Missing catalytic converter on a certified pre-owned vehicle

volvo
catalytic-converters
c30

#1

Two weeks ago, I bought a Certified, Pre-Owned 2008 Volvo C30 with 28,000 miles on it from a reputable Volvo dealer. 130 point checklist, etc. Within 20 miles of leaving the selling dealership the Check Engine light came on. I called them to tell them and they were mystified. I couldn’t turn around since I had to be somewhere to pick up a child. And since I live far from the dealer where I bought the car, I went to a different Volvo dealer close to my work, where I had planned to start a service relationship, to get the problem diagnosed. Computer diagnosis: needs a new catalytic converter. I call the selling dealer to tell them - they are mystified, but fortunately it’s all covered under warranty. Service dealer orders the part, I arrive for the appointment yesterday; they put the car on the lift, and, surprise! There is NO CATALYTIC CONVERTER AT ALL ON THE CAR! Just a pipe. The service dealer can’t perform the service because there is no old catalytic converter to send back to Volvo under the warranty program. I call the selling dealer to ask them why they sold me a certified car but with no catalytic converter; they continue to say they are mystified. The car is now with the selling dealer and they are “calling me on Monday.” What happened here? Is a catalytic converter a part that is easy to miss upon inspection? I don’t know much about cars but the research I am doing indicates this is a pretty crucial part of an automobile and that it’s illegal to drive without one.


#2

Yes, it is illegal to drive without one and it is illegal to sell a 2008 car without one. The selling dealer is on the hook for this totally. Do not spend one thin dime since the dealership is in serious violation of federal and state law by selling this car without a catalytic converter.

Allow them to do the right thing, which hopefully they will have the sense to do. If not, then you can sic the EPA on them.


#3

Could this have been a European delivery car shipped to the US? If you take delivery of a MB, BMW, Audi in Germany they put on US certified cats prior to shipping to the US after you drive it in Europe.

Twotone


#4

Not a European delivery car. This car (as far as I know) was formerly leased to someone who drove it in Florida. My selling dealer bought it at an auction, however, which raised a red flag for me initially since it was an '08 with 28,000 miles on it. But I loved the car so much that I just went for it. There was also a title problem initially - no clear path from the leasing company to the auction house. I think what happened is the catalytic converter was stolen while it was leased (I’ve been researching this phenomenon of stolen catalytic converters) and the person who leased the car replaced the part with a pipe so he/she wouldn’t have to pay for the repair (Volvo warranty doesn’t cover parts that are stolen).


#5

Sounds like a Repo that has been stripped. They don’t lease cars for one year. The word “Certified” when applied to used cars means NOTHING as you have painfully discovered. I would demand a OEM converter, not a cheap aftermarket replacement…It is indeed against the law for a DEALER to sell a car with tampered emissions control systems…


#6

Sorry, I’m not a car person: what does OEM stand for? Thanks. And you are right about the odd timing on the supposed lease: I was told the car went on the road in January or February '08 which was only 1 1/2 years ago.


#7

Original Equipment. A FACTORY replacement part. The real estate collapse has devastated Florida economically. People are walking away from leased cars they can no longer afford. They get sold at auctions…


#8

Question to VDCdriver: In your view, what is the “right thing”? I’m concerned that if the catalytic converter was stolen and somehow sawed off, that just putting a new one on might lead to seal problems and engine problems later (I’m not a car person, so I’m sort of making this up as I go along). In your mind, would the Right Thing be to replace the ENTIRE exhaust system?


#9

Caddyman, thanks for clarifying; it’s very helpful.


#10

No, any competent mechanic can replace (or, in this case, add) a catalytic converter and have it operate properly. By “the right thing”, I implied that the dealership owes it to you to give you a car in the condition that it should have been in when it was sold to you.

And, “the right thing” also implies doing what they are legally required to do, namely either take back a car with altered/removed emissions equipment or fix it properly. In this case, simply cutting the pipe and installing an OEM Volvo catalytic converter is what you deserve. Be sure that you insist on the genuine OEM cat, not an aftermarket replacement.


#11

Whit no catalytic converter why was there not a continual “check engine” light to deal with through-out the time the car was on the Dealers lot?

The light should have come on during the mechanics test drive.

Is this a actual Certified Pre-Owned? (did you get documentation indicating that it is part of Volvo’s CPO program?)


