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Hi all,

A few days ago I drove my 2014 Crosstrek Limited about 700 miles to visit family (and it just hit 60,000 miles!). When I got here, I had my oil changed and my A/C looked at (a topic for another post, ugh), and when the shop returned my car to me, my check engine light was on and cruise control flashing. I asked the guy to take a look at what it was, and $85 dollars later he told me it was my upstream air/fuel ratio (a/k/a O2) sensor. Evidently the heating element (or something) is fried.

I looked into this, and not only is it rare for the A/F ratio sensor to fail before, like, 100,000 miles, but among the few reasons it might fail are if it incurred damage (either water or a rock hitting it). Obviously it was fine the entire 700-mile journey, so why would it suddenly trigger the CEL only after I took it to this shop?

By the way, I tried a couple things to reset the CEL (disconnected the positive terminal from the battery for 15 minutes, started and stopped the engine 3x in a row), but the CEL is still on. This could be legit, but I wanted to check with other XV owners first.

Thanks!
 

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I highly doubt a rock hit your sensor. It is located on top of the exhaust manifold before the cat. There also is a big plastic shield under the entire front of the car. Changing the oil, can't see how they could of done anything to it. The Sensor is no where near the drain plug and the oil filter is on top of the engine. AC, not near the sensor either unless they dropped a tool onto it. You can see the sensor looking down at the front of the engine. It's almost straight down in front, right before the cat.

It really is odd that the light appeared after their service. You'll need a scan tool to reset the CEL. The cruise will flash when you have a check engine, that's normal. Before replacing, I'd verify what code is actually set. Advance or Autozone can check if you don't have the tool, probably can reset it as well and see if it comes back.

I've got 146,000+ miles and have to change mine but it's due to a poor engine repair. Clowns cost me due to incompetence. If you want it done right you pretty much have to do it yourself these days. Anyway, if the sensor is indeed bad, the upstream is the more expensive one. Factory is very pricey. I ordered a Denso which I believe makes them for Subaru. Amazon or Rock Auto is in the $115-120 range. Also ordered a crows foot for easier removal / install. It's not hard to do but you want to be sure that is what is wrong before replacing.
 

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Thanks @subyrubyroo. I went to AutoZone to get my own Error code readout (they said they were unable to reset my CEL, probably some sort of liability thing).

The Error code is as follows:
P0031 HO2S Heater Control Circuit Low (Bank 1, Sensor 1)

This is the code the mechanic mentioned as well. I would still like to have my CEL reset just to see if it does, indeed, come back. How might I do this? Is there any danger in doing this?

If my Air/Fuel sensor is in fact broken at 60,000, I guess I need to replace it. The only videos I saw online for replacing Subaru O2 sensors show them as being very easily accessed just beneath the plastic air intake at the front of the car; but I took a peek at the Crosstrek, and it is far more difficult to access. I guess they changed the layout of things for the Crosstrek, because I can't follow the wires from the upstream sensor to it's plug, and I can't even see the downstream sensor.

The original mechanic wanted to charge $240 for the part, and 2.5 hours of labors at $90/hour. I found the OEM part online for $120. I know they up-charge to cover their margins, but 2.5 hours of labor seems like a lot for this job. I don't even know if this is even a real issue.
 

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You have to use a scan tool to reset the CEL. Why did the mechanic not reset it when he was plugged in? Normal procedure is to reset and then roadtest to see if it comes back. Still very strange that it started directly after their work on the car. When you look down at the sensor, does it appear as though they may of dropped something on it? Can be a wire issue as well but they are on the passenger side away from the AC and Oil filter where they should of been working unless they worked on the condenser which is next to the wire harness. Look at the rear of the engine passenger side. There is a large plug with a lot of wires on a bracket bolted to the engine. The wires are exposed, look for damage. There are quite a few pages out there describing the code and possible causes but I'd lean toward them messing something up vs it going bad. Just don't know what they did.

I also have a 2014 and the sensor is not too hard to access compared to a lot of cars. You can either reach from the top or from under the car. The plastic shield under the front is held on by 4 bolts and 6 push pins. Makes it a lot easier to see where the wire goes. You need to be sure the sensor wire is secure and not touching the exhaust. It will probably be pretty tight from rust and such when removing. Also have to use antisieze when installing the new one. It just depends on how mechanically inclined you are and if you have the proper tools as to how to approach. 2.5 hours does seem excessive. Just took a look at mine and would go from under to disconnect. There is a clip that has to be released along the wire. You can access from the top but it looks a lot easier from below. The plastic pan can be removed in a few minutes.

The OEM sensor is over $200 list so be careful when searching on Ebay, lots of fakes. I would buy the Denso from Amazon (as the seller), Rock Auto, or other reputable source. Will be just under $120. Have not seen the OEM that low but by all means if you find for that, go for it. Just be sure it is from a Subaru dealer, not some random seller.
 

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Thanks @subyrubyroo. I don't know why this guys didn't reset the code. I ended up declining the service from him and just paying for the diagnosis. Do you think it's fair for me to go back there and ask him to reset the code? I don't know anyone else who'd be able to do it.

Yeah, I took the plastic shield off and could see the sensor itself where it inserts into the exhaust, it looks fine. But I couldn't see where the wires go to clip in. I bet if I got under it, I could see it, but I don't have jack stands here where I'm visiting. I bought the crow foot socket in anticipation of doing this job myself, but now I'm having second thoughts.

I believe Denso is the OEM, and yeah $120 is a lot better than $240. What kills me is the mechanic was insisting that $240 is the cheapest he could find it, and said there's no way I was finding it for $120. Some nerve. Feel free to up-charge me, just acknowledge that's what you're doing.

Anyway, should I go back to this guy and request a reset?

Thanks!
 

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You could ask him to do the reset. Also, any Advance Auto or Autozone ought to be able to check your code.
 

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You could ask him to do the reset. Also, any Advance Auto or Autozone ought to be able to check your code.
So I took it back to the mechanic this morning to get the CEL cleared, and the guy did it. The error came right back when he started her up.

I'm still just really suspicious that this thing went out only after I got my oil changed with this guy, and that my car only has 60,000 miles on it. My fuel efficiency still hovers around 30mpg, but maybe that's an inaccurate reading because of the A/F sensor?

I don't think I can do this repair myself because of where the sensor and clips/plugs are now located on Subarus (not sure why they made them harder to access than older models). There's another garage that quoted me a lower price ($350 total), I guess I'll just take it there.

I really want someone to just take the Air/Fuel sensor out and check it, but I'd be paying for that, too. Is there any other way to know definitively if the sensor really is busted?
 

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Just did mine today. Easy access from under the car to the plug and sensor once you take off the plastic pan. I was surprised that is wasn't gorilla tight into the pipe. I used the tool and a 1/2" breaker bar with the swivel head. Came loose real easy. Then again, depends on what kinds of tools you have and if you have worked on cars at all prior.

Did you check the wiring harness? That's about the only thing left if they didn't drop something on the sensor.
 

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Thanks, @subyrubyroo . I unfortunately don't have my jack stands with me on this trip, and it's 700 miles back to my home. If I had a way to safely get under my car, I'd have done this myself. I decided to just take it to another mechanic and had them do the job. I hate spending money on repairs I could easily do myself, but I figured it was worth it for peace of mind on my trip back home. The whole thing was $370, which sucks, but it didn't kill me.

Thanks for your advice!
 

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So the new sensor fixed the problem? Just seems odd that it went bad after the guy worked on the car.
 
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