Cleaning Your Oxygen Sensor Can Extend Its Life

Posted on: 23 December 2014

If your dreaded check engine light recently came on, there is a good chance your oxygen sensor set it off. You can have auto repair shops run a diagnostic to determine if your oxygen sensor is causing your check engine light to go off. Instead of replacing your oxygen sensor, you can clean it and extend its life.

Your Oxygen Sensor Keeps Everything In Balance

Your oxygen sensors are located near your exhaust pipe. These little sensors plays a very important role in your emission control system. It lets the emission control system know how much oxygen your engine is getting as well as the quality of the oxygen. This allows your engine to balance how much fuel it is putting out. When the oxygen to fuel ratio is lined up correctly, your engine will run smoothly and you will get great gas mileage.

However, since your oxygen sensor is located inside near your exhaust pipe, it can quickly get covered up with gunk. When that happens, your check engine light goes off. However, just because the sensor is dirty does not mean it is broken. It may just need cleaned off.

Determine Which Sensor Is Bad First

Most vehicles have more than one oxygen sensor. Your local auto parts store can quickly run a free diagnostic test and tell you which sensor is sending bad information to your emission control system. You will need to remove and clean that sensor.

Jack Up Your Vehicle

In order to get to the sensor, you will need to use jacks to elevate your vehicle. Make sure the jacks are secure before you try to locate the oxygen sensor.

Locate The Oxygen Sensor

The oxygen sensor should be directly attached to your exhaust pipe somewhere near the catalytic converter. In order to remove the sensor, you will need to use a socket wrench to remove the bolts that hold it in place. Then you will need to unplug the electrical wires that are attached to the sensor.

Clean The Sensor

Once you removed the sensor, use a wire brush to remove the dirt, debris and grime that has built up on the sensor. You will want to focus on cleaning the metal tube shaped end of the sensor.

You can also use some compressed air to blast away some of the grime that has accumulated as well.

After you have done this, pour a small amount of gasoline into a disposable plastic container, such as an old butter container. Set the oxygen sensor in the gasoline with the metal tube-shaped half facing down into the gasoline. Let the sensor sit in the gasoline over night.

In the morning, remove the sensor from the container. You should be able to wipe away any remaining grim. Use a towel to dry off the sensor.

Reattach The Sensor

Once the sensor is dry and clean, you need to reattach it. First, you will want to put it in place and secure the bolts that were holding it up. Once you have done that, then you should reattach the electrical wiring. Once the sensor is secure, you can remove the jacks from your vehicle.

By cleaning your oxygen sensor, you should be able to get some more miles of your oxygen sensor before you have to replace it. 


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