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$300 to replace an O2 sensor?

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by wahoowad, Oct 17, 2007.

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  1. wahoowad

    wahoowad Minister of Fire

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    Took my 2003 Silverado to the dealer for a couple concerns. One was a generic engine light that would not go off. They said it would be $79.95 to read the code. Damn that smarts. Then, after they read it (which took only a few minutes) they said I had a bad O2 sensor. Total repair would be $300 including the code read. So I guess that means $220 to repalce an O2 sensor? Sounds really high - almost like a scam high. Jesus h christ. Anybody get an O2 sensor repaired lately and know the cost? I need to call around and get a non-dealer to repalce it.

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  2. babalu87

    babalu87 New Member

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    Buy yourself a code reader and it pays for itself after one or two uses, often codes can be reset and they never happen again.
  3. wahoowad

    wahoowad Minister of Fire

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    oh classic, we can't use the word j.e.s.u.s around here.
  4. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    I replaced the O2 sensor in my wifes car a couple of years ago. The sensor cost me $32 at Advance Auto Parts. You just unplug the old one, unscrew it and put in the new one and plug it back in.

    The one for yours, if you have the 5.3 liter V8, will cost $68 each at Advance and it takes two of them.
  5. TMonter

    TMonter Minister of Fire

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    Actually $300 is about right for a O2 sensor change on most cars. It's certainly cheaper if you do it yourself but most newer cars have a rear and front O2 sensor and without the reader it's hard to know which one is the problem.

    The O2 Sensor on my Subaru cost me about $260 to replace, but only $20 to read what the code was.

    BTW Autozone will read codes from your car for free if I remember right. Just something to remember.
  6. Czech

    Czech Minister of Fire

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    Most local auto parts stores will code read for no charge, at least where I live. Get the code and description, research online if needed. I replaced an O2 on my truck a while back this way for less than $50, I needed to buy a special O2 wrench for around $5 to do so and that was that. You can always reset codes by disconnecting the battery, note that this may wipe out your radio presets too!
  7. Czech

    Czech Minister of Fire

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    Of special note, NEVER use silicone spray around a running vehicle, this is a sure way to fry 02's (don't ask how I know this!).
  8. struggle

    struggle Minister of Fire

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    That is about right on cost. You have to remember if you are at the dealership they charge more for parts at the parts department as well.

    You can replace it yourself but you will need to know a few things. One is which O2 sensor was it that failed as on a lot of GM trucks there can be up to four of them. Two upstream and two down stream.

    Also a specail socket to get the old one off and the new one on. They can be difficult to take off since they are in one of the hottest areas of the exhaust stream.

    Also if you cannot get a socket directly on it you may need another extension etc for the extra leverage needed to get the old one out. 1/2 socket tools will be needed for this job.

    You can buy a O2 socket at most parts stores. The are some variations on the sockets and you might even be able to get the socket no cost if they have a tool loaner program at the parts store you visit.

    After the sensor is replaced then the code should then be cleared out with a scan tool. The light will eventually shut off after so many on off driving cycles but it is better to have it cleared right away so if any other problems show up then you will know.
  9. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    I replaced all four, yes four, of my O2 sensors of my 98 chevy pickup with a 350 v8 just last year. They cost 80$ apiece from Autozone. I bought them there to return the favor of them reading my codes for free and even giving me the prinout with the code# and description of the error code. If you can change a spark plug, you can change an O2 sensor. It looks just like a spark plug and can sometimes be hard to reach. I had a distributor cap problem that caused lots and lots of unburned fuel to pour into the exhaust system which cooked both cat converters and all four sensors. My exhaust was actually glowing red all the way to the tailpipe, I was towing.

    The shop gouged you for code reading, but is typical and usually labeled "Diganostics". They are also trying to gouge you for popping in new sensors. The price is high but maybe your vehicle poses special challenges. Some can be hard to access.
  10. Corey

    Corey Minister of Fire

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    Late model vehicles are a little different. (I think your '03 falls into this category) But they will generally have an 'air-fuel ratio sensor' or 'AFR sensor' ahead of the catalytic converter. This is a wideband oxygen sensor that can actually sense a range of oxygen in the exhaust stream and convert that back to the AFR that the engine is burning at. These do typically cost $200-$250 for the sensor. After the cat, they have a generic 'oxygen sensor' which simply reads rich or lean. The computer uses that to make sure the cat is functioning correctly. Those run about $30-40 bucks.

    As with any code, my first advice would simply be to reset it and see if it comes back. It could have been a momentary 'glitch' in some system that tripped the code. If it does come back, then there is generally some wiring and relays to troubleshoot and make sure they are functioning. Next may be other peripheral components of the fuel and air systems. The last thing on the list is to replace the sensor.

    As an example - years ago, I had a Ford Bronco that kept setting a code for 'oxygen sensor not switching' In working through the process, I found that the fuel pressure regulator was actually bad and let the pressure shoot up to 80 psi. The injectors couldn't cope with the pressure, dumped in too much fuel and made the sensor always read rich - hence not switching between rich and lean like it should. The code popped up as a result, but really had nothing to do with the sensor.

