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What is a lambda probe and how does it work?

A lambda probe, also known as a lambda probe, is a small probe located on the car's exhaust, between the exhaust manifold and the catalytic converter. It was developed by Volvo in the 70's.

If you have a newer car, it will be equipped with 2 lambda sensors. In this case, the second sensor will be located just behind the catalytic converter.

What is it used for?

The lambda probe will adjust the amount of fuel sent to the engine cylinders by optimizing the fuel-air mixture, which in turn will ensure the correct operation of the engine. This will also affect the level of harmful gas emissions, ensuring proper operation catalyst .

Therefore, the lambda probe ensures that your car complies with European regulations on pollutants and CO2 emissions.

How it works?

Since the lambda probe is located in front of the catalytic converter, it can measure the amount of air and fuel in unburned hydrocarbons after combustion.

Thus, the electronic control unit (ECU) of the vehicle that controls some engine functions , will get the correct emission data and then deliver the exact amount of gas needed. This is essential for reducing pollutant emissions.

Damaged lambda probe?

If the lambda probe is broken, no data will be sent to the ECU, which will then use the wrong information. This will most likely increase fuel consumption and then emissions.

Eventually, this can lead to clogging of the catalyst, which will then have to be replaced.

Symptoms of a faulty lambda probe

  • An engine warning light will appear on the dashboard;
  • The car jerks when it starts
  • Extremely high fuel consumption
  • Low engine power during acceleration
  • Toxic gas emissions increase

When should the lambda probe be replaced?

The service life of the lambda probe is approximately 93 miles traveled. However, this time may be shorter depending on many factors that can damage it, mainly due to anomalies coming from the engine. Exhaust leaks can also damage the probe.

If you notice one of the above signs, we recommend that you visit a mechanic who can check if the fault is coming from the lambda probe. This is done with the car's diagnostic tool.

In the event that you need to take your car for service soon, remember that a damaged lambda probe will fail your car. Don't hesitate to compare car diagnostics offers from a nearby workshop or get a quote for a total lambda probe replacement .

Can I disconnect the lambda probe and continue to drive?

Driving without a lambda probe is highly inadvisable. The spare part ensures that your car does not emit more CO2 than allowed by EU regulations.

Moreover, even if you think your car will be more powerful, it won't be long as the catalytic converter will have a higher risk of clogging.

In addition, you will spend more money as disconnecting the lambda probe will increase fuel consumption by about 15%.