Hi all, I thought I would relate a strange sequence of events that led to a problem being fixed.
Recently my check engine light went on, so I bought an OBD2 scanner and found it was a catalytic converter problem.
I went to three different places, which made hugely different diagnoses.
Toyota dealer. They charged me $80 to tell me what I already knew: Something was
wrong with the 1st catalytic converter. (I’m out of warranty at 130k miles).
Then they said it would cost up to $3000 to fix because there are two cats and
it’s quite possible the second one was bad, and suggested I go elsewhere. I later complained
and got $40 back.
I went to Midas. They charged me nothing to look at it, but estimated $1200
to replace the 1st cat. They said it definitely needed it, the 2nd probably did not,
and oh that’s to put in a generic cat, not the Toyota part. Another customer who was there
warned me though, a cat problem can be caused by lots of different factors.
I called my local shop and they asked an obvious question that neither
of the other two places did: Had I cleared the code? No, I had not, so I did.
After 500 miles the engine light did not come back on.
Finally I went to my local shop. They immediately pointed out the problem: The gasket
that held the oxygen sensor was rusted through, and the two bolts that held it in
place where entirely gone. He showed me the gasket. Air was getting in, leading to the cat code.
Note however that 8 months earlier the Toyota dealer had replaced that exact O2 sensor.
He fixed it and I’ve had no problems since. Total for that work, less than $50.
There are a few lessons learned here.
- Always on big ticket items, get a 2nd & 3rd opinion.
- Don’t be dazzled by brand names like Toyota when it comes to repairs.
- And of course if you find a good mechanic, stick with him (or her).