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Trade Press Gets First-Hand Look During Tour of Bosch’s State-of-the-Art South Carolina O2 Sensor Plant

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Oxygen sensors are one of the key sensors in every engine’s fuel management feedback control system. Consequently, O2 sensors play a vital role in maintaining low emissions, good fuel economy and peak performance. Developed by the Robert Bosch Corporation, O2 sensors first appeared on vehicles back in 1976. Since then, almost every passenger car and light truck that has been sold in the U.S. has been equipped with one or more of these amazing sensors.

Bosch manufactures both thimble and planar type O2 sensors at its state-of-the-art facility in Anderson, SC. The 457,000-square-foot plant, which began producing O2 sensors in 1985, now employs more than 1,200 skilled workers and produces 95% of all the O2 sensors Bosch sells in the U.S.

Members of the trade press recently toured the plant and were astounded at all the steps that go into making an oxygen sensor. O2 sensors start out as nothing more than ceramic powder. Zirconia and other materials are blended together and injected into molds that create the thimbles that will eventually become the sensor element.

Bosch estimates that more than 200 million of the 218 million automobiles and light trucks on the road today have O2 sensors. Of these, about half (97 million) are pre-OBD II vehicles that have one or two heated or unheated thimble-type O2 sensors mounted in the exhaust manifold. The rest (111 million) are OBD II vehicles with two or more heated thimble-type or planar O2 sensors mounted ahead of and behind the catalytic converter. On the OBD II applications, a downstream O2 sensor is necessary to monitor the operating efficiency of the converter.

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Norihisa Akamatsu, group product manager, engine management products for Bosch, estimates that there are 420 million oxygen sensors operating today in this country, and roughly 6.5 million sensors are currently being sold each year in the aftermarket domestically. “That’s a pretty big potential replacement market,” he added. And it is expected to grow to more than 7 million O2 sensors a year by 2005.

Properly functioning O2 sensors are a must to pass almost every emissions test. Nearly all types of emissions tests (idle only as well as loaded mode ASM and I/M 240 that use a dyno) require the sampling of tailpipe emissions. The oxygen sensor must be operating properly in order for a vehicle to pass. The same goes for the new plug-in OBD II tests that many states are now using on 1995 and newer vehicles. If an O2 sensor is sluggish or reading out of range, it will set a diagnostic trouble code and turn on the Check Engine light, causing the vehicle to fail the OBD II test.

Most oxygen sensors today are engineered to last well beyond 100,000 miles. Many do, but O2 sensors may fail prematurely for a variety of reasons including extreme thermal shock, vibration and contamination (typically oil burning or coolant leaking into a combustion chamber).

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“Heated thimble-type O2 sensors have been the predominant O2 sensors used in the United States for several years, despite the fact that some vehicles still used unheated sensors into the late 1990s,” Akamatsu said. “Continually advancing emissions requirements, such as OBD II, have mandated more advanced, new oxygen sensors that are more sensitive and more durable. The heated planar sensor, introduced by Bosch in 1998, provides greater sophistication in exhaust gas measurement and fast ‘light-off’ of about 10 to 12 seconds.”

Heated planar sensors, which consist of a flat strip of laminated ceramic instead of the more familiar thimble, reduce cold-start emissions and are currently being installed on nearly 50% of new vehicles.

Bosch has also started to introduce the next generation of O2 sensors called “wide-band” O2 sensors. These sensors produce a signal that is directly proportional to the air/fuel ratio instead of switching back and forth between a rich/lean reading. This allows the engine management system to more closely maintain the air/fuel ratio for optimum performance, fuel economy and emissions. The wide-band sensors are made like planar sensors and use a flat strip ceramic sensing element rather than a zirconia thimble. But they have an extra “pumping cell” laminated into the strip to create the internal circuitry needed to measure the air/fuel mixture.

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Bosch’s Anderson facility has received numerous quality and achievement awards, including Ford’s Q1 Preferred Quality Award and the Nissan Quality Master Award. Additionally, the plant has achieved certification to numerous international and industry quality standards such as QS9000, ISO14000 and TS16949. In 2002, Bosch Anderson was named the South Carolina Manufacturer of the Year and, in 2003, the plant was named recipient of the South Carolina Governor’s Quality Award.


Don Fowers Named 2003 CARQUEST Excellence Award Winner

Raleigh, NC – CARQUEST Auto Parts has named Don Fowers of Fowers Service Center in Clearfield, UT, as the 2003 CARQUEST Excellence Award winner. Fowers is an ASE-certified Master Automobile Technician, Master Medium/Heavy-Duty Technician and is Advanced Level (L1) Certified.

He received the award from Andy Stockel, chairman of CARQUEST Professional Markets, and Steve Massarelli, director of Marketing/Professional Markets, CARQUEST Corporation on Nov. 15 in Tampa, FL.

“I was in total shock when my name was announced at the awards banquet,” said Fowers, a first-time entry for the award, who is serviced by C & H Auto Parts in Layten, UT. “It’s an honor to win and I’m impressed in seeing how much CARQUEST cares and listens to the input from service dealers like myself.”

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Fowers is a 30-year veteran of the automotive repair industry. Fowers Service Center has earned the ASE Blue Seal at its two locations servicing Clearfield and Hopper, UT. The two locations have 16 employees and 17 service bays.

