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P0420 Code Advice Needed

 
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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 31 Dec 2014, 08:48 am
falconut's Avatar
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Default P0420 Code Advice Needed

Okay, I've been reading as much as I can on this, but I'm still confused and really don't want to just start throwing money at the problem.

My 2007 Base Model PT has 115,200 miles and on my way to work yesterday the "Check Engine" light came on. Great, right. So, that night I took it to Auto Zone to have the code read. It came up with:

Troubleshooting P0420
Definition
Catalyst efficiency low-bank 1
Explanation
The oxygen sensors monitor the Catalytic Converters ability to store oxygen
Probable cause
1. - Catalytic converter defective (failure
possibly due to #2,3, or 4)
2. - Engine misfire or running condition
3. - Large vacuum leak
4. - Engine oil leakage into exhaust-valve guide seals, piston rings

The engine seems to be running fine, don't believe there's a misfire, didn't hear any air noise under the hood and the oil level is good (just checked it this weekend after 2k miles from doing the oil change).

I last changed the spark plugs about 25k miles ago and used the standard copper champion plugs. I researched a little and read that copper plugs typically only last about 10k - 25k miles. Should I change the plugs and see if that does anything? Wouldn't I feel a misfire though?

I've also read that it could be an O2 sensor, but wouldn't that give off a different code if it was bad? I was thinking about replacing the sensors, but had hear to use factory parts here, which would be around $100. But, don't want to just throw money away. I can get NTK sensors for a little less and they say they're original equipment & in stock, would they be just as good?

I can't do the Catalytic Converter myself, so it will cost me a pretty penny, I'm sure. Is there a way to test or tell if this is the problem? After researching, some people say that the exhaust smells like eggs if bad, but I'm not sure how correct that is.

Any suggestions would be appreciated.
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Old 31 Dec 2014, 08:56 am
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Default Re: P0420 Code Advice Needed

First off, a code like that could be just a one-off instance and not be something that needs immediate attention so I would clear the code and see if it comes up again after driving. Yes, we (most of us) recommend using MOPAR brand sensors but I used BOSCH myself years ago around the 100,000 mile mark for preventative maintenance. No codes before, no codes since.

If you live in a state that has inspections and one is due soon, then yes, that P0420 code will cause you to fail and you need to look into the cause right away.
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Old 31 Dec 2014, 09:55 am
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Default Re: P0420 Code Advice Needed

I guess it's a one-off instance, but it hasn't gone off since it came on and dings at me every time I start the car. How do I clear the code? Disconnect the negative battery terminal?

In NJ, they only test for emissions every two years. I'm not due again until 3/2016, so I have some time. Just wouldn't want this to cause any problems if I ignore it.

Should I clear the code and replace the plugs & see if it comes back or just clear the code & see?
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Old 31 Dec 2014, 10:15 am
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Default Re: P0420 Code Advice Needed

I would just clear the code and see. Negative battery cable off for about 5 minutes. Step on the brake pedal while the cable is off to get rid of any residual charge. Put it back together and it might run rough for a couple minutes but will clear up. Use the car normally to see if the fault code comes up again.
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Old 31 Dec 2014, 10:41 am
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Default Re: P0420 Code Advice Needed

As always, thanks CREWZIN. Will try this and update. Have a Happy New Year.
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Old 31 Dec 2014, 11:14 am
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Default Re: P0420 Code Advice Needed

Thanks. I'll be on Route 95 heading south to Florida from Virginia on New years Day. Good time to travel as roads are relatively quiet. Had a great time with my Grandkids and son but it's way too cold up here for me.
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Old 02 Jan 2015, 10:21 am
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Default Re: P0420 Code Advice Needed

Okay, went to unscrew the negative battery cable Wednesday night and found this:

Cleaned it off as best as I could using a wire brush, but couldn't get the screw to turn. Didn't want to break anything, it was dark & cold. So, I removed the positive instead. Waited 5 seconds, pumped the brake a few times and re-connected. I'll have to get to clean the cable better when it warms up and during the day.

I was also directed by my friend who is a mechanic to get a can of Seafoam and pour it into the gas tank and fill up with a top tier gas. He says that he sees this code sometimes when people use lesser quality fuel. Not sure how true this is, but I added a bottle of Seafoam before I disconnected the battery cable. Then on Thursday I filled up at Shell, which is listed as a top tier fuel.

The light is still off after my commute to work today, about a 35 minute drive (27 miles). Speed was pretty constant 45 for about 15 minutes, then around 65-75 for the remainder. Does anybody know how long it typically takes PTs to recycle through and regenerate the codes?
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Old 02 Jan 2015, 11:01 am
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Default Re: P0420 Code Advice Needed

The method of disconnecting the battery for clearing the DTC will not help you.


As you are in a state that requires a smog inspection I recommend to go a service center that perform,s smog inspections that can do a base line check on your emissions to see if you have a failing CAT. They will also be able to properly check and clear any and all DTC's as well view your readiness file. Depending on your states emissions law they may or may not be able to re-set it.

Other wise get a scan tool and do a proper diagnostic check for clearing and re-checking DTCs.

I personally do not recommend to start replacing suspected parts if you have not first tested them. You may create more issues.
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Old 02 Jan 2015, 01:04 pm
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Default Re: P0420 Code Advice Needed

Quote:
Originally Posted by falconut View Post
Okay, went to unscrew the negative battery cable Wednesday night and found this:

Cleaned it off as best as I could using a wire brush, but couldn't get the screw to turn. Didn't want to break anything, it was dark & cold. So, I removed the positive instead. Waited 5 seconds, pumped the brake a few times and re-connected. I'll have to get to clean the cable better when it warms up and during the day.

I was also directed by my friend who is a mechanic to get a can of Seafoam and pour it into the gas tank and fill up with a top tier gas. He says that he sees this code sometimes when people use lesser quality fuel. Not sure how true this is, but I added a bottle of Seafoam before I disconnected the battery cable. Then on Thursday I filled up at Shell, which is listed as a top tier fuel.

The light is still off after my commute to work today, about a 35 minute drive (27 miles). Speed was pretty constant 45 for about 15 minutes, then around 65-75 for the remainder. Does anybody know how long it typically takes PTs to recycle through and regenerate the codes?
If the condition that sets the code were present, it would reappear immediately. If you had not disconnected the battery, after a number of start/stop cycles (I don't know the number) without the condition to set the code present, the CEL would have gone off by itself.

When was battery last replaced? That terminal looks awful! When you clean it up, get those felt washers and put them on posts - they seem to help - at least, they can't hurt.
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Last edited by quicksilverdon; 02 Jan 2015 at 01:07 pm.
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  #10 (permalink)  
Old 02 Jan 2015, 01:30 pm
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Default Re: P0420 Code Advice Needed

Had the engine light come on in my wife's new Chevy Cruise on the way to Virginia. Went through terrible rain storms and the engine light plus trac code came on after going through a large body of standing water and the tire(s) were spinning. After a couple stops/starts the engine light and trac went off by themselves but later on the engine light came on again.

Had it read at Auto Zone (can't do the key trick on the Chevy) and it came to be P0301 (miss in cylinder 1). Left there and went back to my son's house. Car running good at idle and full throttle so I thought it might be a one-off kind of thing. Remembered what I did with the PT and took off the negative cable, pressed the brake, put it all back together. Started it and ran around the block. Engine light was off and has stayed off even on the 800 mile trip back home to Florida. It DOES work.
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