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Old 05-11-2019, 02:45 AM   #1
seansaturn
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Dazed p0420 AND p0430 - 2007 Saturn Vue 3.5L V6 AWD

2007 Saturn Vue 3.5L V6 AWD - 178k miles

I have managed to obtain a 30-day moving permit to get this car on the road (finally) and figure out the engine codes so I can get it smogged in Nevada. So because I only have 30 days, I'm in a bit of a rush to figure this out.

OBD codes in order:
1. p0420
2. p0430

I was thinking this was an O2 sensor issue, but as I have both catcon codes, maybe both cats are bad instead? The engine did have one dead fuel injector, which is now fixed, but maybe that caused the cats to foul?

I was wondering what first steps I should take towards a diagnosis, then fix? I have standard car tools and jackstands, nothing special.

After spending a few hours on the internet (Which yielded some interesting results), I wanted some opinions on steps for diagnosis.

1. Rent tool to check exhaust pressure, can confirm blockage in catcon and/or muffler?

2. Buy and add lacquer thinner (or other catcon cleaning product) to gas tank and drive ~150 miles to try and clean catcons

3. Rent sensor removal tool and remove (downstream?) O2 sensors and check them using the kitchen cooker to heat them. (Not sure I can switch them as I have codes for both cats)

4. Remove catcons and check of honeycomb is in tact. Not sure if this can be done with a standard jack? The service manaul recommended hoisting the vechicle and I would need to replace gaskets on the exhaust manifold either way it played out.

5. I saw a recommandation to install spark plug foulers to trick the O2 sensor readings, however, during a smog check, I'm sure they would give it a visual inspection, then it still may fail a tailpipe test (and theres the environment etc)

6. Any others???

If I missed anything, let me know. I put a lot of research and thought into this post before sharing. Thanks!

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Old 05-11-2019, 08:31 AM   #2
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Default Re: p0420 AND p0430 - 2007 Saturn Vue 3.5L V6 AWD

I've had good luck with O2 sensor spacers.





Unless they put the Vue on a lift as part of the emissions test, I doubt they would see them.

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Old 05-11-2019, 02:52 PM   #3
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Default Re: p0420 AND p0430 - 2007 Saturn Vue 3.5L V6 AWD

Quote:
Originally Posted by atikovi View Post
I've had good luck with O2 sensor spacers.

Unless they put the Vue on a lift as part of the emissions test, I doubt they would see them.
Is this the same as a spark plug fouler?
If they didn't give it a visual inspection, wouldn't it still fail a tailpipe test?
Did you install on downstream or upstream?

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Old 05-11-2019, 02:59 PM   #4
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Default Re: p0420 AND p0430 - 2007 Saturn Vue 3.5L V6 AWD

More or less the same. Spark plug fouler is more of a ghetto repair since you have to drill them out and sometime stack them together. The spacers are plug and play for a few bucks more.

I may be wrong but what state does a tailpipe test on OBD2 cars? They should just plug in their computer to check for codes and readiness.

Can't remember where but from the pictures it should be clear.

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Old 05-11-2019, 04:18 PM   #5
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Default Re: p0420 AND p0430 - 2007 Saturn Vue 3.5L V6 AWD

Quote:
Originally Posted by atikovi View Post
More or less the same. Spark plug fouler is more of a ghetto repair since you have to drill them out and sometime stack them together. The spacers are plug and play for a few bucks more.

I may be wrong but what state does a tailpipe test on OBD2 cars? They should just plug in their computer to check for codes and readiness.

Can't remember where but from the pictures it should be clear.
Gotcha.

Pictures didn't load on my phone, I see them now, downstream it is.

Only problem is that if my catcons are blocked, it could cause engine damage, so I would need to check pressure on a saturn vue in the meantime. I figured if I unplug upstream sensor and put a rented tester in there, that would work right?