    Good Luck,
    Corey
  11. DiscoInferno

    DiscoInferno Minister of Fire

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    My wife's 2002 Subaru Forester went through 5 or 6 O2 sensors before she got fed up and discarded it this year. I could not convince the dealer to find the actual source of the problem, they were far too happy to keep putting in a new sensor each year. When the warranty ran out and I went to buy them myself they were in the $200 range, don't recall what the dealer or our own mechanic charged but it was up there. Depending on the source, that car either had 2 or 4 (I found 2). In previous cars a bad sensor didn't seem to make much of a difference, but in hers it became nearly undriveable. A truly stupid design, IMNSHO.
  12. wahoowad

    wahoowad Minister of Fire

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    I am of the opinion O2 sensors are one of the easy dealership scams. Seems darn near everybody has replaced them that I have talked to. I'll come back and apologize if I get to my dealer this afternoon and he has an official printout from the code reader that clearly indicates O2 sensor. For all I know it was a speck of dust somewhere and he said it requred this expensive fix.
  13. GVA

    GVA Minister of Fire

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    Yeah, What mileage do you have on that thing?
    I allways wondered why they always go at I cant remember around 35,000 miles......... Then they never (almost) need to be replaced again......Hmmmm
    Yeah I always thought it was (is) a scam too..
  14. wahoowad

    wahoowad Minister of Fire

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    about 60k miles
  15. TMonter

    TMonter Minister of Fire

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    I had an 02 Impreza (we traded it in yesterday on a new CRV) with the same O2 problem. Turned out there was something also wrong with the fuel metering that combined to cause that problem. Was your forester a 2.5L engine? I'm wondering if that year had a rash of those problems. My mom has an 00' Outback and it has had -0- problems outside a water pump, timing belt and clutch. (She has 200,000 on it so far)
  16. Hogwildz

    Hogwildz Minister of Fire

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    I bought a code reader off Ebay for 26 bucks. Cost me $165.00 to have mine read at Ford. Thats when I bought the code reader and never paid again.
    Found a broken vaccum port on my Ranger, fixed it, and found a sensor on the OL's car accumulated moisture, cleaned it out and fine. $26.00 was well worth it.
  17. kevinmoelk

    kevinmoelk New Member

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    Cozy hit the nail on the head. A code is merely a starting point. While a code for an O2 sensor may appear on the scan tool (note there is a HUGE difference between a scan tool and code reader) this doesn't necessarily mean the O2 is bad. This is however, an easy code to diagnose with the Tech2, and a good technician can cross possible causes off the list quickly. Point being, a code doesn't tell you what is bad. There are still diagnostics involved, whether simple or complex.

    Having been on the other side of the fence on this issue, folks need to keep in mind that the average dealer technician has 5 years of experience, has spent countless hours in training (most having completed a 2 year program plus continued otj training), and invested a small fortune in the tools needed to do the job. You're paying for someones expertise, not unlike any other professional.

    I get so tired of the industry being painted as crooks or scam artists. If it was so damned easy to repair cars then more people would be doing it. You vote with your dollars. If you don't appreciate the service someone provides (whatever that service may be) then don't use the service. Otherwise, zip your lips and pay up, there's little use in dwelling on the matter.

    -Kevin
  18. wahoowad

    wahoowad Minister of Fire

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    Upon picking my truck up I asked if there was a printout from their code reader/diagnostic/scannerner/whatever tool and was told "no." They had hand-written the code down that says it is the O2 sensor. I'm sure they know that code by heart because it is an easy money code. I've heard of other people saying their dealer/repair shop printed off the diagnostic output but I guess a high end Chevrolet dealership doesn't have such advanced technology as printers and such on their diagnostic tools. I mean, it's only 2007, what do I expect from a computer? I think they should if they are going to be charging folks so much.
  19. struggle

    struggle Minister of Fire

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    It is not common practice to print out code information for most people as they would have no idea what it meant and the dealership I worked in never used any means to print out codes for the DRBs. Not sure if it was even possible. We would detail info on the work order as to what the code was and wether it was reading rich or lean and any other possible causes but not much else beyond that.

    You have to realize most people like 99 percent would not even want that information.
  20. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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  21. cbrodsky

    cbrodsky Member

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    Cost me $200 to get one diagnosed/replaced on a Tacoma - no "code reading fee" but that cost included $60 added for excess labor to get the horrendously rusted on sensor out of my exhaust. I figured it was fair - I have no interest in doing anything that exposed to NY road salt for 10 years :)

    -Colin
  22. Jimbob

    Jimbob New Member

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    I have the Scanguage, it works well. Gives you lots of info.
  23. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    Thanks. It seems like a really useful tool.
    Does things other than just read codes, so it's useful for the other 99% of the time as well.
  24. bjorn773

    bjorn773 Member

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    I'm with cozy and wrenchmonster on this one. Being a 15 year auto technician myself, I don't find that repair to be unreasonable. You have to realize that the dealer is paying overhead for a large building & high tech expensive equipment and paying top dollar for experienced techs who have invested countless training hours and 10's of thousands of dollars in tools. The dealer needs to make money on both parts and labor to stay in business. Yes you can get the code read at AZ. Yes you can buy a reader and read it yourself. Yes you can even buy a scanner, but without years of experience the data on that scanner is not going to mean much to you. You are paying for experience. I can't count the times a car comes in after a customer has attempted to repair his own vehicle. I open the hood to find a bunch of new parts that did not fix the car. Then they have to pay me to fix it correctly anyway. I can go to a grocery store and buy a steak, but I can't make it taste like the family steakhouse in town that's been selling hundreds of steaks a week for generations. I make my living providing a service to my customers. They expect an accurate diagnosis and a reliable repair, both of which require education and experience. You DO get what you pay for.
  25. wahoowad

    wahoowad Minister of Fire

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    Soak that steak (ribeye) in teriyaki sauce for a couple hours, then throw it on the grill.

    or get you a couple nice filet mignons, rub them with olive oil, fresh chopped garlic and a little ground sea salt. Throw them on the grill with a meat thermometer and grill to 125 (no more!).

    Then come back and tell me you can't cook a steak better than a steakhouse.
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