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Re: would 02 sensor cause excessive carbon deposits
Pretty good guess on the 02 sensor; this feeds back info to the computer to either enrich or lean out the fuel-air mixture.
I don't think it will pass emissions testing if you suffer from those in your state but it has probably already eaten your catalytic convertor.
You could check this by picking a hill and having a friend trail you and sniff the air when you are pulling the grade and punching the gas; if the cat is still alive, your friend will be greeted by that rotten egg smell; otherwise he'll just see black smoke from your unburned fuel.
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Code p1406 is an EGR code but that has nothing to do with the light not working. Some one has probably taken the bulb out instead of fixing the EGR valve problem. You could just have a bad EGR valve or the ports under the EGR valve could be plugged with carbon . You need to remove the EGR valve to pinpoint the exhaust gas curcuit problem.
I would like to encourage you to consider buying the service manual for your car; they can answer questions such as your current one and help you decide if an estimate you have gotten appears to be fair or not.
Buick Skylark manual
Unstable idle can be caused by a vaccum leak. Best way to find a vaccum leak I have found is to
take a tube ( fuel hose or 1/4 inch vaccum line 2 or 3 ft long ) and put one end to your ear and use
the other end to probe around the engine intake manifold area and where ever vaccum lines connect
as well as along each vaccun line to ck for breaks or splits. Another method is to use WD40 to spray
around manifold an vaccun lines. This method usually will ( if there is a leak ) stablize the idle and
cause the idle to increase. Or you can use carb cleaner or startind fluid but these are quite volital and
can cause a fire. So be very careful how you use them. The WD 40 is unlikely to catch fire that is why I RECOMEND IT. With the tube method you will hear a hissing or sucking sound when you find a vaccun leak. Good luck.