Have you ever noticed how BMW vehicles would powerfully rev up, accelerate or run through highways? All that power is brought by the high quality and high performance BMW engines that they are equipped with. But BMW engines cannot produce power all by themselves. For the combustion process to beginthat is, for the power production process to beginthe engine must be fed with raw materials in the form of air and fuel. And that's for power production alone. For maximum power production, BMW engines need the proper mixture of air and fuel.
The proper ratio of air to fuel that must be fed to the engine is 14.7:1. For this ratio to be maintained, the engine management computer continuously adjusts the amount of fuel it will feed to the engine. But for the engine management computer to properly do so, it needs information on how much air is being fed to the engine. In your BMW, the component that provides the computer with this data is the BMW oxygen sensor.
The BMW oxygen sensor is a small electronic sensor inserted into the exhaust system of gasoline-powered BMW vehicles. Prior to the introduction of OBD II in 1995, most petrol powered vehicles were equipped with only one or two oxygen sensors that were attached to the exhaust manifold. After the implementation of the OBD II, however, the number of O2 sensors used in vehicles doubled, with the added sensors used downstream the catalytic converter to measure its performance.
The primary function of oxygen sensors is to measure the amount of oxygen remaining in the exhaust gas. After doing so, the sensor relays this information to the engine management computer through voltage signals. From these signals, the engine management computer would base its fuel adjustments. So in the event that the BMW oxygen sensor fails, the engine management computer of your BMW will be left guessing as to the amount of oxygen being fed to the engine. In such cases, the computer would end up giving off more fuel than what the engine actually needs, thus increasing fuel consumption, increasing the amount of harmful exhausts produced and decreasing the efficiency of the engine and the catalytic converter.
BMW Oxygen Sensor Buyer's Guide
- Oxygen (O2) sensors help better manage the air-fuel ratio (AFR) in the engine to reduce emissions.
- Lean AFR produces higher amounts of nitrogen-oxide, while a rich mixture results in more carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons.
- Bad BMW oxygen sensor symptoms include a triggered check engine light, unusual engine performance, reduced fuel mileage, and diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs) such as P0160 and P1176 through P1181.
- The type of oxygen sensor you would need to get would depend on your BMW's model and year.
- At CarParts.com, individual aftermarket oxygen sensors can cost anywhere from $17 to $259. On the other hand, original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts are known to cost about 60 percent more on average.
Starting out in the 1900s as aircraft engine manufacturer Bayerische Motoren Werke, BMW switched to the production of motorcycles, then automobiles, after the First World War. By 1954, BMW vehicles started to be imported and sold in the United States. Today, the company is known not just for being a luxury brand but also for its high-performance vehicles.
The Clean Air Act, which the U.S. Congress passed in 1970, finally came into effect in 1975. This was the same year that BMW opened its first official dealership in the country. The policy saw the impelementation of emissions standards for vehicles. This regulation limited the amount of toxic fumes vehicles were allowed to generate from burning fuel. Through the years, the standards became more stringent. Other countries also began to implement their own emissions standards.
BMW Oxygen Sensor
In response to the emissions regulations, automakers sought ways to ensure that their vehicles were compliant. This resulted in the creation of various emissions control technologies and designs. One of these technologies is the oxygen (O2) sensor. It helps better manage the air-fuel ratio (AFR) in the engine for reduced emissions.
Housed inside the sensor is an element that reacts to oxygen. It generates a certain amount of electric charge depending on the number of oxygen molecules in the exhaust. This charge is sent to the vehicle's computer, which then interprets it into voltage. Based on the information, the amount of oxygen in the exhaust is determined and the computer sets how much air or fuel gets into the engine.
When the AFR is lean, meaning there is not enough fuel in the mixture, the combustion produces higher amounts of nitrogen-oxide. On the other hand, when the mixture is rich, more carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons are made as the fuel is burned. With the help of the oxygen sensor, the vehicle's computer can adjust the air and fuel intake to create the proper ratio. Not only does this reduce harmful emissions, it also optimizes combustion for better engine performance.
Bad BMW Oxygen Sensor Symptoms
A failing BMW O2 sensor would not generate the correct voltage, and the vehicle's computer will be unable to set the right air and fuel intake the engine needs. Some of the signs that the oxygen sensor is going bad include:
- Triggered check engine light due to irregular sensor readings
- Unusual engine performance such as rough idling, hesitating on acceleration, misfiring, and being underpowered
- Reduced fuel mileage caused by incorrect AFR
- BMW O2 sensor codes or diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs) such as P0160 and P1176 through P1181.
BMW Oxygen Sensor Replacement
The type of oxygen sensor you would need to get would depend on your BMW's model and year. It is possible that a BMW X3 oxygen sensor would not work as a BMW 325i oxygen sensor replacement. Also, the 1998 BMW 528i oxygen sensor’s design might not match that of a 2000 BMW 528i oxygen sensor.
BMW Oxygen Sensor Replacement Cost
Some of the factors that affect the BMW oxygen sensor price include its brand, fit, type, and location. At CarParts.com, aftermarket oxygen sensors that are sold individually can cost anywhere from $17 to $259. On the other hand, original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts are known to cost about 60 percent more on average.
Closer Look at BMW Oxygen Sensor
Replacing your BMW oxygen sensor is a fairly simple repair, one that you can do yourself at home with a basic tool set and a bit of self-confidence. The BMW oxygen sensor is a sensitive automotive part, and is important to keeping your combustion system at its best, as well as serving to help you reduce some of the environmentally dangerous emissions produced by the combustion engine that relies on petroleum based fuels for its power. Located within the exhaust system, immediately after the combustion system, the BMW oxygen sensor measures the amount of oxygen in the exhaust after the fuel burn. The level of oxygen remaining is an indicator of the quality of the burn, and if the quality of burn is poor, indicated by the BMW oxygen sensor finding too much oxygen present, the engine is not using the fuel as efficiently as it could. Not only does the inefficient use of fuel deprive the engine of the power that could have been gained if that fuel had been properly burned, but also produces an excess of emissions, and so the BMW oxygen sensor signals the main computer of the vehicle, which, in turn, adjusts the air-to-fuel ratio in order to achieve that better burn. A malfunctioning or failed BMW oxygen sensor is likely to end up with your vehicle running on an air-to-fuel mixture that is fuel heavy, and the excess emissions produced can cause harm to the catalytic converter, causing it to fail much sooner than it normally would, as well as cause you to spend more money for fuel as it reduces the number of miles you get to the gallon. When the air-to-fuel ratio is off, you can expect poor vehicle performance and rough running, so it is a good idea to replace your BMW oxygen sensor as soon as possible, if there is a problem with it. You can order your BMW oxygen sensor from our catalog, placing your order online or with a toll-free phone call.