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Old 10-28-2011, 10:49 PM   #1 (permalink)
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What Would Make A Catalytic Converter Go Bad?

My check engine light on my 2005 Nissan Frontier came on so I took it to the dealer today. He said one of the two catalytic converters is deteriorating. What would cause that?

The car just sits in my driveway since I bought an old Honda Accord in February. I drive my Honda Accord around as a daily driver so the truck doesn't get much mileage
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Old 10-28-2011, 10:55 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I always thought it was from them becoming occluded. They have small passage ways and they can get clogged.

here is a good link:

HowStuffWorks "Causes of Catalytic Converter Failure"
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Old 10-28-2011, 11:23 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Is the dealer going to replace it under warranty? I thought emissions systems had longer warranties.
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Old 10-28-2011, 11:42 PM   #4 (permalink)
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No warranty. The truck has 111K miles
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Old 10-29-2011, 01:27 AM   #5 (permalink)
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I had the fuel injector driver on one of my cars go bad holding two injectors wide open. It dumped so much I had fuel running out the tail pipes. CATs lasted about 6 months after that
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Old 10-29-2011, 01:48 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Eastern Catalytic Catalytic Converter Education Resources
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Old 10-29-2011, 02:56 AM   #7 (permalink)
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No warranty. The truck has 111K miles
Oh! Well that's not too bad. The one on my Dodge Ram broke apart at 120,000 miles.
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Old 10-29-2011, 03:18 AM   #8 (permalink)
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I believe that Calif extends the emission warranty to 7 years...which includes cats. Have you had any o2 sensor issues? Check Engine Light? What codes are present. If the o2 sensor allows a richer mixture you could ruin a cat. Same is true of leaking injectors. Do you have any running issues?

Food for thought.
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Old 10-29-2011, 03:34 AM   #9 (permalink)
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The check engine light was on so that was what prompted me to take it in
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Old 10-29-2011, 03:58 AM   #10 (permalink)
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what was the exact OBDII code you got.

with the CARB requirement in CA, new cats are a big money maker for dealers and they have EVERY incentive to replace them for you.

i'd be interested to know what sensor is telling the dealer that your cats are "deteriorating" since there's no sensor for that! did they run a smog check on it? what were the results?

i'm calling BS on that one...
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Old 10-29-2011, 11:38 AM   #11 (permalink)
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It does happen. My wife's 08 Subaru kept getting misfire codes and started running like crap. Felt like something was restricting the engine. Had about 40k miles on it. 2 cats were bad. Replaced under warantee. I believe the car actually has 3 cats in it.
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Old 10-29-2011, 12:24 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Hopefully you can get the code that shows it's the cat. It could be one of the oxygen sensors.
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Old 10-29-2011, 12:51 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Had the same problem with my Lincoln apparently it was running too rich
I went on line had a used one shipped & when it arrived it looked just about new ( probably cut off a parked vehicle somewhere )
Cost was minimal & installed it at our shop
I bypass the stealerships if possible
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Old 10-29-2011, 01:14 PM   #14 (permalink)
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How often do you start the vehicle up just to move it out of the way? I've heard that starting up an engine for a short duration like that creates condensation. Unless you allow it to run until it gets hot, the condensation doesn't get a chance to evaporate. Then it just sits there with condensation wherever it collects. Maybe in the cats.
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Old 10-29-2011, 02:09 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Quote:
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what was the exact OBDII code you got.

with the CARB requirement in CA, new cats are a big money maker for dealers and they have EVERY incentive to replace them for you.

i'd be interested to know what sensor is telling the dealer that your cats are "deteriorating" since there's no sensor for that! did they run a smog check on it? what were the results?

i'm calling BS on that one...
A buddy of mine has a Dodge Durango and had an O2 sensor throwing a signal. After checking, it looked like he had 4 O2 sensors, one before and after the cats on both exhaust pipes. Maybe the the computer is making calculations based on that.
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Old 10-29-2011, 02:28 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Quote:
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How often do you start the vehicle up just to move it out of the way? I've heard that starting up an engine for a short duration like that creates condensation. Unless you allow it to run until it gets hot, the condensation doesn't get a chance to evaporate. Then it just sits there with condensation wherever it collects. Maybe in the cats.
The truck just sits in the driveway. Once a week I move it across the street to mow the lawn and blow the driveway clean. Maybe I should drive it around the city instead.
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Old 10-29-2011, 03:11 PM   #17 (permalink)
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I've seen converters go bad on Nissan's at about that mileage for no particular reason. I think they just wear out to the point where they are not doing a good enough job scrubbing the exhaust.

The way the computer determines if they are bad is comparing the front and rear O2 signals. The code you got was most likely a P0420 type code.

