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Catalytic Converter High Failure Rate


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I can tell you Joe working for Honda for so long that if you use anything but the OEM replacement, they will come back on for cat codes. I am not sure why but I think it has to do with the aftermarket ones not being efficient enough. I don't do a lot of cats here but whenever possible, I do try to sell the oem ones if they aren't too far out of range just for that reason.

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  • 2 months later...

We sell a fair amount of catalytic of catalytic converters. In the past we have not had a real issue. We had 6 failures of replacement cats since fall 2009. Our supplier has told us he is not seeing a lot of failures. He actually recommended a seminar on diagnosing cats (a little insulting). I told him that after the second cat, the car is ok, so why is my shop and not his cat?

 

We don’t replace a cat just because we have a cat code; we go thru the diag procedures to insure that nothing killed the cat. We are now going to the dealer, RELUNTANTLY, to purchase our cats.

 

I know there are many cat companies out there and this may not be a valid question, but has anyone else seen a rise in replacement cat failures?

 

 

I've had allot of luck with the Borla cats, I'm getting them from WorldPac, as well some of the hi-flow magnaflow cats... but as well we're a performance minded shop, although even on everyday drivers we'll try our best to offer something better, or explain its all we can get.

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Over the past 1 1/2 to 2 years we have had a pretty large failure rate with aftermarket cats using 2 different companies. We have now mostly gone with O.E. for most applications or if the customer is really strapped we will offer them and aftermarket unit at their gamble. If the unit fails within our warranty, I will install a O.E. one for the difference in price of the converter and they are responsible for the labor again. ( I will return the aftermarket cat to my supplier to get credit for it) Most times the customers go with OE and have had no issues but now at least it gives them an option. If they are just trying to get thru an emission test and do not plan on keeping the car long (which we all have heard that), they a a less expensive option.

 

That is our 2 cents, Tim

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  • 5 months later...

I only use oe bolt in units. I have told a few customers to go to our one and only exhaust place in town and have seen repeat failures of aftermarket cats. We to properly test. I had one he did come in we tested and said it was bad and I advised they take it back to the previous installer. He said it tested fine there was something else wrong. I re-tested found nothing and called the shop. I went through what we tested and how a cat works and they were still saying it wasnt the cat. I believe they just do not know how to test. They only heat test which is one thing I do not do? How are others testing the cats? I monitor the before and after o2's. If its a pluged cat thats a pressure test. Sorry for the ramble.

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Good information, I am lossing faith in aftermarket cats. WE DO test them right and have no failure with oe Cats, just aftermarket. And, many of the cats that come back were replaced becuase of rust thru, not for an emissions failure or check engine light. But, they return with a check engine light that was not on before.

Im sure you do test them right. Most exhaust shops dont understand it. Plus there sales reps feed them false info. I dont have rust in our area. Cat failure isnt a common issue. But I have seen nothing good about the aftermarket ones. Fodd for thought would be to get an oe from say worldpac? But ive found they dont list the gaskets occasionally :-( I will no longer use an aftermarket cat I dont like any comebacks even for a part failure. I kind of group it with aftermarket mass airflow sensors have you ever been in a bind and tried one? Bad news they are junk. Its like a needle in a hay stack to get a good one. I feel cats are in the same boat.

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What I see is a oe cat failing at say 120 K then the aftermarket failing in the next 6k. I believe its the effiency of the cats. They dont seem to be made to the same standard. I dont think all oe parts are the best in all situations but due to the pattern of failures ive experienced ill never sell another aftermarket cat. It could have been a bad bnunch but it ruined me.

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So far I have had no issues with aftermarket cats, but i am always leery of it. I use Magnaflow and IMCO cats. I get direct fir when I can, but have installed some universals as well. I got a good tip from my exhaust supplier. If the vehicle has a LEV or ULEV emissions tag which ALOT of cars do only use the California cats.

 

IMCO is the parent company of the revamped Cherrybomb. Their pricing on the direct fit and california cats is scarily competitive.

 

Like I stated before I am still leery of the aftermarket cats but so far so good.

 

Food for thought. OEM cats bring upwards of $80 apiece for scrap. Aftermarket cats are virtually worthless.

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  • 3 months later...

Aftermarket cats have less paladium and platinum in them, they also have different substrate materials to make the lower content of precious metals a more workable solution. They have vastly lower services life due to this.

 

OEM cats in a market that demands 100% emissions conpliance is huge. Also alot of oil companies are adding nitrogen and more ethanol to the fuel. Ethanol leaves a very aggrevating residue lower tempature aftermarket cats may not be capable of burning off.

 

I don't replace many cats. Although I get lots of exhuast repairs lately where cats have been stolen and the customer refuss to replace the catalyst. Thats becomign very prevelant.

 

If you are in a area with lax enforcement you can also buy programming tools to remove the annoying codes if thats what your customers wish.

 

We also work on alot of race cars and street performance mcahicnes so my customer spectrum may widely vary from that of the average auto shop.

