Sterling Virginia - What's the big deal about oxygen sensors?

Updated March 15th, 2017

Sterling, Virginia - The oxygen sensor in your vehicle is constantly hard at work optimizing the performance of your car. The oxygen sensor monitors the emissions of your car as well as the oxygen to fuel ratio of your fuel injector.


Where are Your Oxygen Sensors?

Hidden in the exhaust pipe of your car the oxygen sensor is made of ceramic with pores that contain electrodes coated in platinum. The electrodes are surrounded by a threaded casing.  These sensors are located in your exhaust pipe and are partially exposed.


How Do They Work?

The oxygen sensors monitor the performance of your catalytic converter as well as fuel injector.  They measure the oxygen levels in the gas as it goes into the converter, then again when it is released.  The oxygen sensor is looking for harmful emissions and unburned carbons, both which indicate performance issues.  This information is processed by your vehicle's computer, or engine control unit,  and then the fuel to oxygen ratio is adjusted accordingly.




What Happens When Your Oxygen Sensor Malfunctions

When your oxygen sensor malfunctions, your car won’t pass the Virginia State inspection. To avoid getting stuck without an inspection here are some warning signs you have may have a faulty oxygen sensor:


  • Your check engine light is on

  • Your engine has increased fuel consumption

  • You notice unusual exhaust output

  • Your engine misfires or stalls


While all these symptoms can indicate a variety of issues, it is important to perform regular preventative maintenance.  If ignored any of these problems can snowball into a larger and much more expensive repair.


How to Maintain Your Oxygen Sensors

Oxygen sensors are designed to last in the tough that they are placed, every oxygen sensor goes through a rigorous heat test before it released for use.  One way to ensure that your oxygen sensors last longer is to avoid using low quality gasoline.  Low quality gas can corrode the sensors overtime and cause them to malfunction. Learning what you need to know before visiting a Virginia State Emissions station is important for your peace of mind.


Performing regular vehicle maintenance will ensure that your entire exhaust system and engine are performing their best. Contact Hogan & Sons Tire and Auto to learn more about preventative maintenance from experts with over 30 years experience.

*Always check your owner’s manual for your vehicle model’s specific instructions before attempting any type of repair.

Copyright Hogan & Sons Tire and Auto 2017