How To Clean An Oxygen Sensor: Tips And More!

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A dirty oxygen sensor can cause the “check engine” and can also cause the car to burn extra gasoline. Read to the end and learn how to clean an oxygen sensor.

The oxygen sensor or lambda probe is an important element of a car engine. This device is part of a car’s emissions control system: it’s about the size of a spark plug and is responsible for checking the oxygen levels in a car’s exhaust stream.

If you suspect the oxygen sensor may be dirty, you can clean it yourself by first removing it from its housing in the vehicle, then soaking it in gasoline overnight.

Steps to clean an oxygen sensor

How to Clean an O2 Sensor
How to Clean an O2 Sensor

The steps and indications that you must follow to clean a lambda probe or an oxygen sensor are the following:

1. Location of the oxygen sensor

The first thing you need to do is find out where the lambda sensor or oxygen sensor is in your car.

Protect your hands and eyes.

Since you will have to deal with fuel and some parts of the car, it is important that you have protection against potential damage. Before you begin jacking up the car and locating the oxygen sensor, put on a pair of work gloves that have good resistance to protect your hands. You should also wear a pair of safety glasses or goggles in case WD-40 or fuel gets in your eyes.

  • Both work gloves and protective eyewear can be purchased or purchased at a local hardware store or large retail store such as WalMart or similar.

Raise the vehicle with a car jack.

In order to remove the oxygen sensor, you will need to have access to the underside of your car. You have to make sure the vehicle is on level ground, in “Park” and that the emergency stop is engaged before jacking up the car. Place the jack under part of your vehicle’s chassis (including an axle or the side of the car’s frame) and jack up the vehicle.

You can buy a car jack at any auto parts store.. Talk to the dealers and tell them what type and size of vehicle you have so they can suggest an appropriate jack.

Identifies the oxygen sensor(s).

Given the make and model of your car, you may have more than one oxygen sensor in your car. Check your vehicle’s owner’s manual for the exact location of the sensors. All vehicles have at least two lambda probes or oxygen sensors: one in front of your vehicle’s catalytic converter and one on the exhaust manifold. If your car has more than one exhaust manifold, there is bound to be an oxygen sensor inside each one.

  • The oxygen sensor will resemble a spark plug: measures approximately 5 cm (2 inches) long. One end will be hex shaped “for a wrench to fit” and the other end will be threaded to bolt onto your vehicle.

2. Remove lambda probe or oxygen sensor

Now you should try to remove or detach the oxygen sensors from their site. You may have a bit of trouble executing this type of action.

Spray the sensors with WD-40.

Since your vehicle’s oxygen sensors are rarely removed, they are likely stuck firmly in place and to loosen them up, spray the sensors with a lubricant such as WD-40 and let them sit for 10-15 minutes. The WD-40 will lubricate and loosen the probes or sensors, making them easier to remove.

  • If you don’t already have a can of WD-40 in your house, you can buy one at any local hardware or grocery store.

Fill a bucket or industrial container with gasoline.

While you wait for WD-40 to lubricate the oxygen sensor screw threads, you can start the next cleaning step. Fill a large bucket or industrial plastic container with gasoline and place it near your vehicle. Once you’ve removed the oxygen sensors from your car, you’ll clean them by soaking them in gasoline.

  • You must be sure that the bucket or container you choose can safely store the fuel, also you must know that not all types of containers are resistant to gasoline.
  • If you are going to buy the bucket or container at a hardware store, ask the seller to suggest a sealable and fairly safe plastic to store the gasoline.

Unscrew the oxygen sensors from their housing.

You will need a strong wrench to perform this process. Each of the oxygen sensors or lambda probes must be well lubricated and loosened at this point; take your wrench and firmly loosen the sensors. When removing the sensors from your vehicle, do not put them on the ground or allow them to get dirty. Place the sensors in a clean place, such as in a plastic container or on a clean, flat spot in your vehicle.

  • If you are unsure of the sensor wrench size, you can determine it simply by trying to place a medium-sized wrench on top of the oxygen sensor head. If it doesn’t fit the first wrench you’re trying to try, adjust the wrench size smaller or larger depending on the accuracy required.
  • Alternatively, use an adjustable sized wrench.

3. Oxygen sensor cleaning

Now the remaining step is the one where you can finally clean the oxygen sensor.

Submerge the oxygen sensors in a bucket of gasoline.

After you’ve removed the oxygen sensors from your car, soak them in the bucket or industrial container you’ve filled with fuel, and over time, the fuel will clean the oxygen sensors. Make sure that the sensors or lambda probes are completely submerged in the gasoline, and that none of the liquids splash out of the container or get on your hands.

  • Never smoke, light a candle, or have any other type of open flame when working around gasoline.

