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Is your fuel lean or rich? Detect your car’s fuel efficiency with the help of Oxygen Sensors available at parts avatar.
Every new car, mostly after 1980s have an car oxygen sensor or O2 sensor. O2 sensors measure the amount of oxygen in the exhaust gases and detects if the engine is running lean (not enough fuel) or rich (too much fuel). To regulate engine performance and efficiency, the computerized engine control system depends on the inputs from these sensors. O2 sensors tell the car’s computer if it needs to add or take away fuel. It also measures the efficiency of catalytic converter. The amount of oxygen in the exhaust gas indicates good efficiency of engine combustion. A gasoline engine burns gasoline in the presence of oxygen. Oxygen sensors are located in exhaust manifold downpipes. It also does the job of checking air to fuel ratio.
Temperature of air, engine, barometric pressure, load on an engine and altitude can affect oxygen pulling efficiency of an engine. Therefore, we would not know the exact air to fuel ratio which would result in car’s poor performance. That was why the oxygen sensors were designed.
Too much amount of oxygen in the exhaust gases indicates a lean mixture. On the other hand too less amount of oxygen indicates rich mixture. Both these circumstances affect fuel efficiency. Lean mixture could damage an engine by increasing temperature of engine and can ultimately lead to misfire. Rich mixtures reduce economy and result in excess emissions.
Modern spark ignited combustion engines use oxygen sensors and catalytic converters of cars to reduce exhaust emissions.
HOW IT WORKS?
An oxygen sensor generates voltage signal proportional to amount of oxygen in the exhaust gas and sends this signal to engine control unit i.e. ECU. ECU maintains a certain air fuel ratio, by analyzing the information it gets from O2 sensors.
The sensing element is ceramic coated on both exhaust and reference sides with porous platinum electrodes. Ceramic body is made of zirconium dioxide or zirconia. Rich mixture causes oxygen demand. Due to transportation of oxygen ions into sensor, the voltage builds up generally 0.8 to 0.9 volts. Lean mixture causes low voltage generally 0.1 to 0.3 volts since there is excess level of oxygen.
Modifications that alter the engine to act either too lean or too rich may result in inefficient fuel consumption. So tampering with signals of O2 sensors could damage a vehicle.
TYPES OF OXYGEN SENSORS
Customers should have a good knowledge of oxygen sensors in order to get correct oxygen sensor fitting for their car.
It is most common sensor and comes in both heated and unheated form. Its two electrodes provide an output voltage proportional to quantity of oxygen in exhaust gases. It is called a narrow band sensor because it can only detect a narrow band of air to fuel ratio. It can either read lean or rich mixtures. Zirconia sensor is of two types:
1. Zirconia thimble type
2. Zirconia thick film type
It is less common type of narrow band sensors called titanium dioxide sensors. It does not produce its voltage but changes resistance in response to oxygen concentration. Its voltage drop varies from 0 to 5 volts. They are expensive as compared to zirconia sensors but their response time is also fast.
AIR FUEL RATIO SENSOR
Its work is similar to that of an oxygen sensor, the difference being that the output signal is not changed right after the mixture goes lean or rich. It is widely used in cars to achieve better fuel economy and better engine performance. It not only tells the ECU if the mixture is lean or rich but also tells how rich or how lean it is. It is commonly used in after market high performance and driver air fuel display equipment.
DIAGNOSING THE SENSOR
There are a few things to watch out before your O2 sensor fails.
1. The very first affect of bad oxygen sensor is on fuel delivery and combustion system. The incorrect measurement of air to fuel ratio may lead to reduced gas mileage of your vehicle. If you need to fill your gas tank more than usual then get your oxygen sensors checked by a professional.
2. A bad sensor could affect air to fuel ratio and combustion intervals. This could lead to misfiring of the engine.
3. Catalyst depletion could cause the failure of heated sensors. Unheated sensors fail due to building up of soot on ceramic element.
4. Lead, silicon, oil ash or sulphur into the exhaust could damage the oxygen sensor. Some natural elements like dirt, oil or water could also reduce efficiency of sensor.
5. Applying external voltage to sensors could damage them.
6. Engine light would illuminate if you have a failing sensor. Contact the professional as soon as you detect this symptom.
7. If you detect rough idling of engine and increased tailpipe emissions, then there may be something wrong with your oxygen sensor. Get it checked.
REPLACING THE SENSOR
If you are getting consistent error codes from the computer, the sensor probably needs to be changed. The sensor is a wear item and does fail over time. Replacement of bad sensor will reduce the level of emission, restore fuel efficiency and increase the life of converter. Unheated sensor can be replaced after 30000 to 50000 miles. A replacement interval of 100000 miles is recommended for heated or OBDII equipped vehicles.You can visit Partsavatar.ca for good range oxygen sensors.
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