How to Clean Oxygen Sensors

by Jeff Wysaski

Your car's oxygen sensor is a vital component of the exhaust system. Over time, oil, fuel and coolant can cause soot and other contaminants to build up within the sensor, which results in reduced performance that eventually leads to inefficient combustion of gasoline in the engine. If your O2 sensor has become corroded, you should simply purchase a new one. However, if you're looking to save a few bucks, you can also try cleaning your current oxygen sensor to improve its performance.

Step 1

Remove your oxygen sensor from the engine. For instructions on how to do this, please see the Resources section.

Step 2

Inspect the oxygen sensor. If any visual damage is found, then no amount of cleaning will help restore its function. Discard it and buy a new one. If the sensor looks normal, continue to the next step.

Step 3

Fill your container with gasoline and place the O2 sensor inside. You only need enough gas to submerge the entire O2 filter.

Step 4

Close the container. Then gently rotate the container so that the gasoline swirls inside. This allows the liquid to wash through the sensor.

Step 5

Let the sensor sit in the gasoline overnight. In the morning, rotate the container again to re-agitate the gasoline.

Step 6

Remove the oxygen sensor and dry it with a paper towel. You will probably want to wear rubber gloves to keep the gasoline from getting on your hands. Reinstall the sensor into your engine.

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