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Old 10-29-2011, 05:23 PM   #18 (permalink)
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I never just start a fuel injected car to move it just as you describe. I had an Infiniti service dept tell me never to do that as it loads the cylinders with a bunch of fuel at cold start up. I run it at least to the end of the block and back to park it.

Is it possible that repeated cold starts has loaded your cat?

Someone chime in here if I'm full of BS but I'm really just thinking out loud.

Good luck Bill

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Old 10-29-2011, 05:41 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Thanks for the tip Bob
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Old 10-29-2011, 05:43 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Quote:
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The truck just sits in the driveway. Once a week I move it across the street to mow the lawn and blow the driveway clean. Maybe I should drive it around the city instead.
Quote:
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I never just start a fuel injected car to move it just as you describe. I had an Infiniti service dept tell me never to do that as it loads the cylinders with a bunch of fuel at cold start up. I run it at least to the end of the block and back to park it.

Is it possible that repeated cold starts has loaded your cat?

Someone chime in here if I'm full of BS but I'm really just thinking out loud.

Good luck Bill

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With the way that you described, each start up (in rich state), unburned fuel is building up in the cat. Front o2 reads cleaner than the rear o2 (reading rich from unburned fuel in cat). Drive the truck for about 20-30 minutes. Clear the code(s). Do the same routine the next weekend (not just moving the truck across the street. If code pops after a decent drive, THEN there could be $$$ problems. But of course, you already knew that, huh.
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Old 10-29-2011, 05:47 PM   #21 (permalink)
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The check engine light went out for awhile and then came back on. It wouldn't go out. So I took the car in for service.

I will drive the truck once a week to the gym. It's 20 mins each way.
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Old 10-29-2011, 06:21 PM   #22 (permalink)
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Quote:
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The check engine light went out for awhile and then came back on. It wouldn't go out. So I took the car in for service.

I will drive the truck once a week to the gym. It's 20 mins each way.
If the code(s) aren't cleared, the check engine light will come on intermittently seeing as they are stored in the ECM when similar conditions are present.
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Old 10-29-2011, 07:23 PM   #23 (permalink)
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Turn the light off and take it for a good drive get the cat good and hot. Then see how long it take for t light to come back on. That is what I would do but I am cheap.
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Old 10-29-2011, 07:57 PM   #24 (permalink)
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I would double check the Ca requirements for the warranty as I believe that it is a ten year warranty mandated by the state on the emissions system. My 2006 trailblazer comes with a standard 10 year warranty on all emissions components, a separate warranty that has no connection to drivetrain or bumper to bumper warranties.

It is illegal in the state of CA to purchase or sell used catalytic converters even if you are parting out your own vehicle and can only purchase new ones thru a dealer or parts distributor and needs to have specific information for your vehicle stamped on the cat.

In my opinion the state has created the black market for thieves and the illegal sale of cats because of their mandates and policies.

My poor Mom had to go through all kinds of red tape because her honda was throwing codes and wouldnt pass smog, and due to the emissions regs she couldnt even get a used exhaust manifold because the catalytic converter is an integral part of the manifold. She actually needs a new motor but due to the cost of the cats and the fact that the state says she has to get her car repaired by a state authorized repair facility the facility only repair what is needed to pass emissions and take her money and two weeks later the car runs worse than before. But she can now drive with registration tags for the next two years, Go Figure!
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Old 10-29-2011, 08:18 PM   #25 (permalink)
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What Bob says does make sense to me, as a cat convertor is nothing more than a honeycomb style ceramic web that once gets hot from the exhaust gasses passing through it, burns any unburnt fuel, resulting in cleaner emissions. So, repeated short starts, would not allow it to get up to proper temp, to burn off, therefore getting clogged.
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Old 10-29-2011, 08:33 PM   #26 (permalink)
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Turn the light off and take it for a good drive get the cat good and hot. Then see how long it take for t light to come back on. That is what I would do but I am cheap.
Gregg
Tried that already. Didn't change anything
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Old 10-29-2011, 09:24 PM   #27 (permalink)
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The dealer just called and said the car was all back together but running very badly. I reminded him that the truck was running perfectly when I brought it in. He assured me that they will get it fixed at no additional cost to me.

We'll see
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Old 10-29-2011, 09:30 PM   #28 (permalink)
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The dealer just called and said the car was all back together but running very badly. I reminded him that the truck was running perfectly when I brought it in. He assured me that they will get it fixed at no additional cost to me.

We'll see

Gotta wonder if it was a bad O2 sensor all along?
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Old 10-29-2011, 11:30 PM   #29 (permalink)
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The dealer just called and said the car was all back together but running very badly. I reminded him that the truck was running perfectly when I brought it in. He assured me that they will get it fixed at no additional cost to me.

We'll see
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Old 10-30-2011, 01:28 AM   #30 (permalink)
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Gotta wonder if it was a bad O2 sensor all along?
I'm thinking the same thing Bob
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