I assumed that the equipment would check for readiness, then they would actually measure the emissions. I have no idea about other american states, but in the UK, it's standard. Otherwise, how would you know nothing is tricking the computer? lol
In Nevada, they have a weird rule where you cannot go into the workshop unless you are employed by them, some health and safety nonsense, so I haven't actually seen first hand what happens here in NV.

I cannot seem to find o2 spacers in stores, but I see them online. Legally issue(?), I can find non-foulers in stores though. Maybe that is the difference. I saw some long clearance non-foulers, which wouldnt require drilling, but they are 14mm, I think I need 18mm(?)

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Old 05-11-2019, 04:30 PM   #6
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Default Re: p0420 AND p0430 - 2007 Saturn Vue 3.5L V6 AWD

http://o2-simulators.com/?gclid=CJTi...FUxlfAod5x4k2w

Most states don't have the time or equipment to run tailpipe and treadmill tests on all cars to catch the .00001% that may be cheating the system. OBD2 is just plug and play and catches most emissions problems. Quick and clean for 99.999% of the cars made since 1996. Most but not all. My 2008 Pontiac throws an evap code regularly. I was able to erase the code, drive it until all but one monitor was complete (they allow 1 incomplete monitor for 2008) then quickly drove to the inspection station where it passed. Good for 2 more years.

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Old 05-11-2019, 05:02 PM   #7
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Default Re: p0420 AND p0430 - 2007 Saturn Vue 3.5L V6 AWD

I have never witnessed a treadmill test. Usually they just start the car and test the tailpipe; a quick 2 minute job. Otherwise, How would you test an older car?

I will give it a try. I saw some on Amazon that can be here by Monday. Looks like it's 18mm. Don't have much to lose! I looked at the bolts on the catcons and they aren't even hexagonal anymore, so it's going to be a high pain to manually check their condition.
https://www.amazon.com/JGR-Universal...gateway&sr=8-3

If anybody has any other thoughts on the OP, I am open to ideas and suggestions. Thanks

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Old 05-11-2019, 07:59 PM   #8
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Default Re: p0420 AND p0430 - 2007 Saturn Vue 3.5L V6 AWD

Around here cars before 1996 without OBD2 get the treadmill test simulating a short drive. Cars 25 years old are exempt so that should be eliminated soon.

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Old 05-11-2019, 11:22 PM   #9
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Default Re: p0420 AND p0430 - 2007 Saturn Vue 3.5L V6 AWD

I managed to get hold of a scanner that tests the voltage of the sensors as you drive.

It seemed that sensor 1 for bank 1 and bank 2 are giving 0 voltage.
It seemed that sensor 2 for bank 1 and bank 2 seem to measure ok.

Maybe it's a wiring harness issue?

Im not sure these adapters will help? Im not really sure how the computer throws the light in these instances, so I have no idea. Any thought anybody?

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Old 05-12-2019, 11:43 AM   #10
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Default Re: p0420 AND p0430 - 2007 Saturn Vue 3.5L V6 AWD

OBD I, '91-'95 vehicles were the first generation of automatic on-board emissions self tests. Some states like N.Y. required exhaust gas sniffers while the vehicle was placed on rollers to allow various speeds. The inspector sat in the car watching a rudimentary GPS like map telling him what speed was needed at certain points of a regulated test drive. Speed and exhaust output were correlated for the emissions tests. Approximately 30 minutes per emissions inspection but this included setup on the rollers and coordinating from the beginning of the test drive until the end. I was informed that each 30 minute test equated to a maximum of 16 inspections a day for an 8 hr day. Probably less vehicles per day as one service bay was dedicated to emissions inspections. Stations lost money on this venture and made up lost revenue with repairs. When OBD II replaced OBD I, exhaust sniffing and rollers went away. OBD II does its own emissions self tests every time the engine is started and vehicle driven, monitored the entire time a vehicle is running.

