You could lose fuel miliage for one, if it is causing a rich condition. That would also add to the chance of fuel getting into the oil or starting to damage the converter. It could cause a lean conditon as well that could lead to pinging and possible head gasket failure. Hard to say how quick or how bad. Costs can be all over the board. Usually it isn't a big job.
Had this problem on my son's '97 GMC 350, before and after an engine overhaul. (overhaul was not result of oxy sensor failure)
It has four sensors on a "dual exhaust" system. Advance auto parts read the codes and identified the culprit for free, although they warned that the possibility of a malfunctioning converter was NOT ruled out! Resetting the code put the light out...for a few days. The first sensor was replaced during over haul. Two weeks later the light was coming on again and it took some careful interpretation to notice it was the rear sensor on the OTHER bank. The first sensor was OEM @ $75, the second was Adv @ $50.
My 18 yr. old son lives out of state (NM) and I (in Ark)wanted to the on board diagnostics to be remain functional for his "first" vehicle. That was a year ago and all is working well.
That is most likely the Check Engine Light. In most usual cases, it's just a faulty sensor you need to replace. Any dealer of your brand of vehicle has code readers for these lights and could tell you what sensor is faulty. Beware, they can be costly though. Anything computer is. I believe you would not pass inspection if this was not fixed. Now if the Service Vehicle Soon light came on, stop driving it, you'd have a major issue that could kill the engine.
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