The short story: I need a new upstream O2 sensor. Does anyone have experience with buying any of the ones listed below?
My 2005 FWD has had the CEL on for a month or so, and I finally checked it. I got code P0171, and spent a few hours reading about it here on the forums.
I took my car into my mechanic today for an oil change and tire rotation, asked them to check the code, and told them it was likely a vacuum leak caused by a failed intake manifold gasket. The tech came back and recommended a full tune-up-- new spark plugs, plug boots, engine air filter, fuel filter, and upstream O2 sensor-- then re-evaluate to see if the P0171 comes up again. I have 215,000 miles on the car and I don't think I've ever replaced any of those except the two filters; they said I'm about 160,000 miles overdue for it.
The cheapest they could find the upstream O2 sensor from any of their suppliers was $151 (he even put the guy on speakerphone so I could hear it for myself) and book time is an hour for the labor, so I'd be at $200-250 just for the O2 sensor. I knew that replacing the sensor is basically just unscrewing the sensor, unplugging the harness, and replacing with a new one. I'd seen O2 sensors on Amazon for $50-100, so I decided that $200-250 to have my mechanic do it seemed unwise.
The OEM part number is 88974015, according to GMPartsDirect.com. The list price is an insane $338.43, and GMPartsDirect is charging $182.76
On Amazon, I found four parts that all claim to be a match for the OEM:
1) the Roadstar 234-9052
, at $60
2) the Bosch 15974
, at $85
3) the ACDelco 213-2825
, at $96
4) the Walker 250-54006
, at $100
(The Bosch has 9 reviews and the Walker has 2 reviews-- neither of which is enough to rely on. The Roadstar and ACDelco both have zero reviews.)
AutoZone also has three worth considering:
5) the Walker 350-34345
6) the NTK 24806
7) the Denso 234-4802
at $80; AutoZone claims this is an "OEM equivalent", and Denso is indeed the OEM for the sensors.
Are any of these a particularly good or bad choice?
I've never heard of Roadstar or Walker, but Bosch and ACDelco are obviously well-known names (and Bosch's website claims that they invented the O2 sensor!). #1 and #5 are noticeably cheaper, though.
I know I'll also need an O2 sensor socket. This YouTube video
showed me that a low-profile crowfoot (crows-foot) socket will work even if it can't complete a full rotation due to the short flange and short offset. Using a longer flange seems like it'd be more convenient because you could make more of a rotation before needing to reseat the socket.
1) I just discovered the "loaner tool" programs from the auto-store chains. AutoZone has this "great neck" socket
, which seems perfect, but it's hard to tell if the flange will be deep enough to get seated or not. If not, they also have this crowfoot socket
, which has a short offset but a long enough flange that it should work well. I'll probably just borrow both of these and see which works better.
2) If you'd rather purchase your own, this Ares 70039
($7.82) with a short flange and short offset seems to be the most common size, but might be too short to work well on the Vibe's upstream sensor (unless you're going to remove the heat shield, which you otherwise don't need to do).
3) This Ares 70325
($10.64) seems like the same short flange, but has a longer offset. This is what I'd buy if I were going to purchase one.
4) This Tekton 4929
($10.64) is an example of a 'full-size' socket, but seems like it runs the risk of being too long to fit into that part of the Vibe's engine compartment. I don't want to roll the dice on that.
I have very little experience doing my own auto repairs or maintenance of any kind, and I don't have much money or time that I can use to experiment and learn, so I have to be careful with my research when deciding what to do myself. I used a lot of posts here from 5-7 years ago, so hopefully my research will help out other Vibe owners like me who are new to replacing O2 sensors.