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P0420 is a diagnostic trouble code (DTC) for "Catalyst System Efficiency Below Threshold (Bank 1)". This can happen for multiple reasons and a mechanic needs to diagnose the specific cause for this code to be triggered in your situation. Our certified mobile mechanics can come to your home or office to perform the Check Engine Light diagnostic for $70.00. Once we are able to diagnose the problem, you will be provided with an upfront quote for the recommended fix and receive $30.00 off as a credit towards the repair. All our repairs are backed by our 12-month / 12,000-mile warranty.
Catalyst System Efficiency Below Threshold (Bank 1)
The purpose of the catalytic converter is to break down harmful pollutants that are created during the combustion cycle. By using fine platinum and gold meshes to filter exhaust fumes, the catalytic converter is able to reduce the emissions expelled from the exhaust pipe.
The catalytic converter has two oxygen sensors. One oxygen sensor is positioned in front (upstream) of the catalytic converter and the other oxygen sensor is positioned at the rear (downstream).
If the upstream oxygen sensor is working properly, its readings should fluctuate from when the car is at operating temperature and when running in a closed loop. If the downstream oxygen sensor is working properly, and there isn't an issue with the catalytic converter, its readings should remain steady.
When the oxygen sensors have readings that are similar to each other, it is an indication that the catalytic converter is not working as intended. If the voltage of the downstream oxygen sensor decreases, and begins to fluctuate like the upstream oxygen sensor, it means that the oxygen levels are too high and the Powertrain Control Module (PCM) will store the P0420 trouble code.
Uses an OBD-II scanner to retrieve trouble codes stored by the PCM.
Views the live data of the downstream (rear) oxygen sensor. The downstream oxygen sensor voltage reading should be steady. Make a determination as to whether the downstream (rear) oxygen sensor is working properly.
Diagnoses any other codes that could be causing the P0420 trouble code.
Repairs misfires, ignition problems, and/or fuel system problems if necessary
Inspects the rear oxygen sensor for damage and/or excessive wear
Test drives the vehicle while viewing the freeze frame data to determine whether or not the downstream (rear) oxygen sensor is working properly.
Checks for available updates of the PCM if the catalytic converter is faulty. After the catalytic converter is replaced, updates to the PCM will be required.
The most common mistake is replacing the oxygen sensors before completing the diagnostic process. If another component is causing the P0420 trouble code, replacing the oxygen sensors will not fix the problem.
It is common for a driver to experience no driveability problems when the P0420 trouble code is present. Other than the Check Engine Light being on, the symptoms of this trouble code may go unnoticed. However, if the vehicle is left in error without addressing the problem, serious damage could be caused to other components.
Because there are no driveability issue symptoms associated with the P0420 trouble code, it is not considered serious or dangerous to the driver. However, if the code is not addressed in a timely manner, the catalytic converter could be seriously damaged. Because the catalytic converter is expensive to repair, it is vital that the P0420 trouble code is diagnosed and repaired as soon as possible.
Problems with the ignition system, fuel system, air intake, and misfires can damage a catalytic converter if they are not addressed quickly. These components are most the common cause of the P0420 trouble code. When replacing a catalytic converter, is it a good idea to replace it with an OEM unit or an oxygen sensor replacement that is of high quality.
It is common for aftermarket oxygen sensors to fail, and when they do, the P0420 trouble code may return again. It is also a good idea to contact the manufacturer to see if your vehicle has a manufacturer warranty on parts that are related to emissions.
YourMechanic offers certified mechanics who will come to your home or office to diagnose and repair your vehicle. Get a quote and book an appointment online or speak to a service advisor at 1-800-701-6230.