Most countries have stringent laws that dictate how much an individual vehicle may pollute the atmosphere. These laws have been in place for some time, and car manufacturers have risen to the challenge in order to ensure that their vehicles are always in compliance. Several individual components are placed within the vehicle to monitor and adjust these emissions, and one of them that you may never have come across is called the lambda sensor. What is this, and why you need to ensure that it is always in good working order?
Understanding the Lambda Sensor
A lambda sensor will typically be placed in between the exhaust manifold and the catalytic converter. It will be able to measure the raw emissions coming from the engine before they are managed by the catalytic converter and will send a signal to the ECU accordingly. The ECU will make alterations to the fuel-to-air ratio as needed based on the feedback from the sensor, with the aim of cutting down harmful emissions as much as possible.
Some vehicles are equipped with a second sensor in between the catalytic converter and the tailpipe. This will also send a signal to the ECU to report on the efficiency of the cat itself.
Sensor in Action
This type of sensor is critical to the operation of the vehicle, and it can also act as an early warning system. If the exhaust happens to develop a leak, for example, then the sensor will immediately warn of an anomaly, and the ECU will trigger a dashboard warning light. The sensor can also alert the driver to the need for a car service if, for example, the catalytic converter becomes blocked. Once again, this will affect the exhaust emissions, and the sensor will help to trigger a warning light. Whenever you see such a light illuminated on your dashboard, you need to take action to avoid further damage.
Time for a Service
High emissions are not just a problem for the environment, but they can have a considerable impact on your vehicle performance. You may notice that the car feels very sluggish when trying to overtake a slower vehicle or may return particularly high fuel consumption for no apparent reason. This can be an indication of issues with the catalytic converter or, indeed, a faulty lambda sensor. You should take the vehicle in for a service to rectify the problem as soon as possible.