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Oxygen Sensor Test Cost

Know what price you should pay to get your vehicle fixed.

The average cost for an oxygen sensor test is between $35 and $45. Labor costs are estimated between $35 and $45. Estimate does not include taxes and fees.
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What is a Oxygen Sensor Test?

The oxygen sensor supplies your vehicle’s computer (ECM) with information that indicates when the air/fuel mixture used in the combustion process is too lean or too rich during normal engine operation. The oxygen sensors are mounted in the exhaust path, either in the engine compartment or near the catalytic converter. Depending on variables such as the year, make, model, and engine type, a vehicle may have anywhere from one to five sensors. An oxygen sensor test is a pinpoint test used to evaluate if an oxygen sensor is faulty.

How does a Oxygen Sensor Test work?

The engine in a car, truck, or SUV uses a mixture of gasoline and oxygen in the combustion process. There is a target ratio for this gasoline/oxygen mixture. If the mixture has too much fuel, it is considered "rich," a condition where unburned fuel is present in the exhaust. Too much oxygen is considered a "lean" mixture that can lead to poor engine performance and damage. The oxygen sensor(s) placed in the exhaust pathway measures the difference between the oxygen present in the exhaust and the oxygen present in the atmosphere. Then, by way of a chemical reaction, the sensor produces voltage that is read by the ECM to determine if the mixture is rich or lean and adjust the fuel mixture to move it toward the target.

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What are the symptoms of a bad Oxygen Sensor Test?

The most common symptom of a bad oxygen sensor is a check engine light on the dashboard. Interestingly, a faulty oxygen sensor is one of the most common reasons for a check engine light. Other symptoms of a bad oxygen sensor include poor idle, erratic engine operation with the throttle steady, or a hard start condition.

Can I drive with Oxygen Sensor issues?

A vehicle can be driven for a time with a bad oxygen sensor. It is unlikely that major damage will occur. However, a vehicle with a faulty oxygen sensor is likely to put out excessive pollution and have poor fuel mileage. If an oxygen sensor is suspected of being faulty, limit the duration and distance, and avoid aggressive driving.

How often do Oxygen Sensors have issues?

Depending on the type of oxygen sensor in a vehicle, it may last 50-60K miles or more.

How are Oxygen Sensors tested?

To diagnose a bad oxygen sensor, a technician will use a special scan tool to read the Diagnostic Trouble Code (DTC) responsible for the check engine light. If the code reveals that the oxygen sensor is at fault, the technician will determine (often by way of the scan tool ) which sensor is showing a fault. Since the scan tool does not diagnose whether or not the oxygen sensor is actually bad (only that there is a fault in the circuit), a technician will also use a vehicle repair manual and a multimeter to perform a pinpoint test aimed at verifying the status of the sensor. That pinpoint test will include locating the sensor, disconnecting the harness plug, turning the ignition "on", and checking the harness plug for battery voltage. If voltage is confirmed present, the technician will check the engine ground to the circuit and test the resistance (impedance) across the terminals of the sensor plug. The information gathered by this series of tests should tell the technician whether or not the sensor is working.

How are Oxygen Sensors replaced?

If an oxygen sensor is determined to be faulty, a technician may have to lift and support the vehicle for access to the sensor. The technician unplugs the sensor and uses a special wrench to remove it from its mount. This is often a difficult procedure because the constant heating and cooling of the exhaust system causes the sensor threads to seize. It is not uncommon for a sensor to break during removal. A new sensor is then installed in the mount on the exhaust pipe and connected to the wiring harness. The technician will lower the vehicle and start the engine to verify that the repair was successful. The DTC may also need to be cleared before the vehicle is put back into service.

RepairPal Recommendations for Oxygen Sensor Test issues

RepairPal recommends replacing an oxygen sensor with the same type of sensor that is removed, an OEM or dealer-provided part. Aftermarket sensors are available at a reduced cost, but some vehicle computers may not recognize an aftermarket sensor and it may be impossible to clear the fault code from the system.

What to look out for when dealing with Oxygen Sensor Test issues

As with many repairs, the most challenging aspect is not the replacement procedure, but diagnosis of the problem. Many aftermarket auto parts stores offer free scanning of trouble codes (check engine light, etc.) with the goal of selling auto parts. But a DTC that points to an oxygen sensor may not be the result of a bad sensor, but rather a broken wire or other problem in the circuit. Further testing of the system and the sensor is necessary to pinpoint the cause.

Can I replace the Oxygen Sensor Test myself?

Someone with an intermediate level of DIY experience can replace a bad oxygen sensor as long as the sensor has been properly diagnosed. If the old sensor breaks during removal, a more complex procedure will be necessary. It may also be necessary to have the DTC cleared.

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