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Old 12-11-2017, 12:51 PM   #1
cjhsa
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2007 VUE 3.5L
Default P04020

It's been cold, car wasn't started for several days. Could it be that the O2 sensor was not warm enough to work correctly? How may O2 sensors are there?
Autozone says they can no longer reset the CEL - good grief. Now I have to go find a mechanic to do it so I can see if it happens again under regular driving conditions.

...
2007 VUE AWD V6 3.5L

Last edited by cjhsa; 12-11-2017 at 12:57 PM..

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Old 12-11-2017, 02:22 PM   #2
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2003 L-Series 3.0L Sedan
Default Re: P04020

Michigan AutoZone's aren't allowed to reset the cel? Ask why.

Resetting the cel doesn't require a reader. There are several ways for resetting.

1-Reader reset
2-ECM fuse removal/replacement
3-Battery negative cable disconnect/reconnect

A V6 will have at least two O2 sensors, one on each exhaust manifold. Two more, one after each catcon if yours have two catcons. Four altogether. Most O2 sensors have a heater to accelerate sensor operation no matter what outside temperatures are. The exhaust in combination with electric heating gets sensors up to operating temperatures, >600F, in about a minute or so.

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Old 12-12-2017, 08:59 AM   #3
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Default Re: P04020

Thanks I will disconnect the neg bat terminal.

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Old 12-12-2017, 03:07 PM   #4
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Default Re: P04020

There are several inexpensive Bluetooth capable code readers that will not only reset your CEL, but will also read your O2 sensors in real time. They will read a lot of stuff. Paid 24 bucks for mine and it works like a champ. I think it's a BAFX scanner and I use the Torque android software to read it. Have to get the paid version of Torque to do a code reset, but it's only a few bucks.

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Old 12-15-2017, 07:30 AM   #5
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Default Re: P04020

Quote:
Originally Posted by tcndeb View Post
There are several inexpensive Bluetooth capable code readers that will not only reset your CEL, but will also read your O2 sensors in real time. They will read a lot of stuff. Paid 24 bucks for mine and it works like a champ. I think it's a BAFX scanner and I use the Torque android software to read it. Have to get the paid version of Torque to do a code reset, but it's only a few bucks.
So, how would I know which of the O2 sensors is bad based on the data? I haven't had the light come back on, but my mileage has gone down a bit.

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Old 12-18-2017, 11:58 AM   #6
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Default Re: P04020

Quote:
Originally Posted by cjhsa View Post
So, how would I know which of the O2 sensors is bad based on the data? I haven't had the light come back on, but my mileage has gone down a bit.
It's been a few years since I had an issue with mine, but there's plenty of data online about reading O2 information. I know the numbers flip rapidly from a low to a high number. Or maybe it was from a positive to negative number. But one of mine was reading steady with no fluctuation in the reading, which meant bad sensor. Changed it out and corrected the issue for me.

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Old 12-21-2017, 01:41 PM   #7
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Default Re: P04020

So a steady, normal type of reading is really the wrong thing to expect from an O2 sensor? That figures...

From what I can tell my mileage has dropped about 15%. The CEL is still off.

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Old 12-23-2017, 05:12 PM   #8
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Default Re: P04020

1-P0420 is an error pointing to low catcon efficiency.

P0420 points to bank-1, cylinders 1, 3, 5 - the rear ones next to the firewall. Bank-2 cylinders 2, 4, 6 are in the front near the radiator. If you had P0430, this would point to the front catcon.

2-All four of your O2 sensors heat up to get them to operating temps quicker for faster and better emissions control. If the heaters failed, you'd get a different error code. It does not matter how long a vehicle is left parked, inside a garage or outdoors. Vehicles are normally not sensitive to weather unless drowned in a flood. The P0420 code points to possible catcon failure because catcons last only so long and fail without rhyme or reason. The same for O2 sensors. While manufacturers recommend periodic replacement of O2 sensors at recommended mileage like 50k, 75k or more, most of us tend to replace them when they fail and they fail at any time after a new car warranty expires or last forever. Personally, I've had two O2 sensors fail in the same year. Both sensors were fine - the heaters failed and generated error codes. NYS would fail emissions if I appeared with these error codes. I replaced them and error codes went away. At the time of each failure the mileage was around 75k.

