Is a universal oxygen sensor really universal?
July 31, 2006 4:55 PM Subscribe
ScoobyFilter: It's time to replace the oxygen sensors in my 2001 Subaru Outback. "Universal" replacements run about half the cost of the OEM version. Am I asking for trouble by taking the cheap way out?
posted by Opposite George to Travel & Transportation (8 answers total)
I drive a 2001 Outback VDC with the H6 engine. It takes three O2 sensors -- two before and one after the catalytic converter. They're all the four-wire type. The car has 165,000 miles already so the less money spent the better.
Surfing the 'net suggests I have two options -- go with OEM-style sensors for about $100 each, or "universal" 4-wire sensors for under $50. The OEM-style sensors come with a Subaru-style plug attached, while the universal ones require I reuse the existing connector and do some splicing. I have the car's electrical diagrams and pinouts so that shouldn't be a problem.
Financially, universal sounds like the way to go but I'm hesitant. First, I read an article suggesting some cars require slightly different sensor heater currents and therefore shouldn't use universal sensors -- this was in an article about BMWs, though and I don't know if this applies to Subarus. Also, universal sensors seem to be rarer than the OEM style (e.g., my local parts stores don't carry them.) If AutoZone has no problem selling discount replacement brake pads, why don't they carry discount replacement O2 sensors? I'm worried that it might be because they're no good.
So does anybody know if universal is good enough for my make/model, or do I have to spring for the OEM type?