Generally, an O2 sensor is an electrical device that measures the oxygen proportion in a liquid or gas. So, the O2 sensor in your vehicle measures the oxygen level on the exhaust gas.
The oxygen sensor is a pretty essential device because this device is related to the emission control system of your vehicle.
So, you might be confused about whether a bad O2 sensor can cause rough idle or not. Well, rough idle can occur because of many different problems.
But if the problem is with a bad O2 sensor, you have to fix or replace the sensor. So, knowing details about the oxygen sensor is pretty essential.
Can a bad O2 sensor cause rough idle?
A bad O2 sensor can cause rough idle. Generally, when your vehicle has a bad oxygen sensor, it will affect the engine’s timing. Moreover, it will affect the combustion intervals and misbalance the air and fuel ratio. As a result, shaking, stalling, etc., will cause rough idle in your vehicle.
However, if you are familiar with driving or vehicle performance, you might know the meaning of rough idle. Generally, when you face difficulty with unsmooth driving, it will be a rough idle. Moreover, unsmooth stopping or starting of your vehicle’s engine will also be rough idle.
An oxygen sensor is an essential device that measures the oxygen level and helps to balance the air and fuel ratio. Moreover, it helps the combustion intervals and the engine’s timing. So, if your vehicle has a faulty oxygen sensor, it will not perform these jobs.
So, a bad oxygen sensor will directly or indirectly cause rough idle problems. For example, when the bad oxygen sensor will not measure the oxygen level properly, the air to fuel ratio will not be maintained properly.
As a result, the engine will not get enough power to work smoothly. You will face an unsmooth startup or stop while using the vehicle. Moreover, the bad sensor will cause unusual engine timing. This will cause shaking.
Besides, the faulty oxygen sensor will cause stalling. You will face unsmooth overall performance of your vehicle. So, a bad O2 sensor will cause a rough idle.
How does a bad O2 sensor cause rough idle?
Now that you know a bad O2 sensor can cause rough idle, you might want to know how that happens. Well, rough idle is most commonly related to the engine. When there is a problem in the engine, it will cause a rough idle.
So, a bad O2 sensor will affect the engine somehow and it will cause rough idle. Generally, the main function of an oxygen sensor is to measure and balance the oxygen level. So, when this level is misbalanced, the air to fuel ratio will also be misbalanced.
Moreover, a bad oxygen sensor will cause stalling and shaking. So, you will not the smoothness of driving anymore. When you start up or stop the vehicle, you will feel the roughness.
Besides, a bad oxygen sensor will make combustion intervals misbalanced. It will also decrease the control over engine timing. So, when the O2 sensor affects the different functions of the engine, it will cause rough idle.
Can a bad downstream oxygen sensor cause a rough idle?
Yes, a bad downstream oxygen sensor can cause a rough idle. Generally, a downstream oxygen sensor is an essential part of engine management. For example, it can detect problems with the converters.
Moreover, when there is a problem with the oxygen sensor, the downstream oxygen can detect the problem. So, if the downstream oxygen sensor is not working well, it will also not monitor the oxygen sensor. As a result, engine management will be hampered.
When the engine management will not be okay, your vehicle might experience rough idle. So, a bad downstream oxygen sensor can cause a rough idle indirectly.
What does a bad O2 sensor do to your car?
A bad O2 sensor can create different problems for your car. You might don’t know the details about them. So, let’s see what a bad O2 sensor does to your car.
Affect combustion intervals:
One of the main functions of oxygen sensors is to regulate or monitor combustion intervals. So, if the oxygen sensor goes bad, it will affect the combustion intervals. As a result, it will affect the engine’s performance.
When your can has a bad oxygen sensor, it will affect the engine’s performance. So, the acceleration will not be as per the fuel consumption. You will experience a low acceleration.
When you start up the car or stop the car with a bad oxygen sensor, you will see the lack of smoothness. Moreover, while driving the car, you will experience rough idle several times. Though rough idle might not affect the car dangerously, it can affect your driving.
Lower gas mileage:
When the engine will not get enough air to fuel ratio because of the bad oxygen sensor, the engine will not perform according to their consumption. So, you will also experience lower gas mileage.
Affect overall performance:
If the bad sensor affects different performances of the engine and the control system, it will affect the overall performance of the car.
Is it harmful to drive a car with a bad oxygen sensor?
No, it will not always be harmful to drive a car with a bad oxygen sensor. Generally, a bad oxygen sensor will not damage the car’s parts instantly. If you can start the car with a bad sensor, you can also drive the car.
You might face difficulties while starting the car or feel a lack of smoothness while driving. But a bad sensor can gradually damage different parts of the sensor. For example, if you don’t fix or replace the bad oxygen sensor, it will damage other internal parts of the car eventually.
So, whether it harms the car or not, you should fix the problem as soon as possible. Otherwise, long-term problems might arise.
How much does it cost to fix or replace an O2 sensor?
How much it costs to fix or replace an O2 sensor depends on how you will do the job. Generally, if you fix or replace the sensor on your own, it will cost less. But if you fix or replace the sensor with a professional, it will cost more.
However, if you fix or replace an O2 sensor yourself, it can cost from $20 to $100. But if you fix it by a professional, it might cost from $120 to $400.
What causes a bad oxygen sensor?
Several things can be responsible for causing a bad oxygen sensor. For example, if the gasoline is low-quality or cheap, it might cause bad oxygen.
Besides, if the sensors become contaminated with byproducts, the oxygen sensors can go bad. For example, sulfur, lead, oil ash, and other residues might contaminate the oxygen sensors. These problems can cause oxygen sensors to go bad.
How often to replace oxygen sensor?
Electrical devices or different parts of the car can go bad over time. So, you should replace these parts regularly. Similarly, you should replace your car’s oxygen sensor after 3 to 5 years.
You can also calculate the miles according to the miles. After 60,000 to 90,000 miles, you can replace the oxygen sensor.
A bad oxygen sensor can create different problems in your car. But one of the most common symptoms that a bad oxygen sensor creates is the rough idle of your car. Generally, a bad O2 sensor will affect the engine timing, a wrong air to fuel ratio, stalling, etc., problems that will cause rough idle.
I am an automotive enthusiast and have been interested in cars since I was a little kid. I have worked in the automotive industry for many years and have extensive knowledge of vehicles and their engines. I am a father of two and I love spending time with my family.
Read more about the author here.