Oxygen sensors, commonly called O2 sensors, play a crucial role in how the engine control module or ECM runs modern vehicles. These sensors monitor the oxygen level in the exhaust gases so the ECM can provide an efficient fuel-air mixture. However, some people want to delete the O2 sensors to see if it can boost their performance.
Deleting O2 sensors from ECM is possible, and the vehicle will still run. Knowing where the O2 sensor is located is important to remove it from the vehicle easily. Still, it is vital to understand that this can tamper with the vehicle’s emissions and might not be beneficial as you think.
Our guide takes a keen look at the role of O2 sensors, the reasons that would make someone delete them, how to do it, and much more. We want you to have all the necessary information before proceeding.
Role of O2 Sensors in ECM
Oxygen sensors or O2 sensors are critical components of any vehicle. The work of O2 sensors is to monitor the oxygen level in exhaust gases. The ECM monitors the information from the O2 sensor to adjust the fuel-air mixture.
With this information, we find that it is possible to achieve optimal fuel efficiency, and the emissions are checked in modern vehicles.
When you have a faulty oxygen sensor, you can realize a significant impact on the vehicle’s performance. The most common would be inaccurate readings sent to the ECM, thus disrupting how the air-fuel mixture is done.
The results of having faulty O2 sensors include;
- Reduced fuel efficiency
- Emissions problems
- Engine performance issues
That is why people always run to replace the O2 sensors when they are faulty. They want to keep enjoying the good gas mileage and meet the emissions standards.
Here is a video with more information on the role of oxygen sensors
Reasons To Delete O2 Sensors from ECM
Clearly, we have seen that O2 sensors are vital for the performance of a vehicle. However, why do people still choose to delete them? Here are a couple of reasons this might be possible.
Performance Modifications or Aftermarket Upgrades
The O2 sensors can sometimes limit how many performance modifications you can do to the vehicle. That is why deleting the O2 sensors might be necessary before you make certain aftermarket upgrades.
Examples of such modifications include installing a new intake system, high-flow catalytic converter, headers, and more.
You may find that the stock O2 sensors cannot work with the new modifications. Once they are deleted, you can get better flexibility with customizing the engine and exhaust system.
Enhanced Engine Tuning
Still on performance, engine tuning is quite necessary to get the most power out of the vehicle’s engine. When you tune the ECM and the O2 sensor remains the same, the tune would not operate optimally since the ECM still gets the settings for the old tune. As such, it can be better to delete the O2 sensor.
Potential Gain In Torque And Horsepower
Some car enthusiasts believe they can easily increase horsepower and torque after removing the O2 sensor. Without the constraints or settings of the O2 sensor, it is possible to have maximum power output.
However, this might not always be true. The results can vary from one vehicle model to another, the tuning expertise, and overall modifications.
A lot more goes into getting more horsepower, including a better exhaust design and other engine components to get more power gains.
Issues With Sensor Failure
Understandably, O2 sensors can fail over time because of wear and tear. However, some cars tend to have consistent O2 sensor failures. Not many people want to deal with frequent replacement of such sensors. That is how some people opt to delete the O2 sensors from ECM to avoid such troubles.
Well, removing the O2 sensor can help save you some money by continually replacing the sensors, but what other effects does this do on your vehicle?
Potential Risks And Drawbacks
There may be potential benefits to having O2 sensors removed, however, there are risks and drawbacks too.
What most people may not know is that O2 sensors help curb emissions. Once you remove such sensors, there can be legal implications as your car is now non-compliant with the emission standards.
Some jurisdictions may have fines and penalties for people not meeting the emission standards. Some places can also ban registering new vehicles until a certain period is over.
So, first, understand such implications in your area to know whether it is worth removing the O2 sensors.
Impact on Fuel Economy
The car’s ECM relies on the information from the oxygen sensor to determine the right fuel-air mixture. Now that you have deleted the O2 sensors, it means this information is no longer available. This definitely impacts the fuel economy.
Many people have reported to having worse fuel economy after they have removed the O2 sensors. Still, your vehicle releases more emissions into the environment, which is not what you want.
Diagnosis Future Engine Issues Becomes Hard
The O2 sensors provide valuable data that help in diagnosing engine problems. This is essential to know if there is an issue with the vehicle.
