GM Firebird 1967-1981 Repair Guide

Oxygen Sensor


An oxygen sensor is used on all 1980 models built for Calif. and on all 1981 models. The sensor protrudes into the exhaust stream and monitors the oxygen content of the exhaust gases. The difference between the oxygen content of the exhaust gases and that of the outside air generates a voltage signal to the ECM. The ECM monitors this voltage and, depending upon the value of the signal received, issues a command to adjust for a rich or a lean condition.

No attempt should ever be made to measure the voltage output of the sensor. The current drain of any conventional voltmeter would be such that it would permanently damage the sensor. No jumpers, test leads or any other electrical connections should ever be made to the sensor. Use these tools ONLY on the ECM side of the wiring harness connector AFTER disconnecting it from the sensor.


See Figure 1

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Fig. Fig. 1: Throttle Position Sensor (TPS) and related component identification

The oxygen sensor must be replaced every 30,000 miles (48,000 km.). The sensor may be difficult to remove when the engine temperature is below 120F (48C). Excessive removal force may damage the threads in the exhaust manifold or pipe; follow the removal procedure carefully.

  1. Locate the oxygen sensor. On the V8 engines, it is on the front of the left side exhaust manifold, just above the point where it connects to the exhaust pipe. On the V6 engines, it is on the inside of the exhaust pipe where it bends toward the back of the car.

On the V6 engine you may find it necessary to raise the front of the car and remove the oxygen sensor from underneath.

  1. Trace the wires leading from the oxygen sensor back to the first terminal and disconnect them (the junction on the V6 engine is attached to a bracket mounted on the right, rear of the engine block, while the terminal on the V8 engine is attached to a bracket mounted on the top of the left side exhaust manifold).
  3. Spray a commercial heat riser solvent onto the sensor threads and allow it to soak in for at least five minutes.
  5. Carefully unscrew and remove the sensor.

To install:
  1. Coat the new sensor's threads with G.M. anti-seize compound no. 5613695 or the equivalent. This is not a conventional anti-seize paste. The use of a regular compound may electrically insulate the sensor, rendering it inoperative. You must coat the threads with an electrically conductive anti-seize compound.
  3. Installation torque is 30 ft. lbs. (42 Nm.). Do not overtighten.
  5. Reattach the electrical connector. Be careful not to damage the electrical pigtail. Check the sensor boot for proper fit and installation. Install the air cleaner, if removed.