The exhaust manifold mounted O2 sensors monitors engine emissions and feeds signals back to the engine computer for instantaneous adjustment of air/fuel mixtures for the lowest emissions during engine running. The O2 sensors mounted after the catcons monitor catcon efficiency. The front and rear sensors on one side of V6 engine are compared and if outputs are the same the catcon is worn and requires replacement. Normal catcon efficiency is a steady value between 0.4-0.8. Precat sensors show varying values as sensor frequency occurs a few times per second with lambda sensors operating differently from original sensors. Lambda sensors output around 1v and fluctuate plus or minus a few tenths of a volt while the downstream sensors output a steady value.

Sensor-1 are upstream (of the catcon) sensors. Sensor-2 are downstream (of the catcons) sensors.

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Old 05-12-2019, 11:43 PM   #11
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Default Re: p0420 AND p0430 - 2007 Saturn Vue 3.5L V6 AWD

That's some good advice on emissions test are performed in the US, good stuff!

I took some screenshots from the scan tool (Torque pro). I used a cheap elm 327 BT dongle.

Bank 1 & 2 Sensor 2's
https://i.imgur.com/ybY6ER5.jpg
https://i.imgur.com/mLMu4NK.jpg

Full readout showing Sensor 1's blank
https://i.imgur.com/KbhDmZs.jpg

I wanted to plug the front harness into the rear sensors, so when I went to try that today, I didn't realise the pin-outs are different on up and down stream. The upstream have 5 wires with 8 pin holes. Downstream has 4 wires with 4 pinholes I think it was.

I tried to test the upstream harness but couldnt find the diagram in my service manual, so I was unsure what to test. I probes around and picked up 3v on some pins and 10v on another. Does anybody have access to a diagram so I can test the harness is ok? I assume I am just checking voltage here? (I'm not a sparky by any means!)

I also ordered some o2 spacers. They were only $10. I thought they might be useful down the line as we have 3 vehicles, normally I dont throw money at anything until I'm 100% sure!

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Old 05-13-2019, 12:29 AM   #12
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Default Re: p0420 AND p0430 - 2007 Saturn Vue 3.5L V6 AWD

O2 sensor spacers may not be effective if both upstream sensors fail to output signals. Its presumed a weak sensor may benefit from the extension tubes but not if sensors are dead.

Presuming '05 Vues are the same as '07s, both using 3.5L engines, service manual descriptions for P0420/P0430 may help.

DTC P0420 or P0430

Description
In order to control emissions of hydrocarbons (HC), carbon monoxide (CO), and oxides of nitrogen (NOx), a three-way catalytic converter (TWC) is used. The catalyst within the converter promotes a chemical reaction that oxidizes the HC and the CO that is present in the exhaust gases. The oxidation process converts the HC and CO into harmless water vapor and carbon dioxide. The catalyst also reduces NOx by converting NOx to nitrogen. The powertrain control module (PCM) has the ability to monitor this process using the fuel control heated oxygen sensors (HO2S) and catalyst monitoring HO2S. The fuel control HO2S produces an output signal which indicates the amount of oxygen present in the exhaust gases entering the TWC converter. The catalyst monitor HO2S produces an output signal that indicates the oxygen storage capacity of the catalyst in the TWC converter. The oxygen storage capacity of the catalyst is an indicator of the converter ability to convert exhaust gases efficiently. The fuel control HO2S output signal will be far more active than the catalyst monitor HO2S output signal when the converter catalyst is operating efficiently. if the PCM detects a level of catalyst monitor HO2S activity that indicates the catalyst is no longer operating effectively, this DTC will set.