Sometimes removing such sensors means no vital information is being read from the engine. As such, troubleshooting and resolving some engine issues can be hard without the O2 sensor data.
Depending on the age of the vehicle, it is possible to void the warranty on your vehicle when you start deleting such important sensors. Most manufacturers will explicitly state what actions make voiding the warranty possible.
Other than voiding the warranty, you will potentially also damage the vehicle when removing the O2 sensors. This could lead to expensive repairs, especially when new parts are required.
Steps to Remove O2 Sensors from ECM
We have given you as many details as possible on O2 sensors and their importance. However, if you still want to remove them, here is a quick guide to help with that.
- Wrench or socket set
- Safety gloves
- Safety glasses
- Penetrating oil (if necessary)
- Jack and Jack stands
- Wire brush or sandpaper
- Locate the O2 sensors of your vehicle. Expect to find them along the exhaust system. You can find them before or after the catalytic converter.
- Make sure the engine and exhaust system have had enough time to cool before you can remove the O2 sensor.
- Proceed to disconnect the electrical connector from the O2 sensor. You may have to gently press or squeeze the connector’s release tab.
- Use a wrench or sock to loosen and remove the O2 sensor from the exhaust system. Sometimes it might be necessary to use penetrating oil to remove the stubborn or rusted sensor threads.
- You can now carefully remove the sensor from the mounting location. Take care not to damage it.
- Simply repeat the process for each O2 sensor you need to remove.
Preserving and Storing The Removed O2 Sensors
You may replace or use the O2 sensors later. How would you make sure they remain in good condition? Below are tips for preserving and storing the O2 sensors.
- Clean the sensor threads using sandpaper or write brush. This helps to remove as much dirt as possible.
- Keep the O2 sensors in a clean and dry container to protect them from contamination and moisture.
- You can still seal the container to keep dust and other particles away
- Avoid dropping or mishandling the O2 sensors as they are delicate and can be damaged easily.
Alternatives to Complete O2 Sensor Removal
We can clearly see the importance of having O2 sensors in your vehicle. So, what are the alternatives to complete O2 sensor removal?
Sensor stimulator modules
These electronic devices can mimic the signals produced by O2 sensors and can be installed in place of O2 sensors. As such, the ECM will still get the necessary information it needs and run the engine as if it was getting the information from the sensors.
As you can see, the vehicle will keep working as expected and can be good at maintaining proper fuel efficiency and passing emission tests.
O2 Sensor Spacers or Defoulers
You can still consider such mechanical devices installed between the exhaust system and the O2 sensor. Their job is to modify the sensor’s position and alter the readings provided to the ECM.
Sensor spacers are used when you need to work with high-flow catalytic converts or headers, which require the O2 sensors to be far from the exhaust stream. If no modification is done, then you end up with incorrect readings.
Consult A Professional Tuner
When you doubt whether you should delete O2 sensors, you can consult a professional tuner or mechanic to see if it is a must. These people deal with tuning the engine to make it run efficiently and get more power. It is from their advice you can know how to proceed. Sometimes it is not a must to delete O2 sensors to get the best performance.
Is it legal to delete O2 sensors from a vehicle?
The legality largely depends on the jurisdiction. In many places, tampering with the emission systems, such as removing O2 sensors, is illegal. This can lead to being fined or face other legal consequences. Research more about this topic in your area to be on the right side of the law.
Do you need to retune the engine after deleting the O2 sensors?
It is necessary to retune the ECM to work without the sensors. Normally, it relies on the information from the oxygen sensor to deliver an efficient fuel-air mixture ratio. Now that it is not there, the ECM needs a tune to optimize engine performance without sensor input.
Can the O2 sensors be reinstalled to make the car emissions compliant?
Yes, you can do that. So long as you have not tuned the engine after removal of the O2 sensor, it is easy to reinstall it into this position. It will not take long before you have the sensors back into the exhaust system. You can take the vehicle for a test drive, and you will like the fuel economy once again.
You must carefully consider the decision to remove O2 sensors from ECM since it has other consequences. There is a risk of damaging the vehicle and voiding the warranty. That is not something anyone wants. Car enthusiasts may consider removing O2 sensors to get more power and performance. However, that is not always the result. We recommend working with a professional tuner or mechanic to understand the effects of removing O2 sensors and if it is still worth it.