Along with his ASE certifications, Fowers is a member of the advisory board for the Ogden City & Weber County School Districts’ automotive programs, Weber State University Automotive TTECH program, member of the board of directors of the Automotive Aftermarket Advisory Council, member of the MAP organizing council, member of the ASA, committee chairman for EPA’s Car Care for Clean Air project, an AMI graduate and 17-year veteran of the National Ski Patrol.

The CARQUEST Excellence Award, in its 12th year, is announced annually in conjunction with the CARQUEST Technician’s Advisory Council meeting. Winners are judged in five areas: technical expertise, customer relations, industry involvement, shop appearance and community involvement. In 2003 there were more than 500 entries.


Ford Focuses on Fuel Part Replacement

Detroit – Ford Motor Co. said in November that it will replace a part in the fuel system of 671,000 Ford Focus vehicles because it can cause the engine to stall. According to the Associated Press, Ford had received reports of seven accidents and one injury due to the problem, spokesman Glenn Ray said. The manufacturer began notifying Focus owners about the defect.

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According to Ford, Focuses from 2000 and 2001 are affected. The part will be replaced for free if dealers determine it is causing engine problems. Engine problems caused by something else won’t be covered, Ford said.

Certain types of fuel can progressively clog the fuel pump filters, causing the vehicle to hesitate, surge and eventually stall. The part was redesigned in 2002 once Ford began learning of the problem, Ray said. A new part had to be designed for 2000 and 2001 vehicles.

The sputtering engines, which the company is blaming on the corrosive effect of dirt or sludge buildup in a fuel delivery module that was designed in Europe, is not something the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration would officially record as a quality problem or recall. Even if the vehicle reaches the point where it stalls, drivers can still maneuver their vehicles and restart them.

Ray said hesitation or stalling is most likely to occur in vehicles that have been driven 20,000 to 30,000 miles. Vehicles with less than a quarter tank of gas also are prone, he said.


Bendix Brakes Expands 2004 Training Curriculum

Troy, MI – Honeywell Friction Materials has expanded its training curriculum to include two new classes in 2004 – “Counter Personnel Product Knowledge and Sales Skills Training” and “Brake System Electronics.”

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Modified on an ongoing basis, “Product Knowledge and Sales Skills Training” teaches the fundamentals of successful customer communication and interaction, presents new sales and customer satisfaction techniques, and educates participants on products, trends and leading technology. Two different versions of this class are being offered – one catering to sales personnel and an all-new class focusing on educating counter personnel.

The second new class, designed to teach technicians basic electronic principals, will be available mid-second quarter 2004. “Brake System Electronics” will familiarize participants with the use of DVOMs and oscilloscopes in troubleshooting typical ABS electrical problems with motors, wheel speed sensors and actuators.

The remaining three courses include “Advanced Brake and Vehicle Control,” “SUV and Light Truck ABS” and “Import Braking Systems.”

For costs and schedules, installer customers should contact their local Bendix sales representative.


Mitchell 1 Integrates Parts Ordering Through Internet Autoparts, Inc.

Poway, CA – Mitchell 1 has announced a new program integrating its OnDemand5 Manager with Internet AutoParts, Inc. (IAP). This new program allows repair shops to order parts from their IAP supplier of choice using the IAP web-based parts ordering and communications platform.

Mitchell 1 is the first shop-management system provider to join forces with IAP to offer its customers Internet-based parts ordering. Mitchell 1’s OnDemand5 Manager program now offers its users the ability to expedite parts ordering transactions through a large base of participating distributors. Mitchell 1’s national network of electronic cataloging and e-commerce supply partners includes Activant (formerly CCTRIAD), NAPA, O’Reilly Auto Parts, Inc., and WorldPac.

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See What’s In It for You

Want to see the latest automotive aftermarket promotions available to your shop or technicians? Just visit Underhood Service’s website www.underhoodservice.com and click on the “Promo of the Week” link from the center of our homepage. This will take you to 10 current aftermarket promotions listed in alphabetical order.

Scroll down on the left of the webpage to view any of the promotional item links and click on them.

Companies and their current promotions include:

  • Airtex Presents Promotional Items To Valued Customers
  • NASCAR Ball Cap Giveaway from Airtex
  • Autolite Brand Launches 2004 Incentives Promotion
  • BENDIX BRAKES Launches “Outdoor Authentics”
  • CCC offers “Be Car Care Aware” Starter Kits
  • Dana Kicks Off 2004 Fantasy Racing League
  • FRAM Box Top Promotion Now Online
  • Qualitee International’s Helping Hands Promotion
  • Wiper Sales Are Cookin’ with TRICO
  • WIX Filters Gets Race Fans in the Winner’s Circle

Virginia Service Tech Receives Oulouhojian Technical Achievement Award

Lansdale, PA – Yeghia Bouroujian of Auto Air of Virginia, in Richmond, received the Simon Oulouhojian Technical Achievement Award at the 24th annual MACS Convention and Trade Show. The presentation was made on Jan. 23, during the Mobile A/C Industry Awards Luncheon sponsored by Delphi Product and Service Solutions.

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A training committee of MACS board members chose Bouroujian from a large field of candidates based on his efforts to pursue training in mobile A/C and engine cooling system service. In addition to a plaque and his convention expenses, Bouroujian was given a brand new tool box from Snap-on.

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