Yes, the oxygen sensor can damage the catalytic converter, although the damage is indirect. What actually happens is that the oxygen sensor malfunctions and sends incorrect data to your vehicle’s main computer chip. The chip uses this data and increases the amount of fuel in the combustion chamber even though it doesn’t need it. Primary Care Auto Repair advises that the extra hydrocarbons from the excess fuel can clog the catalytic converter and damage it. You will smell rotten eggs as a result. This is just one sign of a faulty O2 sensor. Here are others.
Check Engine Light
When the O2 sensor goes bad, the check engine light will come on. This is a common reason why you end up with the check engine dashboard warning. The faulty oxygen sensor sends an error code at its initial malfunction to the engine control unit. The ECU turns on the check engine light as a result.
Excess Exhaust Smoke
The excess fuel in the combustion chamber can also cause exhaust smoke to flow out of your tailpipe. Normally, you would not see your vehicle’s exhaust, but a combination of too much fuel and a faulty catalytic converter can make black exhaust smoke flow out of the pipe all the time.
Fuel Efficiency Loss
Another indication that your oxygen sensor is malfunctioning is a loss of your vehicle’s fuel economy. As you will read below, the malfunctioning O2 sensor can cause engine performance problems. These performance problems mean that your automobile goes through gasoline or diesel fuel quicker than it normally does. In other words, you won’t get as many miles per gallon.
High Emissions Levels
Unfortunately, excess hydrocarbons mean high emissions levels and a failed emissions test. In fact, if your oxygen sensor is going bad, your vehicle will fail the emissions test due to the error codes it releases. Consequently, you will need to replace the dead O2 sensor in order to pass the emissions test.
Finally, as mentioned above, if your oxygen sensor is going out you may experience engine performance problems such as sputtering and surging. The sputtering is caused when the engine control unit puts too much air in the combustion chamber. The surging is caused if there is too much fuel in the chamber.
Primary Care Auto Repair in Warwick, RI, contest your oxygen sensor and replace it if it has gone bad. Call us today to set up an appointment for your car, truck, or utility vehicle.