The first indication that there is a problem with your vehicle’s oxygen sensor is when the “Check Engine” light comes on. A quick check with a handheld diagnostic scanner/reader will confirm that you need to change the oxygen sensor on your vehicle. Depending on the make and model of your vehicle, there will be between two and four O2 sensors located on your exhaust system. There is at least one sensor in front of the catalytic converter, plus one in each of the car’s exhaust manifold. The diagnostic scanner/reader should tell you which bank of sensors has gone bad.
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Locate the oxygen sensor on your vehicle by looking for a part that looks like a spark plug that sticks out from the exhaust pipe. It will have an electrical connection attached to it.
Disconnect the electrical connection on the oxygen sensor. Use a flat tip screwdriver to push in the tabs and pull the connection apart.
Unscrew the oxygen sensor off the exhaust pipe using either an open-end wrench or a special socket made to remove it. The majority of oxygen sensors will take an SAE 7⁄8 inch (2.2 cm) wrench.
Compare your new oxygen sensor to the old one. If the new one did not come with an electrical connection, but just with the wires stubbed out, you need to do a little work.
Cut off the old connector from the bad oxygen sensor, strip the wires and solder the wires to the new oxygen sensor. You can also use butt connectors.
Use heat sensitive shrink tape to seal the connections.
Follow manufacturer’s instructions to know which wires to tie together.
Reverse the steps used in removing the oxygen sensor and install the new part. Add a small amount of anti-seize to the threads of the new sensor. Screw it in place clockwise and snug it down with the socket or open-end wrench. Do not over tighten the sensor as you might strip the threads.
Plug the electrical connections back in.
Turn on the ignition key, but do not start your vehicle. Use the diagnostic scanner/reader to clear the code from the vehicle’s computer.
Start the car. You should notice an immediate improvement.