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How to Clean a Bad Oxygen Sensor

How to Clean a Bad Oxygen Sensor

An oxygen sensor is a significant component of an automobile’s exhaust system. But over time, coolants and oils accumulate inside it, and negatively affect its performance in the form of deteriorated performance and inept combustion. If you neglect it, it can eventually need replacement. You can effectively prevent replacement of the oxygen sensor by cleaning the bad oxygen sensor at regular intervals of time. You don’t need to take your car to a professional either. You can clean it at your home itself. This oneHOWTO article will give you step by step instructions on how to clean a bad oxygen sensor.

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Steps to follow:


The first step to clean an oxygen sensor is to protect yourself and ensure safety by wearing gloves, goggles and face mask, as you would be working with gasoline during the process.


Park your car in a well-ventilated, well-lit, clean area.


Now you are prepared, let's start to clean your oxygen sensor. Use a jack to lift your car and hold it in position. Engage the hand break to ensure that the car does not move while you are lifting it. Use jack stands to ensure that your car does not fall off while you are working under it

How to Clean a Bad Oxygen Sensor - Step 3

Slide under the car, and look for your car's oxygen sensors, which should be near the converter. Your car may have different numbers of oxygen sensors, depending on the make, model and year of your vehicle. You can refer to the owner’s manual to know the exact location of your sensors. Commonly, you will find one in front of the catalytic converter, and another in the exhaust manifold.


As you seldom remove your car’s oxygen sensors, they must have stuck firmly in place. Spray a lubricator on the sensors to give them some lubrication, after which it will become easier to remove them. Wait for 10 minutes. The lubricator will loosen and lubricate the sensors, and then unplug them using a wrench. If you still can’t take them off, spray some more lubricator on them and wait for another 10 minutes.

How to Clean a Bad Oxygen Sensor - Step 5

Take a container with a lid that should fit tightly to prevent any leakage. Make sure that the container will safely hold the gasoline that you would be keeping in it. Gasoline is a highly combustible substance that may catch fire if it leaks.


While you remove the sensors, don’t let them stay on the ground or anywhere else, as they may become soiled and dirty. Place your oxygen sensors that you removed in this container, and slowly pour gasoline into it as well from the gas can. The amount of gas that you pour should be sufficient to cover the oxygen sensors completely in fluid. Close the container’s lid, hold it in your hands, and swirl around. Make sure that you do not stir or shake it too vigorously. By doing this, the gas will move inside the container and enter each and every part of the sensors.


After you have sufficiently moved the gas inside the container, keep it down to let it rest. Leave the container in a cool and dry place, and let it sit overnight. This will be enough time to allow the gas to react with the dirt and settlements in the oxygen sensors, and loosen them up.


After letting the container to sit overnight, you can continue with the rest of the cleaning process. In the morning, lift the container again and swirl around to agitate the mixture once again.


Most of the dirt must have come off your oxygen sensors after being soaked in gasoline overnight. But if still some is left, you can take a medium sized, soft-bristled brush to clean them. Dip this brush in gasoline and gently scrub the sensors. Do not scrub too vigorously, as it can damage the surface of the sensors. By doing this, you will remove all the leftover sediment from your sensors.

How to Clean a Bad Oxygen Sensor - Step 10

Let the oxygen sensors dry completely for some time. You may also dry them quickly by dabbing a paper towel on them.


Go back under the car and fit the sensors back to their correct position. Grab a wrench and tighten all bolts, and ensure that they are secure in place.

Now you know how to clean an oxygen sensor, you'll be able to improve your car's performance and make sure it runs smoothly and make sure your car accelerates properly!

If you want to read similar articles to How to Clean a Bad Oxygen Sensor, we recommend you visit our Car Maintenance and Repair category.

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1 comment
Lou Ellen Curtis
1999 Taurus 24Valve DOHC
Seems pretty helpful. I was able to install one new sensor upstream from the cat convertor but cannot reach the wiring disconnect for the rear sensor so I either take it to a shop or try to clean it first. Was going to try some OTC treatment but the fuel tank is full and you cannot siphon gas out of it.
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How to Clean a Bad Oxygen Sensor