3-With two or three catalytic converters (one after each cylinder bank and maybe a third downstream of both pre-converters), the precats can fail at any time with an error code from the downstream O2 sensors, P0420 or P0430. Some catcons rattle as the porous ceramic substrates disintegrate internally while others begin to block off exhaust flow creating the motoring equivalent of engine constipation. Blocking exhaust flow can create mystery problems.

4-Lambda/O2 sensors don't fluctuate signals as older ones did. They were first used in tuners trying to monitor their O2 sensors in turbocharged engines and described as wide band sensors. Your O2 sensors are wide band ones for more refined emissions control. The rear, downstream of catcons, sensors simply output a steady signal since they're measuring the catcon output to monitor catcon efficiency.

A partial reprint from http://www.aa1car.com/library/o2sensor.htm library;

A downstream oxygen sensor in or behind the catalytic converter works exactly the same as an upstream O2 sensor in the exhaust manifold. The sensor produces a voltage that changes when the amount of unburned oxygen in the exhaust changes. If the O2 sensor is a traditional zirconia type sensor, the voltage output drops to about 0.2 volts when the fuel mixture is lean (more oxygen in the exhaust). When the fuel mixture is rich (less oxygen in the exhaust), the sensor's output jumps up to a high of about 0.9 volts. The high or low voltage signal tells the PCM the fuel mixture is rich or lean.

On some newer vehicles, a new type of Wide Ratio Air Fuel (WRAF) Sensor is used. Instead of producing a high or low voltage signal, the signal changes in direct proportion to the amount of oxygen in the exhaust. This provides a more precise measurement for better fuel control. These sensors are also called wideband oxygen sensors because they can read very lean air/fuel mixtures.

The OBD II system monitors converter efficiency by comparing the upstream and downstream oxygen sensor signals. If the converter is doing its job and is reducing the pollutants in the exhaust, the downstream oxygen sensor should show little activity (few lean-to-rich transitions, which are also called "crosscounts"). The sensor's voltage reading should also be fairly steady (not changing up or down), and average 0.45 volts or higher.

If the signal from the downstream oxygen sensor starts to mirror that from the upstream oxygen sensor(s), it means converter efficiency has dropped off and the converter isn't cleaning up the pollutants in the exhaust. The threshold for setting a diagnostic trouble code (DTC) and turning on the Malfunction Indicator Lamp (MIL) is when emissions are estimated to exceed federal limits by 1.5 times. See Troubleshooting a P0420 Catalyst Code for more info about converter problems.

If converter efficiency had declined to the point where the vehicle may be exceeding the pollution limit, the PCM will turn on the Malfunction Indicator Lamp (MIL) and set a diagnostic trouble code. At that point, additional diagnosis may be needed to confirm the failing converter. If the upstream and downstream O2 sensors are functioning properly and show a drop off in converter efficiency, the converter must be replaced to restore emissions compliance. The vehicle will not pass an OBD II emissions test if there are any converter codes in the PCM.

What's the difference between a "heated" and "unheated" oxygen sensor?

Heated oxygen sensors have an internal heater circuit that brings the sensor up to operating temperature more quickly than an unheated sensor. An oxygen sensor must be hot (about 600 to 650 degrees F) before it will generate a voltage signal. The hot exhaust from the engine will provide enough heat to bring an O2 sensor up to operating temperature, but it make take several minutes depending on ambient temperature, engine load and speed. During this time, the fuel feedback control system remains in "open loop" and does not use the O2 sensor signal to adjust the fuel mixture. This typically results in a rich fuel mixture, wasted fuel and higher emissions.

