Honda Civic needs catalytic converter at less than 80,000 miles



I have a 2001 2-door Honda Civic that I bought used last year. It has 77,000 miles. Last summer it needed new spark plugs. For the last 2 months my check engine light is periodically on. I had diagnostics run and they said I need a new catalytic converter. This week I failed my emissions test. It seems like the car shouldn’t be having these issues at less than 80,000 miles. Is it typical for these or did I pick a l lemon?


If / when it blinks off again, drive in and get another test while the light is off…It should pass then…Before you buy a converter, replace BOTH oxygen sensors…THEY are what is making the light come on, not the converter…

Honda’s reputation for reliability and low maintenance costs FAR exceeds the reality of the situation…pretty quick, you are looking at a timing belt / water pump job…Ka-Ching…


Who read the error codes and told you that you needed a catalytic converter? You might take the car to Autozone and get the code(s) read again for free, and post the code(s) here (not the diagnosis). Sometimes it is the catalytic converter, but sometimes it is something else, like an Oxygen sensor, but nobody can know for sure based on the information you have given so far.

Did you replace the original spark plugs last summer? Did you also replace the spark plug wires at the same time? If not, that is where I would start.

If your catalytic converter needs to be replaced, the “check engine” light (CEL) isn’t going to go away on its own.

Check with Honda quickly. I think they have a warranty on emissions equipment that lasts for 80,000 miles. That emissions equipment warranty might last even longer, but you should check ASAP to make sure it doesn’t expire on you (if it hasn’t happened already).

Unfortunately, since you bought this car used, you have no way of knowing how it was treated by its previous owner. If you knew the history better, I would agree that the catalytic converter should last longer, but we just don’t know.

Chances are, the pre-catalytic converter Oxygen sensor is fused to the catalytic converter, so if you replace the cat, you will probably need to replace it. However, the Oxygen sensors are so expensive, I wouldn’t replace the post-catalytic converter Oxygen sensor unless the CEL stays on after you replace the cat.


Before you buy a converter, replace BOTH oxygen sensors…THEY are what is making the light come on, not the converter…

How can you possibly know that?


You bought a used car and odds are that any problems that exist may be due to lack of maintenance, which does not make it a Lemon.

If you’re even slightly upset about a set of spark plugs then should I ask about the timing belt/water pump/tensioners that should be replaced right now if it is not known for an etched in granite fact that it has been done in recent memory?


The efficiency of the converter is measured by the oxygen sensors…How can you possibly NOT know that??


Your oxygen sensors cast $50-$60 bucks each, a FRACTION of the price of the converter…

Speaking of converters, you can have a muffler shop install one for $150-$200 or take it to a Honda Dealer and pay $500 and up…


There’s a federal warranty limit of 8 years or 80,000 miles on all vehicles. If you ask politely, you may get a good will discount


If we knew why the spark plugs were changed, and what their condition was, we could have an idea of what is causing the check engine light to come on now. If an engine is burning oil or antifreeze, evidence of that will show on the spark plugs, and oxygen sensors.
Burning oil, or antifreeze, in the engine, can cause poisoning to the catalytic converter and to the oxygen sensors. But, we don’t know if that is the case until the spark plugs and oxygen sensors are examined.
If the engine is burning oil or antifreeze, that will need to be fixed. Changing the oxygen sensors might turn the check engine light off, for a while. It’s a gamble.
You could get the codes for the check engine light read at the chain auto parts stores, for free. Then, you could bring those codes here (ex. P0420) for advice.


I do know that. It could be the cat and it could be the sensors. What I am wondering is how you know which one is bad without even seeing the car.


The OEM Oxygen sensors for a Civic cost more like $200-250 each, and I am not sure I would want to go with aftermarket sensors. The only aftermarket sensors available are “universal” and would have to be spliced to the old plugs, if they even have the right amount of wires.

I think the OP should find out which item is bad (sensors vs. cat) before she starts throwing money at the problem.


Auto Zone shows OE (original equipment type) oxygen sensor for $60 for front or rear of the catalytic converter. They are Bosch brand which are as good as any.

[The catalytic converter is listed at $463.]


I know that the chances of getting a good will discount is very slim if you are not the original owner, but its worth a phone call.

Maybe there is is a problem with cat, and Honda has extended the warranty. Again I wouldn’t get my hopes up, but worth a try.


A 2001 with less than 80,000 miles ==== Should that not be covered under warranty?

BTW having two cylinders not firing due to bad plugs could damage a converter.


Somehow he knows without seeing the car, knowing the error codes, or reading the signals from the O2 sensors. All the things us mere mortals should know to make a proper diagnosis.


it’s also up to 8 years, so the OP is out of warranty by a year, which is why I stated they may get a good will discount if they asked nicely


Again, you are preaching to the choir…JulieK, the OP, has never returned…


Wow, that’s great deal better than the last time I shopped for Honda Civic Oxygen sensors…and the catalytic converter! That’s great news for the OP.


Isn’t that always the case? :stuck_out_tongue: