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Old 07-03-2008, 10:31 AM   #1
twhitney
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Default Symptoms of an O2 Sensor?

What type of symptoms would one get from a bad/faulty or failing oxygen sensor?

I know there are some perfomance decreases... or I think so anyway. I would also guess that gas mileage would take a hit.

Just curious as to what the different symptoms were or what symptoms others on this forum have had that turned out to be a bad O2 sensor.

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Old 07-03-2008, 11:19 AM   #2
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Default Re: Symptoms of an O2 Sensor?

Fuel economy will be the earliest and most immediate measureable symptom. OBDI cars don't have the PCM functions in OBDII that will warn you early on of a slow or out of range sensor. As the sensor further degrades, you'll have some driveability deterioration, but these occur over time and may not be noticeable. While there is no replacement interval for O2 sensors, and most will be fine well over 100k miles, it never hurts to consider them for replacement at the 80k mark for OBDI cars. If you have a graphing multimeter or a lab scope, you'll know for sure how they are but absent those two expensive tools, you're stuck with guessing.

I will add that O2 sensors are frequently blamed for ills elsewhere in the system. For those who retrieve codes, the sensor is often only reporting bad news upstream. If you can find someone with a full-featured scanner with OBDI software, it's always best to have a look at the data to see what's going on with the other sensors.

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Old 07-03-2008, 11:55 AM   #3
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Default Re: Symptoms of an O2 Sensor?

hrm interesting enough. I guess thats what I was looking at really... the whole interval that it should be replaced. Mine has never been replaced and the cars at 180k ... maybe Ill look into replacing it. Its easy replacement (so it looks) on my car...

Thanks for the info.

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Old 07-03-2008, 02:35 PM   #4
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Default Re: Symptoms of an O2 Sensor?

I hear of so many people that replace O2 sensors simply because the SES or Check Engine light comes on without ever retrieving codes or doing any other diagnostic work.

Gawd, I would love to have a graphing multi-meter. I would be unstoppable!

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Old 07-04-2008, 09:50 AM   #5
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Default Re: Symptoms of an O2 Sensor?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gerry Proctor View Post
I will add that O2 sensors are frequently blamed for ills elsewhere in the system. For those who retrieve codes, the sensor is often only reporting bad news upstream. If you can find someone with a full-featured scanner with OBDI software, it's always best to have a look at the data to see what's going on with the other sensors.
+1. Replacing the O2 sensor is kind of like shooting the messenger. In most cases, the sensor is indicating a problem elsewhere in the system, like GP and CF said.

That said, for a $20 spliced in Bosch O2 sensor, it could be worth the peace of mind at your cars mileage.

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Old 07-04-2008, 04:52 PM   #6
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Default Re: Symptoms of an O2 Sensor?

Very rarely has an O2 sensor been replaced for outright failure. The ones that do fail are posted and fade away, unfortunately. A dead one never leaves open loop mode with failure to pass inspection, a definite SES indicator, poor fuel mileage, possible catcon turning beet RED from excess fuel and destroying it. A 'lazy' sensor plays with the engine EFI system that would need a good tech to measure the output signals and frequency with a scanner while the DIYer can simply use a digital multimeter to measure the output and observe the voltage changes along with frequency between the voltage fluctuations.

From a site that generalizes; What Can Go Wrong

A properly operating O2 sensor can respond to changes in exhaust gas composition (go from a low voltage, 200 mV signal to a high voltage, 800 mV signal) in about 100 milliseconds.

Problems arise, though, when the O2 sensor is no longer able to respond that fast, or to measure accurately the amount of oxygen in the exhaust. Under those conditions, the engine no longer operates efficiently and rich or lean conditions can occur for protracted periods of time.

The result is poor driveability, manifested by one or more of the following symptoms:

decreased fuel economy
hesitation on acceleration
stalling
surging
rough idle and
increased tailpipe emissions (with a likely failure of emissions tests, where mandated).

In addition to driveability problems, a faulty O2 sensor can lead to premature failure on the catalytic converter.

The most common causes of early sensor failure are deposits on the probe tip that prevent the tip from accurately measuring the amount of oxygen in the exhaust gas. Silicone, condensed water, and some oil additives can contaminate the sensor.

