How to Clean an Oxygen Sensor on a Corolla

by Alibaster Smith

Cleaning an oxygen sensor on a Toyota Corolla is not a common practice because, normally, the sensor is simply replaced when it goes bad. However, cleaning the sensor can be done as a temporary stop-gap measure if you cannot afford a new sensor. There is no guarantee that cleaning the sensor will make it work again or that the check engine light will go off and stop throwing error codes for your emissions system. There is also a risk of permanently damaging the sensor by cleaning it. However, as a last-ditch effort, it is possible to clean the oxygen sensor on a Corolla.

Step 1

Raise the Corolla onto jack stands. Place a floor jack under the front jack point behind the radiator and jack up on the Corolla.

Step 2

Place jack stands underneath the front pinch welds and lower the Corolla onto the stands.

Step 3

Remove the electrical plug running to the O2 sensor. A sensor is located before and after the catalytic converter. Remove the electrical wiring by squeezing the release tab on the plug and pulling it out of the O2 sensor.

Step 4

Turn the sensor counterclockwise with an O2 sensor removal tool and pull the sensor out of the exhaust.

Step 5

Hold the oxygen sensor with vice grips and heat the end of the sensor with a propane torch until the tip turns a little red, but don't let the tip "glow" bright red or orange.

Step 6

Douse the tip of the heated oxygen sensor into a bucket of cold water after you've heated it. This action will help to break up the carbon deposits that have built up on the sensor.

Step 7

Repeat steps 5 and 6 one more time and then allow the sensor to cool completely before re-installing it. Installation is the reverse of removal.

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