News & Media


Car Care Tip: Replacing oxygen sensors

September 11, 2012, Kimberly Hyde, Special to NASCAR.COM, NASCAR.com

With the introduction of fuel injection into the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series this season, every race car is now equipped with two wide-band oxygen sensors. There is one on each engine bank, which relay variable information on engine performance, virtually continuously, to the vehicle's fuel management system.

O2 sensors, or oxygen sensors, help determine how the race car reacts to race conditions and are vital to obtaining maximum performance on the track. Similarly, your vehicle relies on O2 sensors to keep its engine running at maximum performance on the road.

Your vehicle's O2 sensor performs tests on your car's exhaust to determine how much oxygen is in it. It then transports the data to your vehicle's computer, which uses the findings to create the perfect air to fuel mixture for optimal engine performance. Obviously, those sensors play an important role in the optimal operation of your vehicle, but these parts are often overlooked when performing regular vehicle maintenance.

Many motorists do not know the symptoms of bad O2 sensors, and only learn of the issue when either the check-engine light illuminates on the dashboard or their vehicle fails an emissions test. So what are some bad oxygen sensor symptoms?

Failing oxygen sensor symptoms include:

-- Poor fuel mileage

-- Rough engine idle

-- Engine misfiring

-- Engine hesitation or stumbling when attempting to accelerate

Typically, vehicles manufactured in the last fifteen years should have their O2 sensors replaced every 60,000 - 90,000 miles.

It's important. On top of poor engine performance, which can have long term effects on your engine life, a bad oxygen sensor will have an increased negative impact on the environment as it releases higher levels of pollution into the air.

It is not very common for an O2 sensor to completely fail, as it more often fails over time. If you have been experiencing these problems and suspect you have a faulty O2 sensor, it is best to replace it earlier than later. Doing so helps keep the environment cleaner and it will also lengthen the life of your vehicle.

For more on oxygen sensors, visit www.boschusa.com.