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Your Vehicle’s Check Engine Light

August 27, 2008

Pay prompt attention to prevent costly repairs.

BROADVIEW, IL /PRNewswire/ -- Imagine cruising down the road and the Check Engine light suddenly appears on your vehicle's dashboard. Unless there is an immediate change in your vehicle's driving performance, you probably have no reason to panic. On the other hand, if you ignore it and continue to drive without having an automotive technician check it sometime soon, you may be setting yourself up for a hefty repair bill.

"Even if the Check Engine light is on but not flashing (which means it demands immediate attention), give it a closer look if you want to save on costlier repairs down the road," said Warren Suter, Director, Engine Management Systems, Bosch Automotive Aftermarket.

According to Suter, a worn out oxygen sensor often is the culprit, and changing it may cost a lot less than replacing damaged engine components.

Bosch, one of the world's largest suppliers of automotive parts and systems, developed the automotive oxygen sensor in 1976.

Your vehicle's oxygen sensor measures the amount of oxygen in the exhaust and signals the engine's computer to adjust the air-fuel ratio to ensure that combustion is as complete as possible. This continuous process optimizes engine performance and fuel efficiency and reduces harmful emissions. A vehicle can have between one and four oxygen sensors at various locations in the exhaust stream, depending on the make, model, and year.

If the oxygen sensor is worn out and fails to assess the air-fuel ratio accurately, the engine's computer tries to accommodate the perceived variation and, in the process, may adjust the mixture too lean or too rich. The result? Possible damage to the catalytic converter and other major components, which may translate into $1000 or more in repairs.

Compare that with the average cost of replacing a worn-out oxygen sensor. It may be as little as $100 for diagnosis, parts, and labor or, more commonly, $200 to $300, depending on the vehicle.

Furthermore, if you take into consideration other benefits associated with having a fresh oxygen sensor, such as cleaner emissions and, more important, higher gas mileage—up to 40%, according to the Car Care Council—the choice is obvious.

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