Saturday, March 23, 2013

Repairing an Oxygen/Lambda sensor on a Toyota Yaris

The orange engine error light
For the last year or so an orange engine error light came up on my 2001 1.0L Toyota Yaris. Even though the car seemed to run the same as normal, and was properly serviced, the small orange light kept nagging me glowing in the corner of the dashboard console while I was driving. Not wanting to pay for a garage to repair the fault, I decided to try and tackle the issue myself. 

CAN<->Bluetooth adapter
and Torque Pro running on a
Google Nexus
The orange light lights on the console whenever the vehicles Engine Control Unit (ECU, the cars inbuilt computer) detects a fault with the vehicle. To find out what issue the light was indicating, you have to read the error code produced by the ECU on the CAN bus of the vehicle (The CAN bus is akin to a USB network that traverses through the vehicle). To help mechanics read these fault codes, vehicle manufacturers leave a connection point to the CAN bus somewhere within easy access in the vehicle. On the Yaris this is located at the top of the drivers footwell. This connection point is a large connector called a OBD connector. Mechanics can buy CAN to USB converters to connect the vehicle to a PC and using suitable PC software, read the error code off the vehicle. These connectors and software can run anywhere from a couple of euros for the most basic generic adapter with free software, to a couple of thousand for standalone readers that are specific to particular brands and error codes of vehicles. 
The CAN<->bluetooth adapter (top of footwell) with the Nexus pad

As I wanted to repair this fault the cheapest way possible, I went onto Ebay and bought a CAN to Bluetooth adapter for about 15 euros. I also downloaded a great piece of software called "Torque pro" for my google Nexus Android pad that can interface with the adapter for reading and resetting error codes. 

Plugging in the adapter into the OBD connector and pairing it with the Nexus, I was able to run Torque Pro and read the error code. The code that was shown was  "P0141 - Powertrain O2 Sensor Heater Circuit (Bank 1 Sensor 2)". Googling this error code informed me that the Yaris has a two 02 sensor on the exhaust of the vehicle. One sits before the catalyst converter, and one after the catalyst converter to make sure that it is doing its job correctly. These sensors have an inbuilt heater that heats the sensor up to its correct working temperature when the vehicle is started. In my case, the sensor after the catalyst had burnt out its heater circuit leading to the error reported by the ECU. Using the "Haynes repair manual" for the toyota Yaris, I was able to successfully locate and remove the broken sensor. After another browse on ebay, I was able to source a second hand sensor for 30 euro, a much cheaper price than the 150 euros I was quoted for a new one from a toyota dealership. I replaced the O2 sensor and powered up the engine. 
Resetting the error codes after the fault has been repaired
Reading the error codes

A error of "P0141 - Powertrain O2 Sensor
 Heater Circuit (Bank 1 Sensor 2)"
 is shown in Torque.  
The tools of the job
The new 02 sensor is fitted in place
At first I was confused to still see the orange error code on the console of the vehicle. However, after a bit of playing around with the app on the nexus tap, I was able to find a menu to reset the error codes on the vehicle. After turning the ignition of the vehicle on a off again, I was happily not greeted by the orange warning light. So all in all the whole operation cost me around 60 euros, as I just had to buy the CAN adapter, the android app, and the replacement O2 sensor. Not too bad a saving if I say so myself. 

No more warning light!


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Sorry from where you bought the sensor ebay????

  3. Hi, thanks for the article. I have exactly the same problem. I was wondering if you could share the following things:
    - The model of the Bluetooth adapter you bought
    - The Hanes repair manual for this Yaris model

  4. Great article, you're going to help save us a few quid and me to earn some credit with the wife - thanks! =)

  5. Great article really appreciate it! Had the exact same problem an I have been quoted £130 for the parts.
    This really helps for future problems!
    All the best :)

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  12. if i change the o2 catalyct converter with a diferent kind one ... is there a problem

  13. if i change the o2 catalyct converter with a diferent kind one ... is there a problem , because i did and my car is working perfectly ,, waiting for response