routine, then your fuel consumption will be consistent. If you haven't changed your driving habits but are having to refuel more often than usual, then your oxygen sensor might have a fault.

If a sensor doesn't send accurate readings to its control system, then your system might put more fuel in your system when it doesn't really need to. Your gas consumption will increase even if you aren't driving more than usual.

3. Your Exhaust Isn't Working Normally

If your oxygen sensor fails, then it can't control fuel supplies in your car. If your car sends too much fuel through your system, then some will sit in the engine without combusting. This fuel will make changes to your exhaust system.

So, for example, you might notice a nasty rotten egg smell or fuel odor around your tailpipe. If the problem happens a lot, then your tailpipe might also release black smoke.

4. Your Car Handles Differently

If your oxygen sensor prevents your car from using fuel efficiently, then you might notice that your car doesn't drive as smoothly as usual. Its performance might dip. For example, your engine might sound rougher when it is idling. It might stall unexpectedly. In some cases, it might not be as responsive as usual when you accelerate. Your car might be slow to speed up and might make jerky movements during this process.

To check if your oxygen sensor needs to be replaced, take your car to your local auto repair shop.