How Do You Clean An O2 Sensor On The Car

How Do You Clean An O2 Sensor On The Car

A faulty O2 sensor will make you think that there is something wrong with your car’s engine. The O2 sensor monitors the oxygen burned in the fuel mix. When it gets dirty, you’ll get a check engine light. How do you clean an O2 sensor on the car?

  1. Locate where the 02 sensor is.
  2. Remove the sensor.
  3. Soak it in gasoline.
  4. Let it soak for 24 hours.
  5. Dry the sensor on a shop towel.

Modern cars are equipped with sensors to monitor a range of operations. These transmit information to your onboard diagnostics system (OBD-II).

If something is malfunctioning, you’ll know what, where, and why. These components take the guesswork out of identifying complications in your car. When a sensor goes out you will get some kind of alert.

It’s only natural that sensors will get dirty with everyday regular use. There’s not much you can do to prevent it unless you stop driving. Fortunately, most of the systems don’t need to be cleaned frequently. But, that doesn’t mean you should wait until normal function is impaired.

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to clean a car engine oxygen sensor.

What Happens When The Oxygen Sensor Is Dirty

What Happens When The Oxygen Sensor Is Dirty

An oxygen sensor in your vehicle measures the level of oxygen in the engine to ensure optimal performance.

Part of the emission system monitors the emissions from your car by maintaining a healthy fuel and air ratio.

With a bad sensor, there will be no way to measure and maintain that ratio. Nevertheless, cars become less fuel-efficient with a bad oxygen sensors.

A car’s engine running on a ratio of excessive air and less fuel is said to have a lean mixture.

This mixture yields nitrogen-oxide pollutants that hinder acceleration and may damage the engine. If the car’s engine is running on excessive fuel with less air ratio, it is said to have a rich mixture. A rich mixture causes your vehicle to pollute the air and heat up too quickly.

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How Do Oxygen Sensors Get Dirty

Since oxygen sensors are integrated into the exhaust system of your vehicles, they are prone to getting dirty.

Toxic gases including Carbon Monoxide (CO), Hydrocarbon (HC), Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2), and fuel contaminate the sensor and impact its performance.

Cleaning An Oxygen Sensor

Cleaning An Oxygen Sensor

Before you start, you need to have all the needed equipment and tools to clean an oxygen sensor.

You don’t need many tools while cleaning an oxygen sensor, you just need to make sure that you are protected. Wear safety gloves and glasses while cleaning the sensor.

WD-40, gasoline, an industrial bucket, or some kind of industrial container will be required as well.

[Related Article: How Long Can A Car Go Without An Oil Change]

Locate The Sensor

Locate The Sensor

Depending on the car’s brand and model, it may have more than one O2 sensor. The location of these sensors is different for each model. Consult with your manual to find the exact location of the sensor.

Most cars have sensors under part of the chassis. So, that’s probably where you will be looking.

To find the sensor, lift the vehicle with a car jack. In order to remove the oxygen sensor, you will need to have access to the underside of your vehicle.

Make sure that the vehicle is on level ground, is in the park position and that the emergency brake is engaged before lifting the car.

Place the jack under part of your vehicle’s chassis (including an axis or the side of the car frame) and lift the vehicle.

Identify the oxygen sensor(s). Depending on the make and model of your vehicle, it may have more than one oxygen sensor.

Check your vehicle’s owner’s manual for the exact locations of the sensors.

All vehicles have at least two oxygen sensors: one in front of your car’s catalytic converter, and one in the car’s exhaust manifold. If your vehicle has more than one exhaust manifold, there will likely be an oxygen sensor inside each one.

Remove The Sensor

  1. Spray the sensors with WD-40. 
    As your vehicle’s oxygen sensors are seldom removed, they will probably be firmly stuck in place. To loosen them, spray the sensors with a lubricant like WD-40 and let them sit for 10–15 minutes. The WD-40 will lubricate and loosen the sensors, making them easier to remove.
  2. Unscrew the O2 sensors from the housing.
    You’ll need to use a sturdy wrench for this. Each of the oxygen sensors should be well lubricated and loosened at this point; take your wrench and firmly loosen the sensors.
  3. Place the sensors on a clean surface. 
    Place the sensors somewhere clean, don’t let dust particles get on them.

Soaking The Sensor

  1. Fill an industrial bucket with gasoline. 
    Make sure the sensor will be fully submerged in the gasoline.
  2. Place the sensor inside the bucket.
  3. Let it soak overnight. 
  4. Let it dry
    This is usually done in a workshop where you have shop towels nearby. If you don’t have them at home, make sure you order some online.

Reinstall The Oxygen Sensors

Reinstall The Oxygen Sensors

After you are done cleaning the sensors, reinstall them in the car. Once dry completely, of course.

It’s as simple as screwing them back in. It’s a good idea to consult with the manual again if you don’t know where to place them.

A better idea is to take a picture of the sensors before removing them. That way, you will have a picture that you can take a look at if you don’t remember what goes where.

If your check engine light is still on, maybe the sensors are faulty and not dirty.

Related Questions And Other FAQs

Can I Clean An O2 Sensor

Yes, you can clean an O2 sensor instead of replacing it. Doing this requires some skill but if you have at least some experience, you will be able to do it yourself.

How Do You Clean An O2 Sensor Without Removing It

You must remove an oxygen sensor if you want to clean it. There’s no way to clean the sensor without removing it. It must be removed and soaked in gasoline for 24 hours.

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