A Faulty O2 Sensor Can Cause All Sorts of Problems

The oxygen (O2) sensor is an important part of your exhaust system. This sensor is found in the tailpipe where it measures the oxygen levels in your vehicle’s exhaust. Your car, truck, or utility vehicle’s main computer chip uses this information to keep the air and fuel mixture balanced in the combustion chamber. Hummel’s Automotive & Diagnostic Repair lists the problems a faulty oxygen sensor causes below.

Black Engine Exhaust

If the main computer chip believes that the combustion chamber needs more fuel than it actually does, you will end up with black exhaust smoke flowing out of your tailpipe. This is because excess fuel is being burned away in the combustion chamber and, consequently, creating excess exhaust smoke. In severe cases, you may also have sparks or flames in the exhaust.

Engine Performance Trouble

You may also notice engine performance problems such as surging or sputtering. This can indicate that the engine is burning too much fuel or has too much air in it. Either condition can be caused indirectly by a faulty O2 sensor that has sent misguiding readings of the oxygen levels in the exhaust to the main computer chip. The chip will believe the data is correct and make unnecessary adjustments to the air and fuel.

High Emissions Levels

Excess fuel in the engine can also increase your vehicle’s emissions levels. This is unfortunate because the high emission levels will cause your automobile to fail any emissions test that it takes. If your vehicle does not meet the requirements for exclusion, it must pass an emissions test every other year in order for you to register it in the state of Utah.

Reduction in Fuel Economy

You may also notice that your fuel economy is not what it used to be if you have a malfunctioning O2 sensor in the tailpipe. This problem goes back to the imbalance of air and fuel in the combustion chamber. This imbalance causes the engine to run inefficiently. Naturally, an inefficient engine will burn through more gasoline or diesel fuel than an efficient one will.

Sulfur/Rotten Egg Smell

Too much fuel can also create another problem in your vehicle’s exhaust system. In this case, the excess exhaust will clog the catalytic converter and cause it to fail. As a consequence, you will smell sulfur in your vehicle’s engine bay and in the exhaust. A rotten egg odor is burning sulfur.

Dashboard Check Engine Warning

Finally, all of these symptoms will be accompanied by a check engine warning light on the dashboard. This light will turn on because of the problems listed above and also because the oxygen sensor has likely sent an error code to the main computer chip.

We can help here at Hummel’s Automotive & Diagnostic Repair in St. George, UT, so give us a call today.

Photo by Birdlkportfolio from Getty Images via Canva Pro

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