Lambda sensor (titania) - voltage

The purpose of this test is to evaluate the correct operation of a titania lambda sensor during engine run conditions based upon response time and output voltage. 

Connection guidance

Connection for diagnostic work will vary dependent on application.

Technicians should whenever possible gain access to the test circuit without damage to seals and insulation. If this is not possible then make sure appropriate repairs are completed.

General connection advice:

PicoScope offers a range of options within the test kits.

Dependent on difficulty of access, choose from:

  1. Breakout leads.
  2. Back-pinning probes.

Testing sensors and actuators (to include relevant circuit/connectors):

  • When testing a sensor, it is desirable to gain access at the control module.
  • When testing an actuator, it is desirable to gain access at the actuator.

How to perform the test

  1. Use the vehicle wiring diagram to identify the sensor signal circuit.
  2. Connect PicoScope Channel A to the vehicle.
  3. Start the engine and run up to normal operating temperature.
  4. Allow the engine to run at idle speed.
  5. Minimise the help page and with the example waveform on your screen PicoScope has already selected suitable scales for you to capture a waveform.
  6. Select GO or press the space bar to see live data.
  7. With your live waveform on screen select STOP or press the space bar to stop your capture.
  8. Turn off the engine.
  9. Use the WAVEFORM BUFFER and ZOOM tools to examine your waveform.

Example waveform

Waveform notes

The lambda sensor is also referred to as the Oxygen (O2) sensor plays a very important role in the control of exhaust emissions on a catalytic equipped vehicle.

The lambda sensor is fitted into the exhaust pipe before the catalytic converter. The sensor will have 4 electrical connections and it reacts to the oxygen content in the exhaust system and will produce an oscillating voltage between 0.5 V (lean) to 4.0 V, or above (rich) when working correctly.

Titania sensors unlike Zirconia sensors, require a voltage supply as they do not generate their own voltage. A vehicle equipped with a lambda sensor is said to have closed loop, this means that after the combustion process, the sensor will analyse the emissions providing data for the re-adjustment of fueling.

Titania O2 sensors have a heater element to assist the sensor reaching its optimum operating temperature. The sensor when working correctly will switch approximately once per second 1 Hz,  but will only start to switch when at normal operating temperature. 

If the frequency of the switching is slower than anticipated, remove the sensor and clean with a solvent spray and this may improve the response time.

Waveform Library

Go to the drop-down menu bar at the lower left corner of the Waveform Library window and select, Oxygen / O2/ Lambda sensor. 

Further guidance

The O2 sensor or a Heated Exhaust Gas Oxygen (HEGO) sensor and plays a very important role in control of exhaust emissions on a catalytic equipped vehicle. The lambda sensor is fitted into the exhaust pipe before the catalytic converter; cars using the new EOBD2 will also have a post cat lambda sensor.

The sensor will have varying electrical connections and may have up to four wires; it reacts to the oxygen content in the exhaust system and will produce a small voltage depending on the Air/Fuel mixture seen at the time. The voltage range seen will, in most cases, vary between 0.2 and 0.8 V: 0.2 V indicates a lean mixture and a voltage of 0.8 V shows a richer mixture. 

Lambda sensors can have a heater element which heats the sensor to its optimum operating temperature of 600C, this enables the sensor to be located further away from the heat source at the manifold to a cleaner location. The sensor is inoperative below 300C.

The lambda sensor is essentially two porous platinum electrodes. The outer electrode surface is exposed to the exhaust gasses and is coated in a porous ceramic with the inner coated surface exposed to fresh air.

The most commonly used sensor uses a Zirconia element, producing a voltage when a difference in oxygen content is seen between the two electrodes. This signal is then sent to the Electronic Control Module (ECM) and the mixture is adjusted accordingly.

Titania is also used in the manufacturer of another type of lambda sensor that offers a faster switching time than the more common Zirconia sensor.

The Titania oxygen sensor differs from the Zirconia sensor in the fact that it is incapable of producing its own output voltage and is therefore reliant upon a 5 volt supply from the ECM. The reference voltage is altered according to the engine air fuel ratio, with a lean mixture returning a voltage as low as 0.4 V to a rich mixture producing a voltage in the region of 4.0 V.

An ECM will only control the fuelling in closed loop when the appropriate conditions allow, this is normally during: idle, light load and cruise operations. When the vehicle accelerates the ECM allows over fuelling and ignores the lambda signals. This is also the case for initial warm-up.

Both Titania and Zirconia sensors when working correctly will switch approximately once per second (1 Hz) and will both only start to switch once the normal operating temperature has been achieved. 


This help topic is subject to changes without notification. The information within is carefully checked and considered to be correct. This information is an example of our investigations and findings and is not a definitive procedure. Pico Technology accepts no responsibility for inaccuracies. Each vehicle may be different and require unique test settings.

Suitable accessories

  • Premium 6-way breakout lead set


  • Back-pinning Probe Set


  • Flexible Back-pinning Probe


  • PicoScope Battery Clip


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Guided test: Lambda sensor (titania) - voltage