Why go wideband?

If you are performing modifications on your engine for racing or tuning purposes, you understand that knowledge is power.  The more details you know about your car the more you can fine tune its performance.  A wideband O2 sensor is an excellent way to get the most detailed information about your air to fuel ratio.  The decision to run rich or run lean depends on the specifications of your engine and the level of performance you are trying to tune it to.  You may be thinking though “I already have an oxygen sensor in my car, what is the big difference between a wideband and a standard oxygen sensor?”

The voltage that a wideband O2 sensor picks up allows you to measure the ratio of air to fuel with much more sensitivity than can be achieved with a standard oxygen sensor.  The is means that wideband can pick up on ratios from roughly 7:1 to 20:1 and not just the 14.7:1 that standard oxygen sensors are designed to hone in on.  So if you want to test your engine by running it through a cycle of lean to rich mixtures you can only get the accurate air to fuel ratio with a wideband sensor.  

So now what do different air to fuel ratios accomplish for you in regard to engine performance?  Well if you are looking to save on fuel costs and get better fuel economy, then you would want to test our running a leaner mixture.  The standard 14.7:1 ratio is designed for cruising and if you are mainly putting highway miles on your car then this setting may be the most effective for your needs.  Rich mixtures bring out the power at high throttle angles and give you the performance you need for racing.  Whatever the ratio you want to run, you need to have the wideband O2 sensor installed to get an accurate read on the exact mixture. 

Especially if you are racing, the exact mixture comes into play to make sure that you do not damage your car.  If you have a turbocharger or supercharger installed or if you use nitrous, the air to fuel mixture has to be very precise to avoid blowing your engine.  A wideband O2 sensor that is integrated into a high performance computer management system will allow you to make sure that the ratios stay just right and save you the expense and heartache of having to replace the engine soon after you make the modifications. 

A quality wideband O2 sensor needs to be properly installed to give you the data that you need.  Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s directions or if you are doing a custom install, make sure that you have the electrical know how to integrate the sensor properly into the computer management system.  By switching to wideband you can equip yourself with way more data than you could collect with just the standard oxygen sensor.  Proper use of this information can allow you to fine tune the performance of your car to a level that you may never have imagined. 

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