Narrow Band vs. Wide Band Air Fuel Ratio Meter

a yellow meter device

An air fuel ratio meter is a type of gauge that is used in cars, boats or any vehicle that has an internal combustion engine. Its job is to detect how much voltage is emitted by the engine’s oxygen sensor, and in so doing, it can gauge the engine’s air-fuel ratio. Air fuel ratio meters are important because they help to ensure that your vehicle is using fuel efficiently, helps your catalytic converter to work optimally and thus cuts down on toxic emissions, and maximizes the engine’s performance in general. Nowadays, there are 2 types of air fuel ratio meters on the market: narrow-band readers, and wide-band readers. Keep reading to find out how the two are different, and their pros and cons.

Narrow Band vs. Wide Band Air Fuel Ratio Meter: Physical Qualities

The narrow band meter has long been the standard in cars, although now it’s becoming a bit antiquated. They are present in your car in a round-shaped housing. Like the other gauges in your car, the mounting usually measures in either 2 1/16 inch diameter or 2 5/8 inch diameter, with 10 to 20 LEDs. Some are available with a needle-style gauge interface. The reliability of the narrow band meter can be negatively affected by increasing gas temperatures, so they have to be used with care.

Wide band meters are newer and more accurate. They can either stand alone or be mounted in round housings also. Unlike the narrow band meters, these have a numeric display, and can display much more sensitive and accurate information. They have a linear output of 0 to 5 V and can function no matter what the temperature of your car’s engine.

Narrow Band vs. Wide Band Air Fuel Ratio Meters: Which One Should I Use?

If you have an older car that you just need to check on from time to time, especially if you suspect that something might be wrong with the oxygen sensor, then a plain old narrow band reader will probably do just fine. These models are cheaper, and as long as you’re not worried about getting a very sensitive reading, then the narrow band should do just fine.

On the other hand, if it’s your treasured sports car that we’re talking about, or if you need to perform some really sensitive, highly refined maintenance, then you should really spring for the wide band meter. The wide band meter gives you more accurate information, gives you more precise numbers, is reliable no matter the temperature and is easier to read. If you feel that there’s a lot at stake for the health of your car, then, it’s worth the extra investment in a wide band air fuel ratio meter.