The national cost for an oxygen sensor replacement with CarAdvise in 2024 is between $121 and $536 with an average of $274.

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What is an oxygen sensor and how does it work?

An oxygen sensor (O2 sensor) is a device fitted into the exhaust system of your vehicle to detect the amount of unburned oxygen that is present in the exhaust gases coming from your engine. During combustion, your engine burns a mixture of air and fuel inside the combustion chambers. When that air/fuel ratio is out of balance, excess amounts of unburned fuel or unburned oxygen escape through the exhaust.

To correct these conditions, a vehicle has two to four oxygen sensors mounted near the exhaust manifold or on the exhaust pipe near the catalytic converter. These sensors read the amount of oxygen present in the exhaust and send data to the engine’s computer (the Engine Control Module, or ECM). The ECM analyzes this data and adjusts the air/fuel mixture for optimal performance and fuel economy.


How is a an Oxygen Sensor Replacement done?

To replace a faulty oxygen sensor in your vehicle, a technician will first need to diagnose which sensor is bad and where it is specifically located. Every vehicle is different, so research is needed to locate the proper sensor. Your vehicle may also need to be lifted and supported off of the ground for access to the sensor. With the vehicle in position, the technician will take the following steps:

  • Unplug the wire connecting the oxygen sensor to the vehicle harness
  • Unscrew the oxygen sensor from its mounting location. The sensor is often difficult to remove and may need the help of penetrating oil or heat to prevent it from breaking off in its mount
  • Verify that the replacement sensor is correct and add anti-seize compound to its threads
  • Insert the new sensor into its mount and tighten
  • Plug in the sensor wire, making sure that the pigtail is routed properly
  • Lower your vehicle
  • Using a scan tool, clear the trouble code from the ECM

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National average cost of a an Oxygen Sensor Replacement
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What are the signs that an oxygen sensor needs to be replaced?

If one or more of the oxygen sensors on your vehicle is faulty, the following signs are likely:

The check engine light comes on and a diagnostic scan reveals a trouble code related to an oxygen sensor

Your engine idles roughly

Fuel economy drops

You notice a rotten egg smell coming from the exhaust

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Other questions customers ask

Can I replace an oxygen sensor myself?
The procedure to replace an oxygen sensor on many vehicles is not an extremely complicated one. That said, it is not always easy. First of all, a vehicle usually needs to be safely lifted and supported off of the ground for access to an oxygen sensor. Then there is the difficulty accurately diagnosing which sensor needs to be replaced (something that requires a diagnostic scan tool) and determining where that specific sensor is located. Dislodging the sensor from its mounting location is also tricky; an oxygen sensor is often stuck in place and too often breaks before loosening up.
What happens if an oxygen sensor is not replaced?
If an oxygen sensor fails and is not replaced, one thing that will happen is that your engine’s computer will not be able to accurately set the air/fuel mixture for combustion. Poor fuel economy and higher emissions will result. Damage to the catalytic converter is also possible - and costly. And your vehicle will probably not pass an emissions test.
What causes oxygen sensor failure?
An oxygen sensor usually goes bad because it becomes contaminated with a buildup of combustion byproducts, such as oil and soot. Sometimes, oxygen sensors get gummed up due to the use of cheap fuel. Even engine coolant that leaks into the combustion chamber through a faulty seal can also cause contamination.

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