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Repeated Oxygen Sensor issues

5004 Views 3 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  dave338
I know this topic seems to have been covered ad infinitum in this forum, but I want to get an opinion on the following chain of events:

0) The car is a 2005 Outback Wagon. We purchased it in November 2008 with 32,000 miles. It currently has 92,000 miles on it.

1) In mid 2011, the rear oxygen sensor failed with a code that suggested the Catalytic Converted had failed.

2) on 9/13/11, we had the catalytic converter replaced and tested. I believe this was covered by a recall or extended warranty.

3) Recently we noticed a loud exhaust-related noise and took the car to the dealer. We were told that there was a crack in the middle of the system, and that they needed to replace the entire system from there back. At the same time, we were told that the head gaskets were leaking and that we would need to get them replaced as well. The entire cost for this was $3,500

4) Less than a week after the exhaust system was replaced, a sensor failed and caused the check engine light to come on again. It wasn't the oxygen sensor, but another which we were told could be caused by misfires or a problem with the catalytic converter. I apologize for not knowing the name, but the paperwork is in the car, which is currently in the shop because...

5) One day after the faulty sensor was replaced, the rear oxygen sensor failed, causing the check engine light to come on again. We were told that it could have been because of the catalytic converter, which (as mentioned in 2) above) was replaced less than 18 months ago.

We were quoted $400 to replace the rear oxygen sensor. I can't help but feel that with replacing the exhaust system, catalytic converter, etc., that we are being taken for a ride somehow.

The car has turned into a money pit and we are eager to get rid of it, but for the moment I'd just like to know if anyone thinks I should push back against having to pay for the oxygen sensor, or if it's something that I should have 'expected.'

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Too much.
Quality rear sensors are $75 or less. Labor is no more than 1/2 hour.
Go somewhere else.
The dealer replaced the exhaust and they didn't replace the sensor?

Sounds to me like the shop that has it doesn't really know what is going on and is using your wallet to hunt with.

It reminds me of old flow charts, "Replace with a known good part and test again." You can't do that. Just look at the data and find the issue. Of course, you have to know what you are looking at.

Here's your recourse:

Catalytic converters are made to last a lifetime with proper maintenance. How did the OE CAT last as long as it did and the new one fail quickly?

What was the justification for replacing a large portion of the exhaust system over a crack?

What is making the sensors fail? Or, why do they believe the sensors are failing? Are they reading the data wrong or are they actually testing the sensors at the harness plug? Did they install a Universal sensor? The ones that don't work because the resistance is altered with spicing which throws off the math on the ECM end.

Are they checking other systems that determine proper function of the CAT? Temperature, ignition, fuel?

Read through these 2 post:

And yes, even in Alaska, $400 for a sensor is ridiculously high.

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cardoc and Osei, thank you very much for your replies.

They told me that they had to replace the back half of the exhaust system because it was so corroded that it was falling apart when they tried to fix the crack.

For the sensor issues, I keep hearing the phrase "it could have been caused by a misfire" and because I am not too knowledgeable about cars in general I took their word for it. However, the phrase "using my wallet to chase down the problem" is very close to what I feel is going on.

Thanks again.
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