Oxygen And Engines: The Low Down On The Relationship

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O2 is all around. As far as elements go, it is the one, the thing that humans need more than most. Without oxygen, we die and it’s that simple. Cars are different. Oxygen is important for sure, but their relationship gets complicated. Too little and it will break down, but too much and it might explode. Talk about a delicate balance.

For the most part, motorists don’t think twice about O2. Gas is far more important, as is driving economically and maintaining the vehicle’s overall health. However, if the balance between O2 and the engine isn’t right then everything else pales in significance.

Here’s why.

Brake Failure

Brakes work by using friction to stop the car’s momentum. So, the idea that oxygen has a role to play seems a little ridiculous at first. But, two words change it all – air bubbles. As soon as bubbles start to collect in the pipes containing the brake fluid, they compromise the efficiency of the whole system. Sometimes the brakes may feel spongy and less responsive, while others they can cut out altogether. A brake bleeding kit can remove the bubbles and ensure the car is 100% percent safe. Think of it like bleeding a radiator when air collects in the pipes.


Modern cars use advanced materials such as carbon fiber for many reasons. A great side-effect is that it doesn’t erode as quickly as opposed to metal. Still, there is plenty of iron and steel knocking around on even the most futuristic model. Yep, that includes a Tesla. As soon as oxygen, water and metal combine, rust sets in and eats away at the material. Say, this happens to the engine, you’re going to be in heaps of trouble. It also applies to the exhaust. The only way to limit the damage is to clean and dry anything that may erode.


An oxygen sensor on the car has a very important job. It tracks how much O2 is being used along with fuel and balances it to get the right mix. Why is this important? It’s vital for lots of reasons, but the one that will grab your attention is fuel-efficiency. Most petrolheads aren’t bothered about the environment as long as they get their thrills. However, they do care about their bank balance. When the O2 sensor is off, the mix of oxygen and gas will be too rich. In layman’s terms, it will burn more gas than necessary causing you to pay more for fuel.

Smog Test

Governments are cracking down on vehicles that ruin the planet. In fairness, it’s important to leave it in good shape for the next generation and so forth. As a result, you may need to put your car through a smog test to track its emissions. Vehicles that give off too much CO2 will be failed and taken off the road until they are repaired. Because the O2 sensor is broken and the fuel is being burned willy-nilly, there’s a good chance your car won’t pass.

The lowdown is pretty insightful when you think about it, right? But is it enough to get you to take O2 and cars seriously?