Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Oxygen (O2) Sensor and Catalytic Converter Failure Problems

Oxygen (O2) Sensor and Catalytic Converter Failure Problems


Oxygen sensors (O2) used in most of today's automotive gasoline engines are failing at an ever increasing rate.

There can be one to five sensors per vehicles and having them replaced can cost a consumer $100.00 to over $300.00 each.

Also, they rarely fail together, which means a customer can have one replaced and be back next month or even next week to have another done. This can go on and on until the customer takes their business elsewhere.

This can happen in brand new vehicles with low mileage or older high mileage ones.

Vehicles such as ambulances, police cars, and service equipment that have long idle periods and or a high percentage of idle time; and vehicles used for short trips are most susceptible to these problems.

Interestingly, most of these "failed" sensors are not actually defective or even worn out. What has happened, is that a small amount Ethanol in the gasoline (gasohol) will get past the piston rings and into the motor oil.

The Ethanol with agitation and heat liberates some of the phosphorus from the motor oil. This phosphorus is vaporized and sucked into the Positive Crankcase Ventilation (PCV) system and burned in the combustion chamber. This burned phosphorus on its way out the exhaust coats the O2 sensor(s) building up in layers.

This phosphorus coating acts as a insulation causing the sensor to react slower than normal. The engine computer reads this slow reaction time as a failure of the sensor forcing its replacement.

Note: This is the same material that coats catalytic converters causing them to go "cold" or cease to function.

Replacement of the sensor(s) is not the only option. It is possible to with a properly formulated chemical additive to clean up and remove this coating (both from O2 Sensors and Catalytic Converters) with a service procedure or with a tank additive.

The danger is that 98% of the additives on the market today are not properly formulated, and these poor quality products can actually make the problem worse, by permanently damaging the sensors or converters.

Remember; a well recognized brand name is no guarantee that it is a good product. Some of the biggest names are actually the poorest products.

It is also possible that with regular treatment, you can actually prevent these problems from ever happening in the first place.

Please comment on this and any of our other posts.

20 comments:

  1. I purchased a used Honda S2000 with 16,500 Mile.

    The car appeared to be mechanically sound and the body needed a few dings removed

    The Catalytic Converter burned out a few days ago. The ceramic honey cone was in pieces - the O2 sensor in the Converter was melted down.

    Once all components were replaced all indicators are that the S2000 is once again okay. No fuel or mechanical problems that would cause the converter to failure

    I have never knowingly placed any ethanol into that car...alway pull premuim unleaded 93 in the gas tank as per instructions in the owner's manual.

    The mechanics who worked on the car and other technicians who looked at the converter told me that the previous owner may have put gasohol or ethanol into fuel tank as the damage indicated that converter and O2 sensor start failing months before I purchased the car.

    So be careful where you purchase your fuel when it reads 93 unleaded premuim it may not be as it may include large amounts of ethanol - Do not put ethanol into car meant to operate on 93 unleaded premuim - as it will not save you money.

    The few pennys you save now may cost you big dollars later.

    ReplyDelete
  2. This is a very interesting and correct perspective about O2 sensors. To learn more and take this to the next level... how they work, How to Diagnose, How to replace, where to find them cheap.....

    http://tinyurl.com/nm3swg

    ReplyDelete
  3. you refer to gasoline engines. What about diesels?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi there, awesome site. I thought the topics you posted on were very interesting. I tried to add your RSS to my feed reader and it a few. take a look at it, hopefully I can add you and follow.

    ReplyDelete
  5. That's been a problem in all my taxi unit here in Orlando. it's very expensive to maintain, thought I could just change the whole system but that was not the solution though.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Local Line LLC is specialised in providing Services and supplies to oil and gas sectors. Supplies different types of chemicals used in oil sectors in the Middle East and around the world.

    ReplyDelete
  7. can you name dome additives that are properly formulated that will address the buildup issue on the o2 sensor and the converter?

    ReplyDelete
  8. Would definitely be interested in some additives that ARE properly formulated to remove build-up on O2 sensors and cats.

    ReplyDelete
  9. A "properly formulated chemical additive to clean up and remove this coating (both from O2 Sensors and Catalytic Converters) with a service procedure or with a tank additive." Okay, thanks for the great advice but, can you now recommend such a product?

    ReplyDelete
  10. Since you do not back up what you say by naming a "properly formulated chemical additive," I tend not to believe it. I will just spend the $ on new O2 sensors and new catalytic converter. Problem solved.

    ReplyDelete
  11. It's a real good explanation of problems with the lambda probe and the catalytic converter, I had this problem with the check engine light. What's interesting here is that I might research about using some additive, since replacing those parts is something expensive.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Glad you explained it further here. Thanks a lot for a good posts.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I had this code in my chevy cavalier 2003. When the tank was nearly empty, I filled up with zero-ethanol pure gas (83octane), and after about 20 miles of driving the light went off. I have just under 150K on it, and I think that it is becoming increasingly sensitive to bad gas.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Thanks For sharing useful information

    ReplyDelete
  15. fuel additives is heralded by shopkeepers and investment bankers alike, leading many to state that fuel additives is featuring more and more in the ideals of the young and upwardly mobile. Inevitably fuel additives are often misunderstood by those politically minded individuals living in the past, who just don't like that sort of thing. In the light of this I will break down the issues in order to give each of them the thought that they fully deserve

    ReplyDelete
  16. I have an 02 beetle 118,000m. When I bought it two years ago, I noticed that the check engine light disappeared when I used ethanol free gas. Then I got lazy and starting using both ethanol and ethanol free randomly. I ignored the check engine light. A year later when it came time to do emissions testing, I did pure gas and again I was cured but again I got careless after that. Now with this years emissions test, no additive nor pure gas would resolve the issue. The cat was clogged and the o2 sensor bad. I replaced both and passed emissions. After that, however, p0171 came back. I switched back to pure gas and it went away. I will have to use pure atleast 90 percent of the time to avoid emissions headaches and cat and o2 repairs. Its ironic how this "environmentally friendly" ethanol actually makes my car fail the other "environmentally friendly" emissions test. It can't do both.

    ReplyDelete
  17. catalytic converter cleaner can also help. this is all due to emission of converter.

    ReplyDelete