Can Cleaning Oxygen Sensors in My Car Improve Gas Mileage?

QuestionsCategory: Ask An ExpertCan Cleaning Oxygen Sensors in My Car Improve Gas Mileage?
Jessica Wilson asked 5 months ago
I recently started working on my friend's 2004 Acura MDX, which has about 133,000 miles on it. She's been experiencing poor gas mileage, and without a clear service history, I decided to give the vehicle a tune-up. This includes replacing spark plugs, cleaning the throttle body, and checking the air filter. Since I need to replace a leaking flex pipe and remove the upstream O2 sensors (which I forgot to apply anti-seize to during a previous catalytic converter replacement), I'm considering cleaning these sensors. They don't seem faulty, but their replacement history is unknown. I've heard of various cleaning methods, such as using carb cleaner, MAF/brake cleaner, or even soaking the sensor in gasoline. What is the best approach to clean an O2 sensor without causing damage, and can this actually improve the vehicle's gas mileage?
1 Answers
Zack Norman Staff answered 5 months ago
Hey there, Jessica! You've got quite a task ahead with your car! When it comes to cleaning O2 sensors, there are a few points to consider, so here's what I'd recommend that you do:
  1. Effectiveness of Cleaning: Generally, cleaning O2 sensors is not widely recommended. The delicate nature of these sensors means that any cleaning attempt can potentially cause more harm than good.
  2. Cleaning Methods: If you decide to proceed, avoid using harsh chemicals like carb cleaner. These can leave residues that might impair sensor function. Some mechanics recommend soaking in gasoline or using specific O2 sensor cleaners, but results can vary.
  3. Impact on Mileage: Clean O2 sensors can indeed improve gas mileage, as they provide accurate readings for the fuel-air mixture. However, if the sensors aren't the root cause of the mileage issue, cleaning them might not have a noticeable impact.
  4. Replacement vs. Cleaning: Given the age and mileage of your vehicle, if you're unsure about the sensors' history, it might be more effective to replace them. New sensors will provide accurate readings and could be a more reliable fix for your mileage concerns.
  5. Other Factors: Since you're already doing a tune-up, ensure to address other potential factors affecting gas mileage, such as spark plug condition, air filter cleanliness, and overall engine health.
Keep in mind: If you're not entirely comfortable with sensor cleaning, consulting a professional might be your best bet. Zack - Motor Verso Mechanics Team