In addition, sensors can be subjected to extreme temperatures, oil fouling, carbon deposits, and the corrosive effects of a myriad of harmful chemicals during a "normal" life. Eventually, even the best oxygen sensor, operating in the cleanest engine, will wear out.

At another site; Some cars have an oxygen sensor light that appears when oxygen sensor replacement is needed. Some symptoms of a faulty oxygen sensor include poor gas mileage, a failed emissions test, "rotten-eggs" smell from the exhaust, poor acceleration and more.

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Old 07-05-2008, 03:49 AM   #7
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Default Re: Symptoms of an O2 Sensor?

I purchased my Saturn with 71,666 miles on it. At 75,666 I brought my car into the dealership with a SES light. The code indicated a weak O2 Sensor (replaced under extended warranty). I know the car seemed sluggish when I first bought it. Another thing is I would see black stuff coming out of the tailpipe at start-up.

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Old 09-05-2008, 09:25 PM   #8
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Default Re: Symptoms of an O2 Sensor?

What does the expensive o2 sensor do in a 96 SL1? Would a failure in that one cause bad mpg?

Tnx

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Old 09-05-2008, 10:38 PM   #9
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Default Re: Symptoms of an O2 Sensor?

Quote:
Originally Posted by intercessor View Post
What does the expensive o2 sensor do in a 96 SL1? Would a failure in that one cause bad mpg?

Tnx
first, the NGK/NTK sensor is in the 40.00 price bracket and functions very well. Now as to the rest of your question. Without a full feature scanner for your emission system, OBD-I or OBD-II, you are reduced to guessing. If you go with the $20.00 universal then if that solves your problem you can on replacing it sooner or later, much less than 100,000 miles later. You really do not buy much for $20.00 these days. Will not get you a pitcher of cheap beer and a medium pizza, why would it buy a quality O2 sensor?

Armed with a scanner you can see if you are having an O2 sensor failure or its just the messenger. If you have played with these systems long enough you can get a feel for the real failure and the "just the messenger" failures. This is why so many odd questions get asked when someone shows up her with an O2 related code. This is what the posts above are saying also.

As to your specific question. If you have a code that is O2 sensor related and you are experiencing poor mileage then it is probably the sensor. Not 100% but a good bet. If there is no code at all but poor mileage then it might be the cause but a scanner is the only way to economically verify that. Other than that you are probably going to be throwing parts at the problem or doing a lot of component testing with a DVM to eliminate as many as you can. Poor performance or mileage can be caused by a leaking EGR, bad plugs/wires, dirty injectors, dirty throttle body, vacuum leak, improper fuel pressure, defective TPS, ECTS, IAT, MAP. The O2 sensor will be the device that sets the code for a partial failure of these other devices in many cases. So if they are all in good condition and check out you can change the O2 sensor.

The better dealers have one or two techs who do nothing but work the driveability complaints.

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Old 09-05-2008, 10:41 PM   #10
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Default Re: Symptoms of an O2 Sensor?

"Expensive" is relative and not necessarily tied to quality; if you research the prices you may notice that the higher priced O2 sensors have the proper connector for the car while the bare bones (same) ones are priced the lowest because you're not buying the connector. You have to realize that many car manufacturers like to make their components use exclusive connectors, resulting in so-called "genuine" parts when its all about marketing. If genuine quality was accurate then why did GM fail from '91-'01 with their infamous engine coolant temperature sensor failures (ECTS)? My '03 L300 uses the same coolant sensor but it uses the brass one. GM doesn't admit to failure on this one as you may have read throughout the S-series forums going waaay back. Quietly instituting the redesigned brass sensor permanently fixed continuing ongoing failures of every remaining S-car that hasn't replaced the original one. Stick around and you'll have a front row seat as another new member joins Saturnfans complaining of fan cooling, overheating, low mileage, plug fouling, oil diluting, hard starting, flooding problems. All attributed to the faulty original coolant sensor still being used until its pointed out by a fellow member. Maybe you.

An expensive O2 sensor isn't going to work any better than the generic ones sans connector that requires the car owner to splice in the wires manually to save the horrendous mark-ups some dealers overcharge when they can be bought for less online or even cheaper by adapting the old connector to the new sensor. Its all a matter of priority. Simplicity costs more nowadays than spending time to re-use some things. Dealer coolant sensors cost more because of marketing "genuine" parts when it can be bought for less at your favorite auto parts store. Buyer beware.

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