Find a Location Repair Estimator Specials Nationwide Warranty Features & Benefits Contact Us Join Our Talent Network


Oxygen Sensors

There was a time back in grade school when I was getting ready for the Annual Science Fair.

Many of my classmates, and future Jet Propulsion enthusiasts, would almost certainly put together a rocket out of matchboxes, aluminum foil, bottle caps and matches; others built impressive replicas of the Solar System with moving rotational orbits and different colored planets – all impressively dancing around the Sun.

In order to stand out a bit, (and save some time in setting up), I had brought several washers of differing weights and tied these up to varying lengths of twine. The weighted lines were then affixed and dangling from the same yard stick and held up on even surfaces to maintain a level. I ordered these differing lengths of twine so that the longest were on one end and the shortest at the other.

A few classmates looked over with a dumbstruck curiosity. “Looks kinda boring.” or “I don’t get it?” were just a few of the comments as some passed by. Unfazed by their comments – I completed by booth.

My humble project’s purpose was to showcase the effects of gravity, wavelength frequency and related effects on weighted objects. The premise was to count the number of swings a line would take each time it passed over its original resting position in a specific amount of time, 30 seconds to be exact. Many learned that longer and heavier lines moved slower but lasted longer and shorter, lighter weighted lines moved faster but shorter in duration. The test for them was to find the right washer and right length of twine that would make 30 swings in 30 seconds.

After a few minutes – I began to draw others over from the Solar System and Rocket exhibitions in the fair. My classmates found immense satisfaction in “calibrating” the correct combination of twine and washer to win the test.

Much is the same with measuring oxygen intake to your vehicle’s engine.

Having the appropriate oxygen “Calibration” level is extremely critical when it comes to optimizing engine performance and fuel economy in your vehicle. Just as the length of twine and weights of washers have an effect on the number of swings a pendulum makes – so too do oxygen sensors contend with altitude, temperature and barometric pressure in reading accurately. In fact, O2 Sensors constantly adjust the amount of oxygen getting to your engine.

This is where the oxygen sensor comes in. If there is too much oxygen, the computer will order up a little more fuel. If there is too little oxygen, the computer reduces the amount of fuel sent to the engine. The key is to get the right amount of oxygen into the engine at all times.

Obviously, if the O2 sensor is not working correctly, its readings will be off and the engine will not be getting the correct mix of fuel and air – causing it to run poorly and to use too much fuel. Oxygen sensors live in the hot exhaust and have unburned fuel and oil flooding over them all the time, so they eventually wear out and need to be replaced.

Amateur techs can misread O2 scanner information due to improper readings. Other times an O2 sensor is faulty or worn due to wear.

Bottom line – our technicians are qualified to properly diagnose problems surrounding oxygen sensors. If you have a Check Engine Light come on or if your engine is running rough or your fuel economy has dropped, we can get to the bottom of the problem and get it fixed right.

Posted October 29th, 2015

Find a Location

Find A Participating Location

Find your nearest NAPA AutoCare Center

Click here for