*DTC P0420 Catalyst System Low Efficiency Bank 1
*DTC P0430 Catalyst System Low Efficiency Bank 2


What's puzzling is the lack of error codes pointing to each upstream sensor failure like;

DTC P0133 or P0153

DTC P0135 or P0155

DTC P0137 or P0157

DTC P0138 or P0158

DTC P0139 or P0159

DTC P0141 or P0161

If you can, try Autozone or other auto store providing free OBD II scans for error codes to see if other codes exist.
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Old 05-13-2019, 01:46 AM   #13
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Default Re: p0420 AND p0430 - 2007 Saturn Vue 3.5L V6 AWD

Quote:
Originally Posted by fdryer View Post
O2 sensor spacers may not be effective if both upstream sensors fail to output signals. Its presumed a weak sensor may benefit from the extension tubes but not if sensors are dead.

Presuming '05 Vues are the same as '07s, both using 3.5L engines, service manual descriptions for P0420/P0430 may help.

DTC P0420 or P0430

Description
In order to control emissions of hydrocarbons (HC), carbon monoxide (CO), and oxides of nitrogen (NOx), a three-way catalytic converter (TWC) is used. The catalyst within the converter promotes a chemical reaction that oxidizes the HC and the CO that is present in the exhaust gases. The oxidation process converts the HC and CO into harmless water vapor and carbon dioxide. The catalyst also reduces NOx by converting NOx to nitrogen. The powertrain control module (PCM) has the ability to monitor this process using the fuel control heated oxygen sensors (HO2S) and catalyst monitoring HO2S. The fuel control HO2S produces an output signal which indicates the amount of oxygen present in the exhaust gases entering the TWC converter. The catalyst monitor HO2S produces an output signal that indicates the oxygen storage capacity of the catalyst in the TWC converter. The oxygen storage capacity of the catalyst is an indicator of the converter ability to convert exhaust gases efficiently. The fuel control HO2S output signal will be far more active than the catalyst monitor HO2S output signal when the converter catalyst is operating efficiently. if the PCM detects a level of catalyst monitor HO2S activity that indicates the catalyst is no longer operating effectively, this DTC will set.

*DTC P0420 Catalyst System Low Efficiency Bank 1
*DTC P0430 Catalyst System Low Efficiency Bank 2


What's puzzling is the lack of error codes pointing to each upstream sensor failure like;

DTC P0133 or P0153

DTC P0135 or P0155

DTC P0137 or P0157

DTC P0138 or P0158

DTC P0139 or P0159

DTC P0141 or P0161

If you can, try Autozone or other auto store providing free OBD II scans for error codes to see if other codes exist.
I took it to Autozone when I rented the O2 sensor socket, they pulled the same two codes as in the OP They told me both catcons were dead and it would be $900 for parts. I tried a CarMD scanner just now, same two codes.

I will probe around the harness again tomorrow, thank you for the diagram!! Amazing!

I tried to get the upstream sensors off to test them on the cooker but I ran out of daylight and they are really stuck on there. I left them in penetrating fluid for tomorrow. Will update then.

Is there any reason the codes would give 0 voltage via the scan tool? It could be a bad harness, it could be two dead sensors, could be a bad scan tool, scan software issue, but if the harness is ok and the sensors are fine, are upstream sensors on a seperate fuse or is there anything else to check? When things go out in pairs, I get a little skeptical about other things at play!

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Old 05-13-2019, 01:07 PM   #14
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Default Re: p0420 AND p0430 - 2007 Saturn Vue 3.5L V6 AWD

Eliminating scanner error is easy when you try more than one. The electrical diagram shows only two O2 sensors, bank -1 sensors 1 and 2. One fuse to that circuit. I presume another fuse powers bank -2 for sensors 1 and 2. Wiring diagrams are electrical with symbols no different from road maps with symbols. If you really want to be impressed, try examining sectional maps for flying......

Sight unseen, I'm not clairvoyant. One new member in college was struggling with finishing up repairs replacing a clutch, difficulty reinserting the slave cylinder. Unable to compress the slave rod back into the cylinder, he reached out to Saturnfans. After several well meaning suggestions, none seeing what he saw, he found the clutch pedal boot was interfering and kept the pedal/master cylinder actuated, keeping the slave cylinder rod extended. Moving the boot and retracting the clutch pedal/master cylinder allowed the slave cylinder to go into place. Problem solved.

