The oxygen sensor is one of the most vital components of the exhaust system of a car. It is used to regulate the amount of oxygen present in the exhaust system and maintains the smooth operation of the engine.
Today we are going to discuss whether one can drive with a bad o2 sensor or not.
Can you drive with a bad o2 sensor?
It is possible for someone to drive with a bad o2 sensor. But driving with a bad o2 sensor is not wise as it can cause permanent damage to the car engine. One can drive around with a bad o2 sensor by maintaining the speed limit. It is better to replace the bad o2 sensor instead of driving with it.
The O2 sensor is one of the most important sensors of the car. Modern cars usually have two o2 sensors in their body.
One of the oxygen sensors is known as the upstream oxygen sensor and the other one is known as the downstream oxygen sensor.
The upstream oxygen sensor can be found near the exhaust pipe while the downstream one can be found near the muffler.
There are several reasons that can cause an o2 sensor to go bad. If the fuel of the car becomes contaminated, the oxygen sensor can go bad. The carbon deposits being left on the o2 sensor can also cause it to become faulty.
Whatever maybe the reason, if you have a bad o2 sensor, you should repair it immediately. Because a bad o2 sensor can pause long term problems.
You can drive with a bad o2 sensor if you want to. But it is not recommended by experts as it can permanently damage the engine and increase the maintenance cost of the car.
A bad o2 sensor will even increase the fuel consumption of your car by giving inaccurate readings to the engine control unit. The engine control will then fail to maintain the accurate mixture of air and fuel in your engine.
Your car will face starting problem if you keep driving with a bad o2 sensor. Your engine will keep stalling and idling because of a faulty o2 sensor.
If your check engine light comes on suddenly, you should run the OBD2 code to find out if your o2 sensor has problems.
Can you drive long-distance with a bad o2 sensor? How far can you drive with a bad o2 sensor?
Generally, an o2 sensor can give service for up to forty to fifty thousand miles. But it can go bad before completing this quota.
When an o2 sensor goes bad, you can keep driving with it. But driving with a bad o2 sensor might cause permanent damage inside the engine.
There is no number that can tell us how far you can drive with a bad o2 sensor. But experts suggest that you should not drive a bad o2 sensor at all.
You should repair or replace your oxygen sensor as soon as you have found out that it has become faulty and bad.
One other important thing here is the function of o2 sensor. As o2 sensor helps your engine control unit to maintain the accurate flow of air-fuel mixture into the engine, it is imperative that you do not drive far with a bad o2 sensor for the sake of your car.
Can a bad o2 sensor damage your engine?
A bad o2 sensor can absolutely damage your engine. The primary job of o2 sensor is to give reading about the air-fuel mixture of your engine to the engine control unit.
Based on the reading given by o2 sensor, the engine control unit then take steps to regulate the optimum flow of air-fuel inside the engine.
If a o2 sensor becomes bad, then the air-fuel mixture of the engine will be messed up causing it burn more fuel than usual. This increases the fuel economy of your engine. A bad o2 sensor will cause your engine to stall and rough idle too.
If you have difficulty starting your engine, it is because your o2 sensor might have gone bad.
A bad o2 sensor poses long-term threats to the optimum condition of your car and can damage your engine permanently if you keep driving with a bad o2 sensor.
What happens if you drive with a bad o2 sensor?
There a lot of things that can happen if you drive with a bad o2 sensor. Let’s discuss in detail about some of them.
Increases fuel consumption:
The o2 sensor of your car is responsible for the accurate mixture of air and fuel in the engine. The o2 sensor creates a reading about the air-fuel mixture by oxidizing the oxygen when it travels through the exhaust.
The engine control unit then takes this reading to consideration while injecting fuel into the engine. An inaccurate from the bad o2 sensor will increase the fuel consumption of your car and make your wallet lighter.
A bad o2 causes short term and long term problems for your engine. When your o2 sensor becomes bad, you will find it difficult to start your engine.
Even if you manage to start your engine, you will get a shaky feeling while driving as a bad o2 sensor causes your engine to stall and rough idle.
The check engine light comes on:
If your o2 sensor becomes bad or faulty, then it will cause the check engine light to come on.
The check engine light coming on can indicate other problems too. But it is better to run the o2 error code to find out if your o2 sensor has gone bad or not.
Causes emissions test failure:
A bad o2 sensor causes emission tests failure. If you have failed an emission test, it is most probably because of a faulty o2 sensor. In that case, you should get your o2 sensor checked by a professional immediately.
What are the bad o2 sensor symptoms?
A bad o2 sensor will show several symptoms. First of all, a bad o2 sensor will cause your check engine light to come on. A bad o2 sensor will cause your car to have emissions test failure.
One of the common symptoms of a bad o2 sensor is poor fuel economy. Because a bad o2 sensor will gradually increase the fuel consumption of your car.
Your engine will start to rough idle too if you have a bad o2 sensor. While rough idling, the RPM rate of engine reaches somewhere between two thousand to three thousand which is not a good symptom to have.
You will also sense a rotten egg smell coming from inside the engine if you have a bad o2 sensor.
How to drive with a bad o2 sensor?
There are several steps that can enable you to drive with a bad o2 sensor. Let’s discuss in detail about them.
Follow the speed limit:
The first and most important step of driving with a bad sensor is to follow the speed limit. If you maintain to drive your car inside the speed limit, then it will help you to minimize the o2 sensor damage.
If you want to keep driving with a bad o2 sensor without damaging your engine permanently, you will have to accelerate carefully. Rough acceleration can damage the catalytic converters.
Use the brake:
Using the break can help you a lot when you intend to drive with a bad o2 sensor. Using the brake regularly will help your car to be steady while driving. It also helps you to maintain the speed limit we mentioned before.
It is not wise to drive around with a bad o2 sensor for a long time. A bad o2 sensor will cause permanent damage to your engine if you take it on a long drive.
So you will have to avoid going on a long trip in order to keep driving with a bad o2 sensor.
How much does it cost to replace an O2 sensor on a car?
It is very easy to replace an O2 sensor on a car. But the cost of replacing an O2 sensor depends on who is doing with along with the cost of the parts.
If you are planning to replace the O2 sensor yourself, then it will cost you about fifty to one hundred USD.
But replacing it by a mechanic will take the replacement cost to somewhere between two hundred to four hundred USD depending on the labor cost, parts cost and model of the car.
One can drive with a bad o2 sensor if some tips and tricks are followed. A bad o2 sensor will increase the fuel consumption of the car. Driving with a bad o2 sensor can even cause permanent damage in the engine. A bad o2 sensor should be replaced immediately for the betterment of the car.
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.