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Boxster Project : Oxygen Sensor

Bank 2 Sensor 1 = Driver side, in front of the catalytic converter

It’s not that the RainyDayGarage guys like doing their own repairs (OK, they do), and it’s not that they mind paying for work that requires expertise (“$3500 for rebuilding a transmission? Okay, go for it.”), but when a task that is literally no harder than changing a light bulb comes with an absurd “professional” price tag, everyone should put on their big-mechanics pants and do the job themselves.

Like, in our instance, installing a new oxygen sensor.

When the “Check Engine” Light (CEL) comes on, the problem can range from the-engine-is-going-to-blow-up-NOW to you-forgot-to-tighten-the-gas-cap. So the CEL is one of those “warnings” which, initially, is less than helpful, unless you have an OBD2 reader…but we digress.

We readily admit that we have been driving with the CEL on for close to a year. We knew what that problem was, but never got around to dealing with it: a faulty O2 sensor. The fix is simple and absolutely no harder than changing a light bulb, but for the Boxster it involved raising the car and sliding underneath it, something we hate to do as it is always presents an opportunity for our becoming a candidate for the Darwin Award.

When the 2000 Boxster needed some “experts in foreign motors” work done, the RainyDayGarage guys also asked for a quote to replace the O2 sensor. The quoted price was over $500, which actually made us laugh out loud on the phone.

Actually, that pissed off the RainyDayGarage guys enough to: get off their duffs, order the part, and get under the car.

The Quote

Normally, quotes from our local mechanic are very reasonable, and we do have them do work which we can do (brakes, rotors, etc.) but don’t have the time/inclination to do. We don’t mind paying $110 an hour for their labor when we know it would take us waaay longer to do the work than they would, but an O2 sensor replacement is a 15 minute task and a $100 part! So we gentlemanly declined their quote.


The Part

The last time we changed out an O2 sensor on the Boxster was in 2008, so a quick check with the trusty Boxster service manual was a good refresher.

The Boxster Manual: worth its weight in gold.

We knew from the CEL codes that the faulty sensor was the one on Bank2 and in front of the catalytic converter. As the pre- and post-catalytic converter sensors have slightly different cable lengths, it was important to order the right one. 

While searching for the proper O2 sensor to buy, we came across a lot of different options. There were even ones without the connectors. We like to save money where we can, but only when it makes sense. For something like this, we went with “reliable” instead of “inexpensive.”

$100 including shipping and the fashionable blue wire sheath.

BOSCH is the OEM for many Porsche parts. The O2 sensor we replaced in 2008 was a BOSCH part, and is still working 12 years later. So we got a BOSCH O2 sensor the time around as well.

The BOSCH O2 sensor came ready for installation. It even the anti-seize paste pre-applied to the threads!

Note the pre-applied anti-seize paste on the thread…

The Prep

The OBD2 codes for the CEL indicated that the bad sensor was located on Bank2 Sensor1, which translates to, “the one on the driver side in front of the catalytic converter.” Unless the Boxster is on a lift, the rear wheel has to be removed to get at that O2 sensor. 

Tools needed for this DIY…

We HATE getting under the car. To get under it using just the jack is absolutely stupid, so we also use jack stands.

Note the jack stand…

Even with the jack stands holding the car up, we still used a tire under the car as one more prop (literally, to prop up the car) should things go sideways. Hey, earthquakes do happen in New England!!!

One stand jack: check. Two tire jacks: check. Horizontally laid tire: check-a-rooney-do.

The Project

The catalytic converter is the brownish…protuberance right behind the brake caliper in the photo below. Removing it is just a matter of uncoupling the connector, unscrewing the sensor from the catalytic converter, and pulling it out. That’s it.

The thing that has lit up the dashboard for a year.

There is a special tool for this task (which we didn’t buy), and maybe on other makes you really do need it, but an adjustable wrench or pliers worked just fine for us.

Below is a close up of the bad O2 sensor removed from the front of the driver side catalytic converter. 

Bad sensor removed. Time required: 60 seconds.

With the sensor out and the new one installed, this DIY is basically complete. We still have: to put the tire back on, put away all the tools, and wash the hands (very dirty).

Fifteen minutes to save $400? Yeah, we are happy about that, ergo happy to do it.

New Oxygen Sensor installed…time required? 30 seconds.

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