Catalytic converters

I have a question about the catalytic converter on a 2002 toyota camry with 83,000 miles. I got a diagnostic done that was a p0420 which gave me these options.

1. catalytic converter defective (failure possibly due to #2,#3,#4)

2. engine misfire or running condition

3. Large vacuum leak

4. engine oil leakage into exhaust-valve guide seals, piston rings.

Ok when I took it to the mechanic he said he would first replace the catalytic converter. It would be $100 more if it didn’t take a universal one. So he quoted me $350 plus the $100. Once he looked it up, it was $750(toyota converter) and just to replace it it was going to be $936 (something about it being connected to the manifold).

Ok my question is does this sound right to anybody? Shouldn’t he first check 2,3,4 before replacing the converter. He told me 9 out of 10 times the converter will have to be replaced.

Also does anyone know anything about selling cars to carmax.

I want to sell my car to them, but don’t know if it’s worth it to repair first and then sell it to them or go ahead and sell it to them?

Help please I don’t have an extra $1,000. Thanks in advance

Before you make any repairs to your emissions systems, know that certain components, even the cat, are covered by an 8-year, 80,000-mile federal warranty. It is possible that Toyota owes you a free catalytic converter. Discuss this issue with your Toyota service manager before proceeding.

really! Do you know if I would have to take it to the same dealer I bought it from? I bought the used car in NY and now live in Atlanta.

I also found the same converter brand new on the internet for $198. From this site

I’m now thinking Meineke is trying to rip me off.

Also I forgot to say that the mechanic said my car could possibly stop working at anytime. That it wouldn’t have any power and won’t run. Is this true?

I just noticed you mentioned your car has 83,000 miles. Maybe your luck has run out in terms of the warranty. You may have to pay up. Check anyway.

Meineke isn’t picking on just you. They play this way with all customers. Yes, if you really need a new cat, get the one you found online. But first, find a mechanic willing to install it for you. Not all mechanics will agree to do so. And if you find one, mention checking first for items 2, 3, and 4.

As for selling your car, no serious buyer should consider buying a car with the check engine light lit up.

When was the last time the plugs and plug wires were replaced? That’s probably the cheapest thing to do. Next would be fixing a vacuum leak, then the catalytic converter, and finally rebuilding the engine. I’d replace the plugs first, clear the code, and then see if it runs without faultering. The plug wires aren’t too expensive and you might want to replace them at the same time. You could do this yourself if you want to.

If you’re getting oil into the cylinder combustion chambers from defective valve seals and piston rings, then you have a major problem.

Why spend money on converters, O2 sensors, etc. just to turn right around and have oil consumption kill them again?

Some more info would help.
Buy the car new?
Any known overheating?
Any oil consumption problems?
Has a compression test been performed?

Since there is no way this car should have a ring problem at 83k miles, there has to be something in the vehicle’s past if the ring problem is legitimate.

ok. That doesn’t sound difficult and am wondering why the meineke guy didn’t suggest doing that first. I will have to find out how to switch out the plugs though. Any suggestions?

I’m not even sure if he checked to see if there was a problem with the valve seals and piston rings.
This site is awesome because everyone is saying is this checked or was that tested and the mechanic was like lets replace the converter and then check everything. I just knew something was wrong with proceeding that way.

Buy the car new? No I bought it used about 2 1/2 - 3 years ago.

Any known overheating? It has never overheated since I’ve had it and I’m not aware of any problem since I brought it from the dealer.

Any oil consumption problems? I get the oil change every 3 to 4K miles I don’t think it leaks anywhere…if that’s what you mean

Has a compression test been performed? ok I’m not sure what that test is, should I have that done before I deal with the converter issue?

Since there is no way this car should have a ring problem at 83k miles, there has to be something in the vehicle’s past if the ring problem is legitimate.Ok good advice. Since it was a list of things, I believe they were just saying what it could be.

Thanks Steve great advice.
Yeah I called my dealer so we’ll see on Monday about the warranty.
I figured finding a mechanic to install the part might be difficult especially since I’m new to the area. So I started calling around to the different technical automotive colleges telling them I have catalytic converter to install. So hopefully I’ll hear from someone on Monday. Since I’m going to sell it, it doesn’t have to be done professionally and I figured as long as the school is accredited it should be ok. Plus I graduated from an occupational center some years back and the automotive centers worked on customer cars all the time - teacher supervised.

Well, it sounds like there was some theorizing about possibilities rather than an actual diagnosis of a major problem.

If the car has been suffering a chronic misfire, especially if this has been going on for a while, the converter can be damaged.

To take the vacuum leak first. A large vacuum leak means you have a car that will not idle at all or have an extremely rough idle. A vacuum leak can also cause multiple misfires. A vacuum leak is also something that is easily checked.

Another cause of a misfire could be spark plugs, coils, etc.
Curious about something. Is it known if the car has the original spark plugs in it? If so, that would be the first thing I would look at.
The recommendation of leaving spark plugs in an engine for a 100k miles is routinely done, but that is something I personally would never on earth agree with.

Keep in mind that misfiring plugs can kill plug wires, coils, ignition modules, and even the converter.

4-cylinder: There will be 4 wires that lead to the side of the engine (probably the side facing you); all terminate in a row from left to right and are evenly spaced. The plugs are underneath the caps. You will need a ratchet wrench, a short extension, and a spark plug socket. Turn left to loosen and right to tighten. Do not over-tighten the plugs. You may have a friend with the proper tools. Otherwise, you can buy them at Sears.

6-cylinder: Same as above, except that there are 3 wires on front and 3 wires on back. You might need a universl joint for at least one back plug. The univeral fits between the ratchet and the extension, or between the extension and the socket. Do whatever works if you need it.

The 02 4 cyl. has coil packs at each plug . Remove the black cover on valve cover to access coil packs, each pack is held by a 10mm bolt remove this and gently twist while pulling straight up to access plug.