...Continued from the previous page.
With the engine running, spray a little carburetor cleaner into a vacuum hose (that has engine vacuum) while you observe your scan tool's display screen.
You're not going to be able to spray carb cleaner into the throttle as the engine is running, because if you were to do this, the engine will die as soon as you disconnect the air duct from it (to spray into it).
If you spray too much, the engine will stall. If this happens to you, just restart the engine and repeat the step and spray less carb cleaner spray.
As you spray some short burst of carb cleaner into the vacuum hose, you should see the voltage numbers of O2S11 immediately spike to 0.800 to 0.900 Volts. And as long as you're spraying, these voltage numbers should stay there.
When you stop spraying, the O2 sensor values should come down and within a few seconds, they should start oscillating between 0.100 Volts to 0.900 Volts. If they don't, don't worry about it yet.
OK, the test is done, let's take a look at what your test results mean:
CASE 1: O2S11 voltage numbers spiked to 0.900 Volts when you sprayed carb spray into the vacuum hose. This tells you that the oxygen sensor is OK at this point in time. It does not need to be replaced, since whatever's causing the PCM to think it's fried is something else.
For more info on this, go to the section: Oxygen Sensor Codes Keep Coming Back.
CASE 2: O2S11 voltage numbers DID NOT spike to 0.900 Volts when you sprayed carb spray into the vacuum hose. This confirms that Bank 1 Oxygen Sensor 1 is no longer working. You can replace the oxygen sensor.
Oxygen Sensor Codes Keep Coming Back
So you tested the oxygen sensor and they tested good or you have already replace one or both and yet the PCM keeps accusing them as being bad (which also means that the check engine light is back on).
When this happens, it's usually due to either a Rich condition or Lean condition that's being caused by some other component on the engine.
What sucks about this, is that whatever is causing the Rich or Lean condition is not present all of the time (specially when you're conducting the tests). This happens quite a bit. The strategy here is to wait a few days for the condition (that's causing the O2 sensor issues) to get worse. When this occurs, you'll be able to test it and solve it.
Symptoms Of A Bad Oxygen Sensor
The effects of a bad oxygen sensor can be very subtle since they usually do not cause serious drive-ability problems. Here are the most common symptoms:
- The check engine light (CEL) will be illuminated on your instrument cluster.
- The diagnostic trouble codes lighting up the CEL usually are:
- P0131 Upstream Heated Oxygen Sensor (O2S11) Circuit Out Of Range Low Voltage (Bank 1).
- P0133 Upstream Heated Oxygen Sensor (O2S11) Circuit Slow Response (Bank 1).
- Really bad gas mileage.
- Won't pass state mandated emission testing.
More Test Articles
I've written quite a few 2.4L ‘how to’ tutorials that may help you troubleshoot the issues on your 2.4L Nissan Altima, Xterra, Frontier. You can find the complete list at: Nissan 2.4L Index Of Articles.
Here's a sample of the Nissan 2.4L articles you'll find:
- How To Test Engine Compression (Nissan 2.4L, 2.5L).
- How To Test The Fuel Injectors (Nissan 2.4L).
- How To Troubleshoot A Blown Head Gasket (Nissan 2.4L, 2.5L).
- How To Test The Ignition System: 2.4L Nissan Altima (1993-1997) (at easyautodiagnostics.com).
If this info saved the day, buy me a beer!