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The upstream oxygen sensor measures the amount of oxygen in the engine exhaust that is about to enter the catalytic converter. When this cross-counting voltage activity drops below a minimum level, the powertrain control module (PCM) may set the P0153 trouble code.

What Does the P0153 Code Mean?

Diagnostic trouble code (DTC) P0153 stands for “O2 Sensor Circuit Slow Response (Bank 2, Sensor 1).” 

Oxygen sensors issue high voltage signatures when they detect a rich air mixture and low voltage signatures when they encounter lean mixtures. An upstream oxygen sensor that doesn’t generate different voltage levels fast enough may have an issue that compromises its performance, resulting in this diagnostic trouble code.

catalytic converter of a car
Increased emission levels in the exhaust released by the catalytic converter are a common symptom of the P0153 code.

If the O2 sensor output is sluggish, the ECM/PCM knows it can’t be trusted to provide real time accurate information. O2 sensors get tired sometimes. That being said, many of them last the life of the vehicle.

The oxygen sensor covered by the P0153 is fitted between the cylinder head and the catalytic converter on bank 2. It checks the oxygen levels of the exhaust leaving the exhaust manifold and the PCM compares its reading with the signals coming from the oxygen sensor 2 behind the converter.

Note: Code P0153 is a generic code set by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). The vehicle’s manufacturer may define the code differently. In case of the latter, refer to the repair manual.

What are the Possible Causes of the P0153 Code?

You can trace the reduced cycling rate of an oxygen sensor’s cross-counting voltage activity to problems that affect either the device, engine performance or the exhaust system. The following issues can cause the PCM to set a P0153 code:

  • Bad or failing oxygen sensor
  • Oxygen sensor circuit problems (e.g., damaged wires or poor connections)
  • A rich or lean running engine  
  • A leak in the exhaust system
  • An issue with the PCM (e.g., software update required) 
undercarriage of a car
One of the possible causes of the P0153 code is a leak in the exhaust system.

What are the Common Symptoms of the P0153 Code?

Here are some of the usual symptoms you are likely to observe when the code P0153 is set by the PCM:

  • Activated or blinking check engine light
  • Increased emission levels in the exhaust released by the catalytic converter
  • Engine performance problems (e.g., rough running and lack of acceleration)

How to Diagnose the P0153 Code

Code P0153 points to a problem with the upstream O2 sensor on Bank 2, which is the bank opposite of where cylinder number 1 is located, regardless of the make of the vehicle.

If you’re dealing with any kind of concern you believe might be related to the upstream O2 sensor performance and you believe the sensor might need replacing, you can watch the sensor on the scan tool data screen with the throttle at about 1200 rpm and you should see about three switches from rich to lean per second, with the voltage range being at least from 0.2 to 0.8 volts or slightly greater. The downstream sensor will switch as well, only not as much and not as quickly, because it’s measuring O2 storage capacity of the catalytic converter nearest the engine on that bank.

The upstream O2 sensor will switch more slowly at idle much of the time, so you’ll need to monitor the sensor with the engine speed elevated and even record it while driving with the engine at highway cruise. Again, either record the pattern while driving using the scan tool record utility or have an assistant driving. Do not watch the scan tool screen while driving the vehicle or you could get into an accident.

How to Fix the P0153 Code

Even though many DTCs share symptoms and causes, that does not mean that they share solutions as well. The exact repair process will vary according to what set the code off and the affected vehicle’s make and model. For instance, the confirmed fixes for a P0153 in a Jeep are likely not the same for a Ford or Chevy.

Find out how to resolve the P0153 code by looking for a fix that’s specific to your vehicle and the problem that triggered the code. Once you’ve figured out the underlying cause, do some research on car forums (and other similar platforms⁠) to find the appropriate repair for your car⁠—make sure to include the code and your car’s year, make, and model when you do your search.

Make sure to consult online auto repair resources and guides or get an ALLDATA single-vehicle subscription to get detailed repair information for this code and any other repairs you may need to perform in the future.

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Any information provided on this Website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace consultation with a professional mechanic.

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