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Possible Clogged Catalytic Converter

 
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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 05 Apr 2018, 02:37 pm
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Default Possible Clogged Catalytic Converter

I own a 2007 PT Cruiser with 153,000 miles on it. Two years ago, the timing belt broke and I had to spend a few thousand to have the belt replaced. Within the last year, the engine has been riding rough, so I replaced my plugs and wires about 6 months ago. The car began to drive a bit better, but still didn't seem 100%

My check engine light had been illuminated for some time, but I didn't know much about auto repair at that time. After spending a fortune having my timing belt replaced, I'd decided to attempt future repairs and diagnoses myself. I learned how to key dance, but purchased a code reader just in case. My check engine light was prompted by a code P0420 -- Catalyst System Efficiency Below Threshold

I thought this may have just been a sensor issue, and wasn't overly concerned since the car seemed to drive moderately well. As time went on, I began to lose acceleration power, however. The engine seemed to rev fine, but idled rough and acceleration was poor. I'd recently lost a job and had to move, so time and money weren't on my side. My wife and I packed up and moved 150 mi east -- the car made it, but I drove the U-Haul slow so the wife could keep up in the Cruiser.

Within the last few months, engine power has continued to decline. After doing some research, I discovered that the recent spark plugs I had chosen to install in my car were a poor choice -- Champion. I replaced them, very recently, with 4 Bosch plugs. Idling was much smoother, but acceleration was only marginally improved. Within the last week, a new symptom reared its head -- the engine began to overheat after being on the road for less than 5 minutes.

I was recently hired for a security guard position at the local beach which is a 45 minute drive, but am still waiting for summer contracts to come in, so I still don't have a start date. I don't have the money to replace the cat and am unsure if my car will even make the drive to and from work. Do you guys think my cat is clogged and that the hot exhaust is now causing my engine to overheat? I read so many conflicting diagnoses online, so I'm hoping that posting here will help me to come to a conclusion and possible solution.

If my cat is clogged, is there a temporary solution? Is it possible to snake the exhaust to clear a clog? Would the removal of one or both O2 sensors buy me some time by relieving pressure on the exhaust system? Thanks for your time!
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Old 05 Apr 2018, 03:17 pm
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Default Re: Possible Clogged Catalytic Converter

I forgot to mention, I checked the voltages on my O2 sensors to see how quickly they were switching, and the second one was switching just as randomly as the first, so it seems the cat may not be doing its job. I purchased an infrared thermometer, as well, but the readings I was getting before and after the cat weren't consistent each time I shot a beam, so that test was inconclusive.

I haven't noticed a rotten egg smell, but I understand that symptom is not always present for all cat issues. I know it's possible to diagnose certain problems by looking at the color and wear on spark plugs. I photographed the 6-month old Champion plugs I recently pulled from the engine. If anyone would like to see those photos, I can upload them. Thanks again!
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Old 05 Apr 2018, 03:21 pm
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Default Re: Possible Clogged Catalytic Converter

You problem is not spark plug related and your choice of Champions was not any issue. The CAT if plug you would have more engine power related problem (not ruling it out) The over heating is another indication that you have more problems then a CAT?

Time to start with basics.
PT problems read this FIRST



Although mostly for adding parts it still has good information.

Adding Perfromance PT CRUISER parts
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Old 05 Apr 2018, 03:28 pm
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Default Re: Possible Clogged Catalytic Converter

Thanks for the insight! I'll read over your suggested links.
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Old 05 Apr 2018, 03:54 pm
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Default Re: Possible Clogged Catalytic Converter

I am suggesting you might have two separate issues and I would focus on the overheating issue first.

Most overheating issues on the Pt Cruiser is caused by the radiator fan failing in one or both speeds. With the engine cold, start the engine, and turn on the A/C. Your radiator fan should come on almost immediately.

If your radiator fan is working properly are you loosing coolant. If you are you need to have a engine coolant pressure test done to find out where the coolant is leaking.

What state are you located in?
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Old 05 Apr 2018, 07:13 pm
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Default Re: Possible Clogged Catalytic Converter

I'm located in Maryland, east of the Chesapeake Bay.

I believe I've found my overheating issue, and I can't believe it. I checked all of my fluids on March 19th, when I swapped my spark plugs, and everything was in order. I checked my coolant today to ensure proper levels, and decided to check my oil levels too. Oil was bone dry...

I filled my oil reservoir and the overheating issue seems to have been remedied. Now, I'm wondering if I have an oil leak or perhaps it all burned up somehow.
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Old 05 Apr 2018, 11:06 pm
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Default Re: Possible Clogged Catalytic Converter

Quote:
Originally Posted by Herr_Nomer View Post
I'm located in Maryland, east of the Chesapeake Bay.

I believe I've found my overheating issue, and I can't believe it. I checked all of my fluids on March 19th, when I swapped my spark plugs, and everything was in order. I checked my coolant today to ensure proper levels, and decided to check my oil levels too. Oil was bone dry...

I filled my oil reservoir and the overheating issue seems to have been remedied. Now, I'm wondering if I have an oil leak or perhaps it all burned up somehow.
If you are burning excessive engine oil it can clog up your CAT. If you find your CAT is clogged you might want to repair what is causing your excessive oil burning before replacing the CAT.
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Old 06 Apr 2018, 03:21 pm
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Default Re: Possible Clogged Catalytic Converter

Quote:
Originally Posted by ptcruisersteve View Post
Most overheating issues on the Pt Cruiser is caused by the radiator fan failing in one or both speeds. With the engine cold, start the engine, and turn on the A/C. Your radiator fan should come on almost immediately.
Well, my wife took the car out early this morning, and the car began to overheat again. I employed the method quoted above, turning the A/C on high, and found that my radiator fan is not engaging. I'm assuming this is either an issue with the related fuse or the fan motor, itself -- I'm hoping for the former. I'll perform a fuse check shortly and update with my findings.
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Old 06 Apr 2018, 03:49 pm
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Default Re: Possible Clogged Catalytic Converter

Quote:
Originally Posted by Herr_Nomer View Post
Well, my wife took the car out early this morning, and the car began to overheat again. I employed the method quoted above, turning the A/C on high, and found that my radiator fan is not engaging. I'm assuming this is either an issue with the related fuse or the fan motor, itself -- I'm hoping for the former. I'll perform a fuse check shortly and update with my findings.
I would suggest you disconnect the radiator fan plug and apply 12 volts to it from the batterry. 90 percent of the time the radiator fan is bad.
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Old 06 Apr 2018, 04:27 pm
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Default Re: Possible Clogged Catalytic Converter

Quote:
Originally Posted by ptcruisersteve View Post
I would suggest you disconnect the radiator fan plug and apply 12 volts to it from the batterry. 90 percent of the time the radiator fan is bad.
Thanks for the tip! I've never bypassed the fuse box in such a way before. How would you recommend I do this? With a piece of ground wire to reroute the electrical flow?
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