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Old 05-05-2016, 07:51 AM   #1
waiter21
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2003 VUE 2.2L
Default P0420 - Catalyst System Efficiency Below Threshold (Bank 1)

I've been driving the Rescued Vue Thats what my wife calls it, kind of like rescue dogs, but this is a rescue car

The Vue has been running well with no problems since I got the P0171 and P0106 resolved. The upstream O2 sensor was replaced several weeks ago when I replaced the cracked exhaust manifold (part of P0171 issue). The only code I've seen in the past couple weeks is P0420. This pops up occasionally, and also clears itself occasionally (good sign).

When I looked at the downstream O2 sensor with the scan tool, it appeared to be reading correctly, but was kind of spiky/noisy.

I decided to replace the downstream O2 sensor, and if this didn't take care of the P0420, I'd bite the bullet and replace the catalytic converter.

I've seen this code on other cars I've owned, and knew that sometimes, everything is OK, but it could fail the test because of things like a noisy O2 sensor, or computer firmware that doesn't give the O2 sensor enough time to respond, etc.

One fairly inexpensive way to filter the O2 sensor is to move it out of the main flow of exhaust stream. It still reads the exhaust, but the reading is now muffled and filtered a little. This can be done by using two Spark Plug de-foulers. Notice the bottom hole in one of the de-foulers is drilled out to a larger size so the O2 sensor will fit into it, This is then screwed into the other de-fouler, and then this is screwed into the O2 sensor port on the pipe.

REPLACING THE O2 SENSOR

URG - Removing old O2 sensors can be very problematic. My original plan was to re-use the original O2 sensor with the de-foulers to see if this resolved it, but I had to destroy the O2 sensor to get it out.

I attempted to remove the sensor with a heavy duty O2 sensor socket, but this rounded off the base of the sensor. The next try was the impact driver. I broke off the sensor from the base ( a wack with a wrench will bust off the sensor), I then used a standard 22mm socket on the impact driver, and off she came.

I assembled my de-foulers and a new O2 sensor, using a small amount of anti-sieze on the threads. Everything went back together, I purposely did not clear the existing P0420 code. I went for a short drive with plenty of stops (car idling) . After about 20 minutes, the SES light turned itself OFF, That was almost a week ago, and haven't seen any code set since then.


WHAT CURED THE P0420 PROBLEM?

I suspect that the new downstream O2 sensor solved the problem, but I decided to leave the de-foulers on anyway.

..
Attached Images
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File Type: jpg P0420_2_800.jpg (73.4 KB, 83 views)
File Type: jpg P0420_3_800.jpg (65.4 KB, 77 views)

...
2003 Vue - 2.2L with Manual Trans. (Swapped)
Originally had 2.2L and Auto trans.

Last edited by waiter21; 05-05-2016 at 08:01 AM..

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Old 05-09-2016, 12:01 PM   #2
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2003 VUE 2.2L
Default Re: P0420 - Catalyst System Efficiency Below Threshold (Bank 1)

IMPORTANT NOTE - DO NOT use the de-foulers on the upstream O2 sensor - The Upstream sensor controls fuel air mixture real time, You could get mixture rich, mixture lean, and even damage the cat converter if you're getting faulty, delayed information from the upstream O2 sensor.

The downstream O2 sensor is there for cat converter test purposes only, it doesn't control anything.

After certain criteria is set, i.e. speed, engine RPM, gas pedal position, coolant temp, etc, the ECM will start the Cat Converter test. It does this by making a small change to the fuel air mixture, then seeing how the down stream O2 sensor responds.

...
2003 Vue - 2.2L with Manual Trans. (Swapped)
Originally had 2.2L and Auto trans.

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Old 08-17-2016, 03:03 PM   #3
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2003 VUE 2.2L
Default Re: P0420 - Catalyst System Efficiency Below Threshold (Bank 1)

UPDATE - Its been over 3 months a a couple thousand miles. P0420 never came on again...