#12

The check engine light was on when I test drove the car. They told me it would be taken care of when the mechanic checked it over. Yes, this is an actual Certified Pre-Owned and I have documentation.


#13

The mechanic took care of it alright. They just cleared the codes and hoped for the best…


#14

What I just don’t understand is how could they have missed the missing catalytic converter. And if they saw it and decided to ignore it, why? There is no way the car would have passed inspection in its current condition. Is is possible they cleared the codes and never even put it on a lift to actually look underneath?


#15

Of course it is possible that they just cleared the codes and never put it on a lift or did an emissions test. The so-called Certified Pre-Owned status is not necessarily worth much–as you found out.

Maybe they were just certifying that it was a pre-owned car.


#16

Notify Volvo about this and the Dealer could lose it’s ability to participate in Volvos Certified Pre-Owned program. Volvo promotes these cars to be a large step above normal used cars. Manufacture CPO is just that a manufactures program and a Dealer must apply to be allowed to participate.

No Dealer I have ever worked for with a CPO program would ever show a CPO car before it has been brought up to standards,this includes no current “check engine” lights,something is not adding up here

People that have never worked at a Dealer as a mechanic and have never preped a CPO car should refrain from comment as you don’t know what you are talking about.


#17

Then how do you explain, “The check engine light was on when I test drove the car. They told me it would be taken care of when the mechanic checked it over”?

Surely a real CPO prep should include an emissions test. As we all know, the lack of a cat converter would make it impossible for the car to pass an emissions test. And, other procedures may have been skipped also.

Clearly, someone at that dealership screwed up BIG TIME.
Am I permitted to say that?


#18

Poor management of the CPO program. CPO cars are not put on the lot for inspection and test drives by potential buyers until after they have been accepted into the CPO program.

I am not convinced this vehicle was a truly in the Volvo CPO program.

In any case the car could not have been sold at any level if it was missing a cat.

For all that read the post,walk away from any car that has a current “check engine” light on.

When a used car manager overviews a car as a potential CPO candidate and it has a “check engine” light on he instructs the service manager to give a report on this issue first before he agrees to any additional work.

When the report came back “missing cat” sales would know they would have to buy a OEM cat and would probably not bring this car into the program.

They could stick a aftermarket cat. on it and sell it as a “normal” used car.

Dealers don’t “sniff” cars anymore,its all through the OBD2 system.

We sold a BMW 850 V-12 that ran fine (no check engine light),buyer took it to get registered and the State of WI.did sniff the car,it failed and the “make it right” repairs were on the Dealer.It was a heated cat issue as the only way BMW could make them pass when cold was to electricaly heat the cats to shorten warm-up time.

You people that say there is no difference in a CPO car and a plain Jane used car just havent been there.We have been over this issue many times on this Forum.


#19

Yes, someone at the dealership screwed up big time, but I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that the CEL was on during the test drive, and he bought the car anyway. Who buys a used car (even a “certified” one) without getting it checked by a trustworthy mechanic first, let alone one with a CEL on during the test drive?

(HEAVY sigh!!)

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#20

I’m the buyer and I’m a “she” by the way. The reason I bought this car even though the CEL was on during my test drive is that I thought THESE people were the trustworthy mechanics. Read on to understand why I felt this way. My 85-year-old mother has been buying and servicing her cars (Toyotas) from these folks since the mid 1970s. They are lucky to have a customer like her who buys a brand new car with no negotiation at full sticker price every 4 years. She was very concerned that I was planning to buy a used car since she always buys new, so she called them and made sure I was going to be well taken care of. There was a lot of nice talk all the way around about what a valuable customer she is and how well they were taking care of me. She was assured that this 2008 C30 was an excellent choice and very safe car for me to drive. And yes, I believed the sales person when he looked me in the eye and told me the car would be delivered to me “as if it were a new car.” I am admittedly an inexperienced car buyer and this is my first used car purchase; my last vehicle was a new 1997 Honda Odyssey (bought from a connected dealership by the way) and when I traded it in while buying the Volvo, I had driven it over 160,000 miles. Because I take care of my cars, they last a long time, so I don’t have a lot of experience buying. Shame on me I guess for having faith in humanity and trust in a dealership which has had a relationship with my family that dates back over 30 years. Whitey, impressive graphic, BTW!