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Introduction To Your Vehicle's Oxygen Sensor Install An Oxygen Sensor By John - You already know that your car's engine is responsible for creating the energy that turns your wheels and propels your vehicle down the road. It generates this energy through its combustion process. Air and fuel enter each cylinder's combustion chamber where the mixture is compressed and ignited, Install An Oxygen Sensor A lot of drivers fail to realize that the mixture within each cylinder's chamber must be carefully measured. The oxygen sensor (OS) plays an important role in ensuring an optimum ratio between the air and fuel. Below, we'll explore this component, and the job it performs, in greater detail. You'll learn how the OS is part of your engine's feedback loop. I'll also describe how it works and what can happen if it fails.

The optimum ratio between the oxygen and fuel that enters your engine's combustion chambers is 14.7 to 1. Too little air causes a rich mixture. In such cases, the combustion process results in unburned fuel that flows out of the chamber and into the exhaust system. That generates pollution and will cause your vehicle to fail an emissions test.

When there is too much air in the combustion chamber, a lean mixture results. That produces excess nitrogen oxides, a dangerous pollutant. Not only does that make your car's catalytic converter work harder, but it can also lead to engine damage.

The computer receives the data sent from the O2 sensor and uses it to modify the ratio of air and fuel used during combustion. If the oxygen sensor notes a too-lean or too-rich mixture in the exhaust, the computer (i.e. the engine control unit, or ECU) will adjust the fuel intake system in order to compensate. Your vehicle's O2 sensor generates a small electrical current when the component becomes heated. This voltage is produced by a chemical reaction. The portion of the sensor that is screwed into the exhaust manifold is equipped with a small bulb. The bulb is coated with chemicals that produce a reaction when they are exposed to the gases contained in the exhaust leaving your car's combustion chambers. The voltage created by this chemical reaction communicates the level of oxygen to the engine control unit. A high voltage means the mixture is too rich. A low voltage means the mixture is too lean.

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Install an oxygen sensor