Cover the bucket with a lid.

Given the flammable nature of the fuel, it is important that you cover the industrial gasoline bucket or container, as this will prevent the gasoline from igniting and will also prevent some animals from gaining access to the fuel. If the container or industrial bucket has a lid, you could use it to cover the gasoline, you must seal the lid very well.

  • If you’re soaking the sensors in a bucket or container that doesn’t have its own lid, you’ll need to find something to cover the opening with. Look for a lid of the appropriate dimensions among the pots and pans in the kitchen, or simply place a piece of plywood or some huge book on top of the top slot of the bucket.

Let the oxygen sensors soak overnight.

The fuel will not clear the oxygen sensors immediately; you will need to soak them for at least 8 hours. At some point while the sensors are soaking in the container with gasoline, pick up the container and turn it over several times. This will ensure that all parts of the sensors are being cleaned by the gasoline.

Remove and dry the sensors.

After the oxygen sensors have soaked overnight, you will need to reach into the bucket or container of fuel and remove the sensors. Look at their appearance: they should be much cleaner than when you removed them, then with the help of a clean cotton cloth, clean the fuel from the oxygen sensors and dry them completely.

  • To prevent gasoline from getting on your hands, you can wear a thick pair of rubber gloves while removing the oxygen sensors from the gasoline.
  • You could also wear a pair of gloves that are the same as the ones you would wear when washing dishes.

Reinstall the oxygen sensors in your vehicle.

Once the oxygen sensors have been dried, use your wrench to reinsert them into the exhaust manifold(s) and the other places you originally removed them from. Fully tighten the oxygen sensors in place.

  • To finish this process, use the car jack to lower the vehicle carefully and slowly.
  • Start your vehicle and check if the “check engine” light is still on, chances are it has gone out; what’s more you may notice that clean oxygen sensors cause your car to use substantially less fuel.
How to Clean a Lambda Sensor
How to Clean a Lambda Sensor

Tips

If after cleaning your oxygen sensor or lambda probe, your oxygen sensor is faulty, broken or permanently damaged, you will need to replace the device, you should consult a mechanic or the salesmen of an auto parts store to determine what type of sensor fit your car.

things you will need

The things you will need are:

  • Car jack (optional but recommended).
  • Safety glasses.
  • Work gloves.
  • Wrench.
  • WD-40 and gasoline.
  • Bucket with lid.

A dirty oxygen sensor can cause the “check engine” and can also cause the car to burn extra gasoline. Read to the end and learn how to clean an oxygen sensor.

The oxygen sensor or lambda probe is an important element of a car engine. This device is part of a car’s emissions control system: it’s about the size of a spark plug and is responsible for checking the oxygen levels in a car’s exhaust stream.

If you suspect the oxygen sensor may be dirty, you can clean it yourself by first removing it from its housing in the vehicle, then soaking it in gasoline overnight.

Steps to clean an oxygen sensor

How to Clean an O2 Sensor
How to Clean an O2 Sensor

The steps and indications that you must follow to clean a lambda probe or an oxygen sensor are the following:

1. Location of the oxygen sensor

The first thing you need to do is find out where the lambda sensor or oxygen sensor is in your car.

Protect your hands and eyes.

Since you will have to deal with fuel and some parts of the car, it is important that you have protection against potential damage. Before you begin jacking up the car and locating the oxygen sensor, put on a pair of work gloves that have good resistance to protect your hands. You should also wear a pair of safety glasses or goggles in case WD-40 or fuel gets in your eyes.

  • Both work gloves and protective eyewear can be purchased or purchased at a local hardware store or large retail store such as WalMart or similar.

Raise the vehicle with a car jack.

In order to remove the oxygen sensor, you will need to have access to the underside of your car. You have to make sure the vehicle is on level ground, in “Park” and that the emergency stop is engaged before jacking up the car. Place the jack under part of your vehicle’s chassis (including an axle or the side of the car’s frame) and jack up the vehicle.

You can buy a car jack at any auto parts store.. Talk to the dealers and tell them what type and size of vehicle you have so they can suggest an appropriate jack.

Identifies the oxygen sensor(s).

Given the make and model of your car, you may have more than one oxygen sensor in your car. Check your vehicle’s owner’s manual for the exact location of the sensors. All vehicles have at least two lambda probes or oxygen sensors: one in front of your vehicle’s catalytic converter and one on the exhaust manifold. If your car has more than one exhaust manifold, there is bound to be an oxygen sensor inside each one.

  • The oxygen sensor will resemble a spark plug: measures approximately 5 cm (2 inches) long. One end will be hex shaped “for a wrench to fit” and the other end will be threaded to bolt onto your vehicle.

