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Got oxygen? I am loosing my sensors.

Written by maryp posted on Wednesday, July 30th, 2008

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One of the facts of owning and driving a BMW, MINI Cooper, (or any other car), is that it will need maintenance. There about 8,000 parts on every car and the only honest guarantee, is that they will not all last forever. Sorry, but those are the facts. Honest.

For example, your oxygen sensors are a maintenance item. You will want to replace these according to the BMW recommendations, if not sooner. The downside of not replacing these, are: higher fuel consumption, possible failure of the catalytic converter, excessive emissions, reduced performance and even stalling. If your catalytic converter is damaged by excessive heat, (caused by improper/rich fuel mixture), the substrate melts, blockage will form, gases build up in the exhaust system, your BMW may even be stalling. All of a sudden you are looking at an expensive repair, that could have been avoided by you, the owner of the BMW.

The sensors’ element can become contaminated from normal use over time. Combustion residue, road splash, oil, or dirt, (on the element) can cause it to reduce it’s effectiveness or fail. In other words, it cannot respond quickly to the air and fuel mixture, by generating voltage and sending the proper info to your onboard engine management computer. Your engine management computer then regulates the fuel mixture. But, only if your oxygen sensor is working at optimum!

Note: The first oxygen sensors were called Lambda sensors in the earlier fuel injected European vehicles, (such as BMW), developed by Bosch. They are made out of a ceramic with a thin film of precious metal. The number of oxygen sensors utilized in your vehicle have increased, especially since OBDII was implemented. (That’s your onboard diagnostics, version 2, that was introduced in ’95-96).

Note: We’ve seen reports of a 10-15% difference in fuel consumption in regards to a good oxygen sensor vs. a failing oxygen sensor!

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