...
2003 Vue - 2.2L with Manual Trans. (Swapped)
Originally had 2.2L and Auto trans.

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Old 10-12-2016, 01:14 AM   #4
banchara
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2004 VUE 2.2L
Thumbs Up Re: P0420 - Catalyst System Efficiency Below Threshold (Bank 1)

Wow! Thank you! I have had this since....2008!

Will this fix make my truck run more lean? Because it smells rich (exhaust smells and some soot in the tail pipe). And I'm pretty sure my rings are bad because I go through some oil, but don't have any puddles, drips, or leaks.

It's nice to see a post on the fix for P0420.

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Old 11-04-2016, 04:15 PM   #5
waiter21
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2003 VUE 2.2L
Default Re: P0420 - Catalyst System Efficiency Below Threshold (Bank 1)

As I mentioned, the downstream doesn't control anything. Its there to test the cat converter only.

If you are running rich and have soot, you need to deal with that. The rich mixture will destroy your cat converter.

...
2003 Vue - 2.2L with Manual Trans. (Swapped)
Originally had 2.2L and Auto trans.

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Old 11-21-2016, 11:18 AM   #6
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Default Re: P0420 - Catalyst System Efficiency Below Threshold (Bank 1)

Would this fix work on a P0410 as well?

...
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Old 12-15-2016, 09:31 AM   #7
waiter21
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2003 VUE 2.2L
Default Re: P0420 - Catalyst System Efficiency Below Threshold (Bank 1)

Quote:
Would this fix work on a P0410 as well?
P0410 - No. My Vue doesn't have an aux air pump. Google the Saturn p0410 and there are a lot of suggestions for dealing with the 410. (clogged or plugged aux air ports.

FYI - Its now Mid Dec, we put about 5k miles on the Vue and the P0400 code has never come back.

...
2003 Vue - 2.2L with Manual Trans. (Swapped)
Originally had 2.2L and Auto trans.

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Old 10-21-2019, 10:17 PM   #8
Bruce Rock
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Default Re: P0420 - Catalyst System Efficiency Below Threshold (Bank 1)

Quote:
Originally Posted by waiter21 View Post

One fairly inexpensive way to filter the O2 sensor is to move it out of the main flow of exhaust stream. It still reads the exhaust, but the reading is now muffled and filtered a little. This can be done by using two Spark Plug de-foulers. Notice the bottom hole in one of the de-foulers is drilled out to a larger size so the O2 sensor will fit into it, This is then screwed into the other de-fouler, and then this is screwed into the O2 sensor port on the pipe.

REPLACING THE O2 SENSOR

URG - Removing old O2 sensors can be very problematic. My original plan was to re-use the original O2 sensor with the de-foulers to see if this resolved it, but I had to destroy the O2 sensor to get it out.

I attempted to remove the sensor with a heavy duty O2 sensor socket, but this rounded off the base of the sensor. The next try was the impact driver. I broke off the sensor from the base ( a wack with a wrench will bust off the sensor), I then used a standard 22mm socket on the impact driver, and off she came.

I assembled my de-foulers and a new O2 sensor, using a small amount of anti-seize on the threads. Everything went back together, I purposely did not clear the existing P0420 code. I went for a short drive with plenty of stops (car idling) . After about 20 minutes, the SES light turned itself OFF, That was almost a week ago, and haven't seen any code set since then.


WHAT CURED THE P0420 PROBLEM?

I suspect that the new downstream O2 sensor solved the problem, but I decided to leave the de-foulers on anyway.

..
I did this years ago with one de-fouler. Came back to bite me last week. De-fouler broke off leaving the hex with the sensor and just the tube part sticking out of the bung. Had to use a cutting torch to get it out and than a modified thread chaser to renew the threads. I put an old sensor in the bung to keep it quiet while I wait to order a new sensor.

Yes, I had put never seize on the threads.

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