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Catalytic Converter Meltdown, Overheated Engine

 
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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 25 Dec 2011, 04:00 pm
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Default Catalytic Converter Meltdown, Overheated Engine

As the title so implies, here is a brief run down. My mom-in-law owns a 2009 PT with 55K, n/a, and an automatic. From what I can tell, it was a program car before she bought it. So I know it was driven like it was stolen before she bought the car. It is currently at a the local Dodge dealership with some interesting issues.

About two weeks ago, the PT started having issues going over 40 mph and bogging down pretty bad. A couple of days after this happened, it apparently overheated. She had it towed to a local Midas (?!). They informed her that the thermostat and housing needed to be replaced at the tune of $659.00. I called BS on them and they knocked it down to about $200. They said it may also need the catalytic converter replaced. I decided it may be time to have a qualified tech inspect the car due to the fact that a CC doesn't just fail. An overheated engine doesn't seem like it could cause that issue unless coolant had leaked past the head gasket and gotten into the CC. I CAN however see that if a rich condition we present, it could cause the CC to fail. To my knowledge, the engine was in good running order.

The dealership had to tear the engine down partially. They stated that during the overheating, it could have jumped timing. I can see the possibility of this happening. After a call back from the dealership, they stated that in deed the CC had melted down not allowing exhaust to flow through. The O2 sensors and spark plugs would also need to replaced.

So, here is my question, in a round about way. The Emissions and PCM are covered for 8 years/80K miles. If the CC failed, causing the O2 sensors and spark plugs to fail also, wouldn't IT cause the overheating issue? The dealership says that the issue was started with the thermostat sticking, therefore causing the CC and everything else to fail.

Has anyone else had this type of issue and been able to square up with the Chrysler warranty department with the emissions items? I can handle paying for the initial teardown for diagnosis, plus the cost of the plugs and sensors. But, paying for a $1,200 CC? What options do I have in helping my M-I-L out?

I would greatly appreciate any and all help on this matter.
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  #2 (permalink)  
Old 25 Dec 2011, 04:12 pm
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Default Re: Catalytic Converter Meltdown, Overheated Engine

The dealer is the only one that would ask that much for a CC and labor to install it. Try any shop that deals in mufflers and any vehicle maintenance. They should be able to beat that price by up to half. Shop around
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  #3 (permalink)  
Old 25 Dec 2011, 11:03 pm
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Default Re: Catalytic Converter Meltdown, Overheated Engine

Number 1: In my opinion, Midas is poo. Stay away. Find another repair shop. Your first experience there should be a guide.

Number 2: Prior to your MIL buying the car, who owned it? What sort of "program car" was it? Were there service records? Had there ever been cooling service work done? If yes, was the correct coolant/anti-freeze put in? That matters. The PT Cruiser calls for HOAT (Hybrid Organic Acid Technology) coolant that is Chrysler approved. Dex-Cool will cause serious problems. I am not certain that Dex-Cool will gum up a thermostat, but it will clog the radiator, harden the water pump seals and damage the head gasket, over time. If Dex-Cool was put in at, say, 24,000 miles for some unaccountable reason, expect problems.

Number 3: While the car was at Midas getting the new thermostat and housing, what coolant did they put in? I would wager that it was Dex-Cool. Did Midas bleed the system after they replaced the thermostat and housing? Few cars need to have that done, but it is essential--and really dead easy--with a PT Cruiser.

Number 4: You might get the impression that i don't like Midas. That would be correct. My first and last personal instance of being gypped by them was in 1970. Since that time, my observations of friends and colleagues having similar experiences across the USA has not improved my opinion one single bit. The prior owner of my 2001 had it serviced at Midas. They put Dex-Cool in the cooling system. So when I bought it, it needed a new radiator, thermostat, thermostat housing and a new water pump. With the water pump, thermostat, housing and radiator--installed at Bill Luke Chrysler in Phoenix--we also had the timing belt done.

Number 5: The emissions warranty should still be in effect for the catalytic converter. Did the overheating cause the catalytic converter to clog? If the dealer says that it did, ask them to explain how that happened. Before you do so, ask your MIL if she drove it with the temperature gauge pegged on "HOT." (I am not sure how driving on an overheated engine would cause the belt to jump--maybe someone else can explain that.) What state are you in? It matters. If you are in California, contacting the California Air Resources Board (CARB) might get the dealer to be a little more helpful. If you live in a location where you need to get annual smog inspections, contacting that agency might work. Failing that, contacting the Chrysler Zone Office might work.
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Last edited by Matt42; 25 Dec 2011 at 11:08 pm.
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Old 25 Dec 2011, 11:25 pm
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Default Re: Catalytic Converter Meltdown, Overheated Engine

Let me add that an aftermarket CC is about $200

RockAuto Parts Catalog
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Old 25 Dec 2011, 11:33 pm
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Default Re: Catalytic Converter Meltdown, Overheated Engine

Haven't heard of a cat failing from overheat.

one of our MegaSquirt transistors failed a few blocks from home, so we made it on two cylinders.
The Cat was GLOWING, big time.

it's still on the car and operating.
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Old 25 Dec 2011, 11:34 pm
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Default Re: Catalytic Converter Meltdown, Overheated Engine

Quote:
Originally Posted by XtrmDC2 View Post
Let me add that an aftermarket CC is about $200

RockAuto Parts Catalog
And fairly simple to install.
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Old 25 Dec 2011, 11:37 pm
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Default Re: Catalytic Converter Meltdown, Overheated Engine

Is there an American Muffler Shop near you. They are reasonably priced custom exhaust specialists.
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Old 26 Dec 2011, 02:13 pm
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Default Re: Catalytic Converter Meltdown, Overheated Engine

Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt42 View Post
Number 1: In my opinion, Midas is poo. Stay away. Find another repair shop. Your first experience there should be a guide.

