What Are Signs That Your Car's Oxygen Sensors Are Failing?

Modern cars have multiple oxygen sensors that are connected to the engine's computer. While you're driving, these oxygen sensors constantly monitor the amount of oxygen that's present in your car's exhaust. Measuring the oxygen content of your car's exhaust tells your engine's computer how much fuel to inject into the engine cylinders. The right mix of fuel and air inside a cylinder ensures that all of the fuel will combust fully, preventing harmful gases from escaping from your car's exhaust.

Oxygen sensors need to be replaced periodically to ensure that your engine keeps running smoothly. Oxygen sensors can fail when they get old, and they can also become covered in engine oil and stop working. When an oxygen sensor fails and stops communicating with the engine's computer, the computer has to guess how much fuel to inject into the cylinders in your engine. To learn about what kinds of problems a failing oxygen sensor can cause, read on.

Reduced Gas Mileage

When your engine's computer starts injecting too much fuel into the cylinders because the oxygen sensors are providing missing or faulty readings, your car will use gas more quickly. All of the excess fuel in the cylinder will escape from your exhaust into the air. Since you're wasting fuel, you'll need to fill up your tank more frequently while you're driving.

Poor Engine Performance

If your oxygen sensors are faulty, your engine's computer may inject too little fuel into the cylinders instead. Your engine will run more slowly, and you'll also feel your car stutter while you're driving. The stuttering is caused by the force of the combusting fuel being inadequate to power your car.

Increased Harmful Emissions

If you live in a state that requires cars to be regularly tested to see if they're producing harmful emissions, faulty oxygen sensors will cause your car to fail the test. An emissions test looks at the composition of the air that's leaving your car's exhaust. If there's uncombusted fuel in your exhaust, it will show up on the test, and you'll fail it.

Overall, failing oxygen sensors can cause your car to run worse, use more gas, and produce harmful emissions. If you believe that your car's oxygen sensors are starting to fail, take your car to an auto repair shop and have your oxygen sensors tested. An auto repair technician can scan your car's computer to see the readings that the oxygen sensors are producing. If the readings are missing or incorrect, you'll need to have the bad oxygen sensors replaced. Oxygen sensors are inexpensive, and an auto repair technician can quickly replace them. You'll be able to save money on gas and make sure that your car won't fail an emissions test if you need to take one.

Make an appointment at an auto repair shop to get started.