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Widebands Explained and Why You Need One

 

The "Wideband" is actually a wideband air fuel sensor that measures the ratio of air to fuel in the exhaust stream.  The wideband O2 sensor is the most critical gauge you can have in a modified vehicle.  The stock O2 sensors also measure the air fuel ratio, but they are designed to measure the AF at the stochiometric point (14.64 lbs of air to 1lb of fuel also known as 14.64:1 or just 14.64).  They can really only measure the AF between about 14.3 and 15.3.  The purpose of the O2 sensor is to adjust your AF during part throttle to run at the stochiometric point for max power, minimum fuel consumption, and minimum emissions.  They do their job really well and it is not recommended to use the simulated narrow band output off of a wideband sensor because it is not nearly as sensitive at 14.64:1.  Using the simulated output is kind of like using a 0-100psi boost gauge to measure only 10psi of boost, it will work, but using a 0-15psi gauge will provide a more accurate measurement.   In contrast the Wideband O2 sensor can measure the AF between about 10.0 and 20.0.  Your desired AF depends on your modifications but here are some typical values.  NA (12.5-13.5), Supercharged, Turbo Charged, and Nitrous (11.0 to 12.0).  The reason that knowing your AF at WOT (wide open throttle) is that the extra gas is used to help cool the engine cylinders.  If you start to run Lean (high AFR) the burn will be much hotter and engine cylinder temps will begin to rise rapidly.  When they reach a critical point you will have engine knock (detonation, pre-ignition) that will quickly destroy the motor if you do not let off the gas.  Remember if you ever hear detonation LET OFF THE GAS!  It sounds kind of like shaking popcorn kernels in a coffee can, slapping metal wires against the motor, a diesel motor, or a rattle up under the dash.  It has a rhythmic sound to it as well.  Generally anything that sounds "funny" at WOT is not good and needs to be evaluated.  All the PLX Devices widebands can be datalogged using SCT Flash products and the SCT livelink datalogging program for complete data log analysis.  Check out my Information Center for more info on datalogging.

 

PLX Devices Wideband products use Critical Response Technology for the most accurate widebands on the market.  There is a major advantage to using this technology vs.  other widebands that need to be calibrated in the air.  Please read the weblink if you would like to know more.

Click Here to check out the various PLX Devices Wideband options.

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Last updated: 03/07/10.