That is exactly what I did. My M-I-L's husband is an absolute tool and for some reason, he tells her to take it Midas. In my experience, get it check out by a qualified technician first, then go from there.

Number 2: Prior to your MIL buying the car, who owned it? What sort of "program car" was it? Were there service records? Had there ever been cooling service work done? If yes, was the correct coolant/anti-freeze put in? That matters. The PT Cruiser calls for HOAT (Hybrid Organic Acid Technology) coolant that is Chrysler approved. Dex-Cool will cause serious problems. I am not certain that Dex-Cool will gum up a thermostat, but it will clog the radiator, harden the water pump seals and damage the head gasket, over time. If Dex-Cool was put in at, say, 24,000 miles for some unaccountable reason, expect problems.

She purchased her PT from a Subaru dealership who had the car on the used car lot. As for the program car, it had all the typical signs of being used as a rental or fleet vehicle. The tell tale signs were all the scuff marks on the top of the rear bumper, barcode stickers on the rear side windows, and mileage right at 37K. I have had experience witht he DEX-COOL on many of my previous GM vehicles. I became fairly familiar with changing UIM and LIM gaskets on 3.8's. I'm not sure what Midas put back in the engine concerning the coolant. But, she did drive it, I'm guessing, for a couple of days before I told her to take it to the dealership.

Number 3: While the car was at Midas getting the new thermostat and housing, what coolant did they put in? I would wager that it was Dex-Cool. Did Midas bleed the system after they replaced the thermostat and housing? Few cars need to have that done, but it is essential--and really dead easy--with a PT Cruiser.

Number 4: You might get the impression that i don't like Midas. That would be correct. My first and last personal instance of being gypped by them was in 1970. Since that time, my observations of friends and colleagues having similar experiences across the USA has not improved my opinion one single bit. The prior owner of my 2001 had it serviced at Midas. They put Dex-Cool in the cooling system. So when I bought it, it needed a new radiator, thermostat, thermostat housing and a new water pump. With the water pump, thermostat, housing and radiator--installed at Bill Luke Chrysler in Phoenix--we also had the timing belt done.

Number 5: The emissions warranty should still be in effect for the catalytic converter. Did the overheating cause the catalytic converter to clog? If the dealer says that it did, ask them to explain how that happened. Before you do so, ask your MIL if she drove it with the temperature gauge pegged on "HOT." (I am not sure how driving on an overheated engine would cause the belt to jump--maybe someone else can explain that.) What state are you in? It matters. If you are in California, contacting the California Air Resources Board (CARB) might get the dealer to be a little more helpful. If you live in a location where you need to get annual smog inspections, contacting that agency might work. Failing that, contacting the Chrysler Zone Office might work.
Thanks for the guidance!. The dealership stated that the snapshot of the data indicated that it had last run at 272 degrees. If I hit a brick wall with the dealership, I'll start there. We live in West Texas. As for the emissions testing and such, there is no such thing. As long as everything that was original to the emission system is intact and functioning, thats all they care about. No sniffer test whatsoever.

Last edited by phrankenstine; 27 Dec 2011 at 12:39 pm. Reason: Site didn't recognize my full response.
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Old 26 Dec 2011, 03:54 pm
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Default Re: Catalytic Converter Meltdown, Overheated Engine

What does coolant temp have to do with cat meltdown?

Lesson learned, before you bring car in for warranty, clear PCM memory.
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Old 27 Dec 2011, 12:56 pm
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Default Re: Catalytic Converter Meltdown, Overheated Engine

@ MATT42

Let me redo this previous reply. For some reason, the site didn't add all of my reply.

I believe that the car was originally a rental car in it's previous life. The reasoning for that opinion is that is has alot of scuff marks on top of the rear bumper, bar code stcikers on the rear side windows, and it had right ay 37K on it when she bought it. I'm SURE it wasn't driven like it was stolen. Yeah, right. When the dealership explained to me what they found, they stated that the snapshot of the PCM told them that the temp was 272 when it was captured by the PCM. I honestly have no idea what Midas put in the coolant system. I do know that she drove the car for short periods of time after having the t-stat and housing replaced. As for how long and if it got hot again, I have no idea.

I'm going to the dealership later today to have them explain how the overheating issue caused the CC to melt down. THe way I see it, it's the other way around.

I have not seen the underside of the PT, so I'm not sure if the CC assembly is easily swapped out. Do they have flange connections at the muffler connection? I know that at the exhaust manifold to the headpipe there is. If it has connections fore and aft, it'll be a walk in the park. Anyone have some pics of the underside of a PT?
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