Edited by CollinsAutomotive
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In March at our Car-x trade show I talked to the Walker exhaust people about some of the problems we have had with aftermarket Goerlich/Catco converters. This problem has been most confined to some GMs for us. Here is what he told me. He said that there are certain vehicles that all of the after market converter manufacturers have had problems with. This is because the computers in those cars had a finer tolerance and these after market converters would thus trigger a code. He told me that all of the manufacturers had addressed this problem by coming up with a new design beefer converter loaded with more of the precious stuff and that now they pretty much had this problem licked as long as you go with the new design converters.

 

 

thats very beliveable actually. I remeber about 5 years ago replacement cats were a crap shoot. I don't replace many of them but I did notice less check engine lights on in recent years with replacement cats.

 

There are programming tools which will allow you to change the switching thresholds of the sensors. But it requires a good bit of knowledge to execute and you won't be able to do all cars.

 

chrysler trucks with the 5.2 and 5.9 and even some hmei models had cat efficiency checking that was so lax, you could take the cat off and it would likely not set a light.

Edited by CollinsAutomotive
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We have replaced more catalytic converters in the last 6 weeks than at anytime in our history. Quite a few high end cars have been involved. What is going on? Do you think the extreme heat we have been having is part of the reason?

 

Cat problems on high end cars often end up being the use of low octane fuel in something requiring 91 octane or higher. I've been seeing this more often lately on Audi's quite a bit and a few Mercedes. The key is that the cat is often not bad, just not working. Its clogged up with a velvet fluff of carbon. If you put a good quality high octane fuel in and perform the Italian tune up the cats will get hot enough and blow out most of that carbon. If maintained with good fuel the codes never come back. Sometimes upstream o2s will need replacing as they are also clogged up. If they are bad you'll often see a slow response/aging code also. Bosch, BMW and in some cases VW/Audi recommend replacement of upstream o2s after 100k anyway so its an easy sell and helps fuel economy too in a lot of cases.

 

 

On fitment issues with aftermarket cats, I'm done with Bosal, They're quality has gone in the crapper and they simply don't fit most cars. Hands down the most cat replacements we see are on Subarus. Bosal cats are a nightmare to fit on a subaru and they will always come back even if you get the "premium load" units. Last few units I put in were from CarQuest, I think were Goerlichs. Much better fitments, we'll see if they come back, oldest one is only in a few months or so now.

 

Like others have said, most cat codes do not require cat replacement, when they do though, like others I have not found an after-market solution that I'm satisfied with.

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  • 7 months later...

i didnt see anyone mention this yet.

 

i wonder if the rise in Ethanol content has triggered this (p0420) outbreak, working in retail parts i have seen many more p0420 in the last 18 month than the first 18 i worked there.if i remember correctly Ethanol burns hotter than gas, could that be causing cat temps to be higher and possibly lowering there performance.

 

 

Joe, as we all know in NY rust thru is huge, especially in exhaust parts, i do notice that aftermarket (walker in my case) are built thinner and seem to rust quicker. the only thing i can see that would help is a coat of VHT/header paint to slow the process.

 

the ideal thing would for the OE to go stainless (would raise the cost by a grand or less) and stop the rust all together. same with brake lines.

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  • Have you checked out Joe's Latest Blog?

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      Got your attention? Good. The truth is, there is no such thing as the perfect technician pay plan. There are countless ways to create any pay plan. I’ve heard all the claims and opinions, and to be honest, it’s getting a little frustrating. Claims that an hourly paid pay plan cannot motivate. That flat rate is the only way to truly get the most production from your technicians. And then there’s the hybrid performance-based pay plan that many claim is the best.
      At a recent industry event, a shop owner from the Midwest boasted about his flat-rate techs and insisted that this pay plan should be adopted by all shops across the country. When I informed him that in states like New York, you cannot pay flat-rate, he was shocked. “Then how do you motivate your techs” he asked me.
      I remember the day in 1986 when I hired the best technician who ever worked for me in my 41 years as an automotive shop owner. We’ll call him Hal. When Hal reviewed my pay plan for him, and the incentive bonus document, he stared at it for a minute, looked up, and said, “Joe, this looks good, but here’s what I want.” He then wrote on top of the document the weekly salary he wanted. It was a BIG number. He went on to say, “Joe, I need to take home a certain amount of money. I have a home, a wife, two kids, and my Harly Davidson. I will work hard and produce for you. I don’t need an incentive bonus to do my work.” And he did, for the next 30 years, until the day he retired.
      Everyone is entitled to their opinion. So, here’s mine. Money is a motivator, but not the only motivator, and not the best motivator either. We have all heard this scenario, “She quit ABC Auto Center, to get a job at XYZ Auto Repair, and she’s making less money now at XYZ!” We all know that people don’t leave companies, they leave the people they work for or work with.
      With all this said, I do believe that an incentive-based pay plan can work. However, I also believe that a technician must be paid a very good base wage that is commensurate with their ability, experience, and certifications. I also believe that in addition to money, there needs to be a great benefits package. But the icing on the cake in any pay plan is the culture, mission, and vision of the company, which takes strong leadership. And let’s not forget that motivation also comes from praise, recognition, respect, and when technicians know that their work matters.
      Rather than looking for that elusive perfect pay plan, sit down with your technician. Find out what motivates them. What their goals are. Why do they get out of bed in the morning? When you tie their goals with your goals, you will have one powerful pay plan.
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