The oxygen (O2) sensor, also known as the lambda sensor, is responsible for a variety of important functions that ensure your Jaguar is running smoothly and efficiently. The sensor, which looks like a spark plug, is screwed into the catalytic converter.
Vehicles can be equipped with anywhere from one to up to four O2 sensors. However most Jaguars only have one sensor for V6 engines, while the V12 engines require two. In Jaguars, there are two types of O2 sensors: one-wire and three-wire sensors. The three-wire sensors are able to bring themselves up to operational temperature quickly due to a built-in heat generating mechanism. It’s important to know which type your Jaguar requires before replacing it.
The Importance of Replacing the O2 Sensor
Though it is small, the O2 sensor is so important to the life of your engine and your safety that all automotive manufacturers, including Jaguar, recommend replacing the part every 30,000 miles. Failure to do so could lead to some serious issues with your Jaguars performance and pose a threat to your safety. Here’s why:
It’s Required By Law
Federal Emissions laws make it mandatory for all cars and light trucks built since 1981. This law went further in the 90s by requiring an additional sensor further downstream of the catalytic converter in order to monitor the effectiveness of the converter on efficiency. Any vehicle made in 1996 or after will include the second sensor, which is why larger engines will have up to 4 sensors.
The main purpose of the O2 sensor is to tell your car’s computer how it’s burning fuel. It continually detects the level of oxygen in the exhaust stream and sends the information to the fuel injection computer of your car. If there is too little oxygen, the car is running lean and will begin sending more fuel to the cylinders in order to avoid poor performance or potential engine damage. If there is too much oxygen, then the engine is burning through too much fuel and will adjust by reducing the amount sent to the cylinders. The O2 sensor maintains this balance as long as it’s in good condition.
When an O2 sensor goes bad, it will begin telling the fuel injection computer that the car is running lean and the computer will in turn send more fuel. The results of this are not only wasted fuel and excess emissions, but it could also lead to damage to the catalytic converter. If the catalytic converter gets burnt out from the excess fuel, not only will it add to your replacement costs but it poses a serious risk to your safety. The combination of the overheated converter with the oxygen-rich fuel could lead to fire in your exhaust system which could spread to the rest of your vehicle.
All of this adds up to the fact that replacing your O2 sensor as directed by the vehicle manufacturer is incredibly important. Using your car’s manual as a guide for when to replace it is a good start, but you should also be aware of any signs that the sensor is going bad.
Diagnosing a Bad O2 Sensor
Considering the environment it lives in, the O2 sensor is quite a robust piece of equipment. It does, however, wear out over time. The performance of the sensor weakens over time as contaminants in the fuel accumulate on the tip of the sensor. Exposure to water, salt, oil and other road debris could also damage the sensor.
The problem is, beyond perhaps noticing decreased fuel efficiency there are no real signs to let you know that the sensor is failing. Most vehicles have an O2 sensor light that comes on to warn the the driver that it’s time to be replaced, but the only foolproof method for ensuring it working is having it checked out on a regular basis.
Routine Maintenance by Trusted Professionals
The best way to avoid costly, unexpected repairs related to the O2 sensor is regular preventive maintenance by experienced professionals. The ASE-certified team at Green Garage European Auto Centre, convenient to Winter Park and Orlando, FL are familiar with the needs of your Jaguar and can recommend a maintenance schedule that includes factory recommended services that will help protect your vehicle and keep it running smoothly while also prolonging its life and improving its performance.