Lambda sensor: Know how to choose the best one for your car in 2021
If you want to change your car’s lambda sensor, you are in the right place! Has he been in trouble and do you suspect that this little piece may be the cause? Then we will bring you all the necessary information!
The lambda probe is the part responsible for making the perfect mix between air and fuel in an automotive engine. When it does not work well or is unsuitable, the car may experience several problems. Therefore, anyone who cares about their car must have full knowledge of how to choose the best model possible.
First, the most important
- The lambda probe is an important component of a car, responsible for measuring the proportions between air and fuel in the combustion of the engine.
- The improper functioning of the lambda probe can cause increased consumption, problems for the environment and damage to the engine.
- There are several types of lambda probe, with the most common being planar, currently dominant in the market after the advent of flex cars.
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The best lambda probe models: Our opinion
We know you want to see your car in perfect working order and we decided to help you: We tested and selected some of the best lambda probe models available on the market! Below, you know them better:
- A great four-wire lambda probe
- A great broadband lambda probe
- For those who want high compatibility
Do you know exactly what a lambda probe is for? What benefits does the perfect functioning of this component bring to your car? What are the differences between types and materials?
The buying guide is the section of our text where you know all these answers!
What is a lambda probe and what is it for?
Every combustion engine, like those found in most automobiles, needs two basic elements to function: fuel and oxygen. But what is the correct ratio between them for the best possible performance? And which component regulates the mixing process?
This is exactly the function of the lambda probe in a vehicle. It is a sensor that has the function of always measuring the proportions of fuel and oxygen that are generating the burn that makes the engine run. If something is not according to the factory program, it immediately reports the problem.
The lambda probe is important in all fuel cars. Since the flex models became popular, it has become even more essential to have them, since the proportions necessary for the operation of the gasoline and ethanol engines are different.
Did you know that lambda is a Greek letter used in physics and chemistry notations? And it is not by chance that she named this automobile part: In the formula that calculates the volume of air in a combustion, it is exactly responsible for indicating the amount of oxygen.
The creation of the lambda probe, made by Volvo in the 1970s, just reused the formula to name the part that would do the same calculation in practice!
What problems can the car have if the lambda probe doesn’t work well?
There are several problems that can happen with the lambda probe malfunctioning. The main and most obvious of these is the increase in consumption. After all, if the oxygen-to-fuel ratio is not ideal, it is natural for the engine to “drink” a lot more than it should.
The natural thing is that the lambda probe defect causes the mixture to have more fuel, not more oxygen. This also makes the burning more intense, producing more air pollution.
Other problems that usually result from lambda probe failures are changes in idling, which do not respond as well as the right mixing ratios, and possible defects both in the catalyst and in other parts of the engine.
What are the advantages of changing your car’s lambda sensor?
The lambda probe wears out naturally with use and has a limited service life. The vehicles have in their instruction manuals guidelines on what mileage they should be changed. The number varies between 50 thousand and 160 thousand km.
But what are the advantages of actually making this lambda probe change? First, you prevent problems like the ones mentioned above from happening. It will save a lot of fuel, since consumption does not grow, and avoids pollution of the environment.
Another important issue is the increase in engine life. As failures in the lambda probe can damage other parts, replacing it is important in order not to harm precisely the most important part of the car.
Changing the lambda probe when necessary is a fundamental act and must be done when necessary. From 30 thousand kilometers of travel, it is always necessary to observe in what state it is.
It may seem like an unnecessary expense, but in fact, the exchange helps your pocket a lot by reducing consumption and increasing the life of the engine.
Below are the main advantages of changing the lambda probe:
- Reduces car fuel consumption
- Generates less air pollution
- Makes less spending on various sectors
- Extends engine life
- It is not necessary to change before the specified mileage
What are the types of lambda probe?
There are three main ways to categorize lambda probes. The first is the size of the band, which is divided into wide or narrow:
- Narrow band lambda probe: It works in a very simple way, evaluating combustion only in the stoichiometric range and ignoring the rest of the firing process.
- Broadband lambda probe: It is the one that makes the complete evaluation of the burning process, in each of its stages and in each engine operation, as slow or fast. Make a complete diagnosis of combustion and point out any problems.
Broadband lambda probes, however, are still quite rare. The narrowband ones, which calculate the proportions of air and fuel immediately after burning, dominate the market. And they can be common (also called fingers) or planar.
We prepared a table comparing the fingers and planar probes:
Are lambda probes compatible with all vehicles?
You may be wondering now if it is possible to buy any lambda probe available on the market and install it on your vehicle. The answer is no.
The lambda probe must be compatible with the type that comes standard on the vehicle.
The lambda probe must be compatible with the type that comes standard in your vehicle within the categories mentioned above, that is, broadband or narrowband, common or planar, with one, three or four wires.
If you know that the probe used in the car model is, for example, planar, you can install a copy of any brand. But it will not be possible to use a simple three-wire probe in this case, as there will be no compatibility.
That is why Australian Omega owners had very serious problems with the lambda probe: It was the only car in the world that used a common, two-wire specimen.
How much does it cost and where to buy a lambda probe?
The values of the lambda probes vary according to the types in which they fall. We find models in ranges from R $ 150 to R $ 350.
Stores specializing in multiple auto parts or authorized dealers are good shopping options for lambda sensors. However, you can also make your purchase over the internet. We recommend the Amazon. Also check out Amazon.
Purchasing criteria: Factors for choosing a lambda probe
If you need to change your vehicle’s lambda sensor and you already know which models are compatible with it, you still have a choice to make. To help you with it, we have selected some technical criteria:
- Heater resistance
Below, we talk more about each of them!
The resistance of the heater of a lambda probe is measured in Ohms (Ω) and indicates how much it can withstand in the event of an overheating of the engine. The higher it is, the less likely it is to have problems because of the high temperatures it has.
Common type probes usually have resistances ranging from 2Ω to 5Ω. As planar is an evolution in almost every way, there are already much better numbers with them. It is possible to find models from 8Ω to 14Ω.
If you are in doubt between two similar lambda probes for your car, this can be a good criterion for the decision!
There are two basic materials used in lambda probes: titanium oxide and zirconium oxide. Each of them has its advantages and disadvantages.
Zirconium probes have a slow response time, but a lot of durability.
The zirconium oxide probe works almost in a binary way, identifying whether the mixture is ideal, rich or poor. It has a slightly slow response time, however, it has exceptional mechanical strength and durability in general.
It is the opposite of a titanium oxide lambda probe, which works with more technology and reports very quickly any type of problem, but goes far from having the same type of resistance. Efficiency is higher, durability is lower.
You may be wondering how a lambda probe is housed in an automobile. The part is installed in the exhaust manifold of the engine, where you can make the measurements of the gases that have just left the engine. However, how is it arrested?
There are two types of housing for the lambda probe: by screw or by flange. The first is simpler and can possibly cause some positioning problem, while the second, much more worked, guarantees better sealing and fixation. It is more expensive, but of superior quality.
If you do not have mechanical knowledge, we do not recommend that you try to change a lambda probe yourself. This can cause damage to the car and cause much more money to be spent in the workshop.
But if you already know how to operate a car, you can opt for a simpler lambda probe, for example, by screw, to save that workshop money. A good solution for people with prior knowledge of mechanics!
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