The wiring diagram includes voltages to measure with sensors disconnected. After checking fuses, signal voltages should be seen on some pins to eliminate wiring damage. In my mind, two sensors suggest power or ground then wiring before condemning two faulty sensors. I use experience from work in electronics and mechanical things to develop diagnostic and troubleshooting steps. Sometimes I call on others more expert than I am in certain areas. Team work always pays against a lone wolf approach without a clue.

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Old 05-13-2019, 10:29 PM   #15
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Default Re: p0420 AND p0430 - 2007 Saturn Vue 3.5L V6 AWD

I'm thinking the electrical diagram above is a little different for the 2007 AWD. The harness has 7 pins total. I tested the harness today and I was getting 6v on two pins, 8v on two pins and 12v on two pins. I guess the 7th pin was a ground pin?

I saw a fuse under the hood marked "* *" (without quotes). Checking the service manual, this 10A fuse was for emissions, the fuse looked ok. I didn't see a secondary fuse, so I presume this is for the entire harness.

I managed to get both upstream sensors off, they give a voltage (Not 0v anyway!) when I heated them.

Both upstream sensors gave ~3ohms (blue and yellow wires - I suppose that was the heater), and both downstream gave ~7ohms.

O2 adapters arrived today, unfortunately they were too long for the downstream sensor in front of the engine on this make and model. I -might- have managed to get it in with a very thin wrench, but the fitting was so tight! So I mailed them back for a replacement smaller fit to arrive in a couple of days.

As both o2 sensors were giving some sort of voltage with a multimeter, I assume there is an issue elsewhere. Where, I have no idea! A bit stumped at the moment!

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Old 05-13-2019, 11:18 PM   #16
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Default Re: p0420 AND p0430 - 2007 Saturn Vue 3.5L V6 AWD

There's one member here in the Vue forums that can be contacted by private messaging to ask for wiring diagrams otherwise it may be a good investment to subscribe to either alldata or Mitchell for immediate online access to service manuals (second to none compared to GM manuals).

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Old 05-31-2019, 07:13 PM   #17
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Default Re: p0420 AND p0430 - 2007 Saturn Vue 3.5L V6 AWD

Posting an update!

I've been busy, but I took out a 30 day movement permit for $2 from the local DMV, this was almost a month ago now.

The shorter O2 sensor adapters arrived and I fitted them both on the downstream sensors. (The longer ones didn't quite fit on the AWD 2007 Vue) a bit of engine prevented me from getting it in lol

I cleared the codes and drove to Bryce Canyon, about a 4.5 hour drive. Finally, the catalyst monitor completed! Hooray!! I haven't managed to diagnose the root of the issue, I imagine a blogged (or the total opposite, an empty) catcon. I need to get a pressure tester to make sure the catcons are not blocked otherwise it might do some damage.

I noticed the EVAP monitor has never completed. Luckily, in Clark County Nevada, and I didn't realize this, but as long as there is no engine light, they will allow ONE monitor to be in an incomplete state... Some states allow two. So I took it for smog and it passed!!

I realized the temperature sensor isn't quite getting to 3/8 on the gauge. I understand this is a requirement for the EVAP monitor to even start, so I assume a faulty thermostat or engine coolant temperature sensor. I haven't managed to look into this yet. The coolant looks a brownish color, so it might need a flush, so that would be a good opportunity to also replace the thermostat.

Thank you for the O2 Sensor adapter suggestion!

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Old 06-01-2019, 01:39 PM   #18
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Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: NYC
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2003 L-Series 3.0L Sedan
Default Re: p0420 AND p0430 - 2007 Saturn Vue 3.5L V6 AWD

An easy way to monitor coolant temps more accurately is with a reader displaying it. Expect 185F-195F after a full warmup.

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