2. Remove lambda probe or oxygen sensor

Now you should try to remove or detach the oxygen sensors from their site. You may have a bit of trouble executing this type of action.

Spray the sensors with WD-40.

Since your vehicle’s oxygen sensors are rarely removed, they are likely stuck firmly in place and to loosen them up, spray the sensors with a lubricant such as WD-40 and let them sit for 10-15 minutes. The WD-40 will lubricate and loosen the probes or sensors, making them easier to remove.

  • If you don’t already have a can of WD-40 in your house, you can buy one at any local hardware or grocery store.

Fill a bucket or industrial container with gasoline.

While you wait for WD-40 to lubricate the oxygen sensor screw threads, you can start the next cleaning step. Fill a large bucket or industrial plastic container with gasoline and place it near your vehicle. Once you’ve removed the oxygen sensors from your car, you’ll clean them by soaking them in gasoline.

  • You must be sure that the bucket or container you choose can safely store the fuel, also you must know that not all types of containers are resistant to gasoline.
  • If you are going to buy the bucket or container at a hardware store, ask the seller to suggest a sealable and fairly safe plastic to store the gasoline.

Unscrew the oxygen sensors from their housing.

You will need a strong wrench to perform this process. Each of the oxygen sensors or lambda probes must be well lubricated and loosened at this point; take your wrench and firmly loosen the sensors. When removing the sensors from your vehicle, do not put them on the ground or allow them to get dirty. Place the sensors in a clean place, such as in a plastic container or on a clean, flat spot in your vehicle.

  • If you are unsure of the sensor wrench size, you can determine it simply by trying to place a medium-sized wrench on top of the oxygen sensor head. If it doesn’t fit the first wrench you’re trying to try, adjust the wrench size smaller or larger depending on the accuracy required.
  • Alternatively, use an adjustable sized wrench.

3. Oxygen sensor cleaning

Now the remaining step is the one where you can finally clean the oxygen sensor.

Submerge the oxygen sensors in a bucket of gasoline.

After you’ve removed the oxygen sensors from your car, soak them in the bucket or industrial container you’ve filled with fuel, and over time, the fuel will clean the oxygen sensors. Make sure that the sensors or lambda probes are completely submerged in the gasoline, and that none of the liquids splash out of the container or get on your hands.

  • Never smoke, light a candle, or have any other type of open flame when working around gasoline.

Cover the bucket with a lid.

Given the flammable nature of the fuel, it is important that you cover the industrial gasoline bucket or container, as this will prevent the gasoline from igniting and will also prevent some animals from gaining access to the fuel. If the container or industrial bucket has a lid, you could use it to cover the gasoline, you must seal the lid very well.

  • If you’re soaking the sensors in a bucket or container that doesn’t have its own lid, you’ll need to find something to cover the opening with. Look for a lid of the appropriate dimensions among the pots and pans in the kitchen, or simply place a piece of plywood or some huge book on top of the top slot of the bucket.

Let the oxygen sensors soak overnight.

The fuel will not clear the oxygen sensors immediately; you will need to soak them for at least 8 hours. At some point while the sensors are soaking in the container with gasoline, pick up the container and turn it over several times. This will ensure that all parts of the sensors are being cleaned by the gasoline.

Remove and dry the sensors.

After the oxygen sensors have soaked overnight, you will need to reach into the bucket or container of fuel and remove the sensors. Look at their appearance: they should be much cleaner than when you removed them, then with the help of a clean cotton cloth, clean the fuel from the oxygen sensors and dry them completely.

  • To prevent gasoline from getting on your hands, you can wear a thick pair of rubber gloves while removing the oxygen sensors from the gasoline.
  • You could also wear a pair of gloves that are the same as the ones you would wear when washing dishes.

Reinstall the oxygen sensors in your vehicle.

Once the oxygen sensors have been dried, use your wrench to reinsert them into the exhaust manifold(s) and the other places you originally removed them from. Fully tighten the oxygen sensors in place.

  • To finish this process, use the car jack to lower the vehicle carefully and slowly.
  • Start your vehicle and check if the “check engine” light is still on, chances are it has gone out; what’s more you may notice that clean oxygen sensors cause your car to use substantially less fuel.
How to Clean a Lambda Sensor
How to Clean a Lambda Sensor

Tips

If after cleaning your oxygen sensor or lambda probe, your oxygen sensor is faulty, broken or permanently damaged, you will need to replace the device, you should consult a mechanic or the salesmen of an auto parts store to determine what type of sensor fit your car.

things you will need

The things you will need are:

  • Car jack (optional but recommended).
  • Safety glasses.
  • Work gloves.
  • Wrench.
  • WD-40 and gasoline.
  • Bucket with lid.

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