New from Innovate Motorsports – the MTX-L PLUS Wideband Air/Fuel Ratio Gauge. This precise gauge will help in tuning cars with aftermarket intakes and exhaust systems. See more details below.
Some may consider a wideband air-fuel ratio gauge to be an unnecessary expense or a distraction on the dashboard. After all, there’s a sophisticated engine computer receiving data from one or more oxygen sensors and making corrections to the fuel delivery as conditions warrant.
But just as drivers of modified vehicles and competitive racecars have always monitored engine oil pressure and coolant temperature to avoid catastrophic failure of the moving internals, today’s more savvy enthusiasts are watching the air-fuel ratio. Much of their interest is focused on optimizing tuning, yet keeping an eye on the gauge may also help steer clear of any destructive consequences resulting from overly lean conditions.
“An air-fuel ratio gauge is almost standard practice for anyone upgrading a factory car with an aftermarket intake and exhaust. Also, if you’re installing a power adder or increasing the factory boost levels. Finally, any carbureted application will need this gauge,” says Felipe Saez of Innovate Motorsports. “They want to make sure the air-fuel is safe.”
A stand-alone wideband O2 sensor and air-fuel gauge, such as the recently released MTX-L Plus from Innovate Motorsports, doesn’t the replace of factory setup, nor does it share its data with the stock ECU.
“It works in addition to the factory sensors,” adds Saez. “But if you have a stand-alone ECU or datalogger [as in a full competition vehicle] you can tie in with the sensor output.”
Innovate Motorsports recently upgraded the industry’s best selling stand-alone wideband digital O2 sensor and gauge—the MTX-L. Now marketed as the MTX-L PLUS, the gauge features a large digital readout in either air-fuel ratio or Lambda. There’s also a programmable “needle bar” or series of green, yellow or red LED lights that can alert the driver when A/F moves into a certain range.
“You can dictate the colors for the air-fuel ratio,” says Saez. “At a glance you’ll know exactly which area you’re in.”
For example, green could be a minimum of 8:1 and a maximum of 13.2:1. Yellow could have a maximum of 16:1 and red could have a maximum of 22:1—easily alerting the driver of potential problems such as injector failure.
The original MTX-L was released in 2009, but the new PLUS model is seven times faster with a four-millisecond response time.
“Not only do we display information quicker, but we can also output information quicker via the data logger or ECU,” says Saez, noting that engineers developed a faster processor and enhanced the software to take advantage of the increased speed. “We were able to increase the sensor frequency, and we get feedback from the sensor seven times quicker.”
The advantages of a wideband O2 sensor are not disputed. Many factory applications come with narrowband sensors with a 1-volt range that are capable of only telling the ECU if the air-fuel mixture is lean, rich or the correct stoichiometric calculation, which often is referred to simply as “stoich.” That term refers to the optimum chemically correct ratio of air and fuel for a complete burn or combustion. Automakers use narrowband sensors because they’re cost effective and the ECU doesn’t need to know any more information other than rich, lean or stoich.
Racing and high-performance street applications, however, need exact air-fuel ratios down to a tenth of a decimal for tuning purposes. A wideband sensor will offer a range of at least five volts, proving much more precision in reading the exhaust gasses. With the accuracy of a wideband O2 sensor, however, comes a little more cost and sophistication. A wideband sensor requires a heating element that must be kept at the correct temperature to provide an accurate reading.