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Catalytic (cat) monitor not ready when smogging

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  • 1 Post By rasec8711

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Old 19 Jun 2018, 06:18 pm
Fresh Cruiser
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Chico, CA
Posts: 15
Default Catalytic (cat) monitor not ready when smogging

This issue was resolved and I wanted to share my experience on this to hopefully help somebody out.

I live in California, and apparently starting 2017, when you take your car for a smog, California no longer allows you to have two monitors that are not ready. Now they only allow you to have one monitor not ready, and that monitor has to be the evaporative system monitor (aka, they don't care if your gas cap is loose... I think).

Anyways, when the PT failed smog, I did a bunch of research and learned about drive cycles. Gosh, I wasted.... used about 2 tanks of gas (30 gallons!) going through drive cycles (got 2 check engine lights during the drive cycles, ended up replacing the camshaft sensor and the knock sensor while trying to get the cat monitor to clear, but that's not relevant to the story).

Anyways, the drive cycles didn't do it.

I kept doing some digging online and found a post that talked about replacing the oxygen sensor because sometimes if the oxygen sensors "don't quite work" (which means you don't get a check engine light, but they still just don't quite work), the cat monitor will not set.

So I did that, replaced the oxygen sensor downstream from the catalytic converter, then did a couple more drive cycles, but the problem persisted. The Cat monitor would not get to the ready state.

I had less than a week before my tags expired, so I paid the registration renewal in hopes that I would eventually find a solution. The pain of paying for the renewal and not knowing if I would actually be able to drive my car again, made me remember that I have a cousin that lives a few hours from me, that works at a Chrysler dealership.

I called my cousin and he asked me to bring it in, so I did. He did another drive cycle, confirmed that the cat monitor didn't get to the ready state. He then searched Chrysler's internal bulletin and discovered a bulletin about this being a known issue.... THIS WAS A KNOWN ISSUE! Boom, he updated the computer software (PCM), took it through another drive cycle, and voilá, the cat monitor was ready.

It didn't cost me a penny to get the computer software updated. I'm not sure if it's because he's my cousin, or because this has to be covered under warranty because of the emission laws. I do know that my hometown dealer wanted to charge me a $200 non-refundable diagnostic fee to look at this issue :S

I did end up paying my cousin/the dealer (I have a receipt from the dealer!) about $110 to do the smog. By this time it was one day past the tag expirations, so I was anxious to get my PT legally back on the road. If I had time I would've taken it to Pep Boys and paid them the $35 to do the smog.
Handy_Cruiser likes this.

2003 PT Cruiser Turbo - ~96,000 Miles
Bought it in March 2010 with 49K miles.
DIY Work: Put in a K&N Cold Air Intake Kit the year I bought it. Brakes, upper and lower engine mounts (struts) replaced. Knock sensor replaced. Camshaft position sensor replaced.
Mechanic work: Replaced the timing belt at 90K miles. Replaced the engine at 95K miles (stripped spark plug hole, even the heli coil stripped after a week).

Last edited by rasec8711; 19 Jun 2018 at 07:20 pm.
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Old 19 Jun 2018, 06:43 pm
Handy_Cruiser's Avatar
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Join Date: Oct 2013
Location: Arkansas
Posts: 10,551
Default Re: Catalytic (cat) monitor not ready when smogging

I've got a Smog Reference Library on my Google Drive. You can download it here:

The bulletin you may want for the 2003 GT 5-speed is on page 56 and the warranty info is on 58.

And for posterity, here's the bulletin in low-res images:





Last edited by Handy_Cruiser; 19 Jun 2018 at 06:58 pm.
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cat, catalytic converter, monitor, monitors, smog

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