By adding an internal heater circuit to the oxygen sensor, voltage can be routed through the heater as soon as the engine starts to warm up the sensor. The heater element is a resistor that glows red hot when current passes through it. The heater will bring the sensor up to operating temperature within 20 to 60 seconds depending on the sensor, and also keep the oxygen sensor hot even when the engine is idling for a long period of time.

Heated O2 sensors typically have two-three or four wires (the extra wires are for the heater circuit). Note: Replacement O2 sensors must have the same number of wires as the original, and have the same internal resistance.

The OBD II system also monitors the heater circuit and will set a trouble code if the heater circuit inside the O2 sensor is defective. The heater is part of the sensor and cannot be replaced separately, so if the heater circuit is open or shorted and the problem is not in the external wiring or sensor connector, the O2 sensor must be replaced.


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Old 12-28-2017, 09:36 AM   #9
cjhsa
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Default Re: P04020

Great info as always fdryer. But now I'm potentially looking at a much more expensive repair. The vehicle is also due for a timing belt, so adding those two up is likely more than the vehicle is worth, though still cheaper than a new one.

I've only been using it for around town jaunts over the holidays. Scheduled a shop visit on Jan 2 when I go back to work. Happy New Year to me.

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Old 12-28-2017, 11:56 AM   #10
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Default Re: P04020

Quote:
Originally Posted by cjhsa View Post
Autozone says they can no longer reset the CEL - good grief. Now I have to go find a mechanic to do it so I can see if it happens again under regular driving conditions.
Personnel at my local Autozone tell me the same thing, but than they hand me the reader and ask if I want to reset it.

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Old 01-08-2018, 11:10 AM   #11
cjhsa
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Default Re: P04020

So, after resetting the CEL twice, it has not come back on, however, my gas mileage is about 10% reduced. I have taken it to two shops. First one said $1025 for a new catcon. Second shop said they could not condemn the catcon and told me to just drive it.

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Old 01-08-2018, 11:24 AM   #12
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Default Re: P04020

Mileage on this Vue? Winter gas and cold weather takes a penalty on fuel economy.

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Old 01-08-2018, 12:21 PM   #13
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Default Re: P04020

Quote:
Originally Posted by fdryer View Post
Mileage on this Vue? Winter gas and cold weather takes a penalty on fuel economy.
206,000. I was wondering about the gas and cold, but I haven't seen that big of a drop in the past. Because of the code, I am paying closer attention to mileage, but I always do pay attention to it. I typically get 20-22 MPG. Right now I'm getting 18.

Vehicle was serviced about two months ago - all driveline fluids were changed per (your) suggestions here. I have always used synthetic oil as well, one time a guy put in regular oil I made him change it out immediately.

New tires a few months ago. Prior to December, I was getting 20+ MPG. Car sat for five days, threw the code on the fifth day, and hasn't been quite right since.

I do get a lot of compliments on this Vue from the shops I take it to. I rate it in the upper level of "Good" consumer condition. Everything "works" except for the vent flow selector, which I've posted about separately.

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Last edited by cjhsa; 01-08-2018 at 12:27 PM..

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Old 01-08-2018, 12:38 PM   #14
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Default Re: P04020

At 206k miles, your Vue is on the 'dark' side of ownership. Long after new car warranty elapsed and well into ownership mileage, reality creeps in where parts wear out from normal wear and tear. Nothing lasts forever and you're at the point in ownership where expensive parts are worn and need replacement. You might have to consider how you've managed to keep this Vue running, its costs over the years and continuing investing in long term repairs with parts that cannot last forever as much as we want them to. Timing belt, water pump and exhaust system are long term parts.

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Old 01-24-2018, 09:17 PM   #15
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Default Re: P04020

So I had one quote for $1K and another guy tell me he could not condemn the cat. So I have been driving it. CEL is staying off and my mileage is OK. Not great but OK. I'm old school. I'd prefer to rip all that EPA crap off my vehicles at delivery. Crooks.

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