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Old 07-04-2010, 10:57 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Does anyone know what a bad O2 Sensor actually looks like?

OK, this morning on my way to church the CEL (Check Engine Light) came on so I stopped by AutoZone on my way home and had them pull the code. P1164 "Primary H02S (no 1) circuit range/performance Probable cause" which has been talked about ad nauseam here so I won't redo that one. Anyway, the O2 sensor is not all that difficult to remove so I pulled it out and snapped off a couple of pictures.

This website (How to Test an O2 Sensor | eHow.com) suggests that a color other than tan means a likely bad O2 sensor (but they say it should still be tested). As you can see from the three images I uploaded, one side is grey, the other white and the top dark grey. I'm assuming the different colors are due to different exposure points. At any rate, there is nothing nowhere near tan on the O2 sensor.

My research says that a propane enrichment test needs to be performed to deduce whether it's truly the O2 sensor, and I'll call the shop tomorrow to see how much they want to charge for that little bout of fun.

Does anyone have any input? I've seen a couple threads on here where folks replaced their O2 sensors (LAF) only to have that kick off an expensive fight with their cars. Those all seemed to accompany multiple codes and in my case I only have this one. I'd hate to replace this thing @ $280 (DIY costs) just to find out it wasn't the issue.

- I've checked the wiring on the sensor (all good)
- I've checked the K & N air filter (peachy, no blocks)
- Awhile back (30k miles ago) I cleaned the EGR valve to fix bucking but I've noticed on occasion it has begun to do it again (but only once in a while).
- The car threw a P1456 code a month ago but that went away on it's own.
- I just did a 3,700 mile move cross country (it's amazing how much stuff you can fit in these little guys).
- The car has 145k on it, so it's well overdue for the O2 sensor to go out (I hear 100k lifespan)
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Old 07-05-2010, 07:31 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by travisgarrison View Post
My research says that a propane enrichment test needs to be performed to deduce whether it's truly the O2 sensor...

Yup! If your O2 sensor is in 1 piece (including wire connectors on _both_ sides of the plug) then testing is the only way to confirm its failure short of replacement and seeing if the problem goes away.

And if your research here revealed anything, remember that such a code can be a reflection of combustion efficiency. Anything that "upsets" that balance will push a good sensor to code.

Freeze frame data along with this code is another essential diagnostic step.

HTH!
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Last edited by Insightful Trekker; 07-05-2010 at 11:57 AM.
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Old 07-06-2010, 12:32 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I called Walker Products and spoke with their tech guy. He told me that their part number 250-25055 is actually just purchased and re-branded from NTK "because the 5-wire LAF sensors are proprietary from them and Bosch."

Can anyone confirm whether that part works on the 5 speed MT? I vaguely remember someone saying that the 4 wire (for the CVT) from walker didn't work on the 5MT. I suppose if it's just the OEM one re-branded then there's no reason why it wouldn't work... I just thought I would try to get some confirmation.

By way of update. I reset the CEL and it hasn't popped back up. If it does throw another code then I'll have the shop throw it on the meter to see if its the sensor. The cheapest dealer price I've found is $296 after shipping, and if this walker product pans out it'll cost about half that!
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Old 07-06-2010, 01:33 PM   #4 (permalink)
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You cannot check an o2 sensor just by looking at it.
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Old 07-07-2010, 12:18 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by talonmike View Post
You cannot check an o2 sensor just by looking at it.
Well talonmike,

You might be right but Walker Products (manufacturer/distributor of the O2 sensor on the car) disagrees with you (Technical Support)

And so does this guy (How to Test an O2 Sensor | eHow.com)

Besides, common sense will tell you that if you pull an oxygen sensor and it's missing the element head altogether or some kind of obvious physical damage then it should be replaced "just by looking at it".

With that said, perhaps what you're trying to say is that even with physical discoloration a definitive test is made by a propane enrichment test, with a scope or an accurate volt meter.

If I might offer a suggestion, typically when you make a statement with unqualified dogmatic force you will more than likely cause your listener to want to prove you wrong rather than heed your advice.
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Old 07-07-2010, 02:17 AM   #6 (permalink)
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OK, I talked with Bosch and the part below from their site is listed as the correct sensor for the 2000 Insight... the 2001 has the same 5 wire design so even though they list 15394 on the 2001, I would still go with this part for any 5 wire design. My check engine light hasn't come back on but I'm gonna go with either this or the Walker one I listed above if it comes back on and the oscilliscope confirms a bad/slow O2 sensor. I'll let you know what I come up with.

PN: 15393 Wideband A/F Sensor - OE Type - Exact Fit - Upstream Sensor 5 Wire; Wideband A/F; Check / Replace Interval: 100,000 Miles L3 1.0 (61) ECA1 HYBRID

PS - After talking with both Bosch and Walker, I think the reason that some others have had such poor luck with non-OEM O2 sensors is that they got the wrong application (in some cases 4 sensor and in others fleaBay knockoffs that perhaps were not wideband...) that's just a guess though, so feel free to offer evidence to the counter.

PPS- I have a 2001 MT if that's not clear.

Last edited by travisgarrison; 07-07-2010 at 02:18 AM. Reason: grammar
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Old 07-07-2010, 10:10 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Like a sparkplug, the os2 sensor can tell you if you a a problem with your engine. The o2 sensor may be clean and not working. If your o2 sensor was destroyed by lead, or prestone or other, you willhave to fix your engine first, because you will destroy also de new one.


Your site is just saying that certain condition of your engine may destroy the sensor. You cannot tell if an o2 sensor is good just by looking a it.

Last edited by talonmike; 07-07-2010 at 10:14 AM.
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