2001 Toyota Camry Q&A

2001 Toyota Camry Question: PO420 check engine light error - catalytic converter already replaced twice

Hi, I have a 2001 with close to 250,000 miles on it. Throughout it's life the check engine light has periodically come on and gone back off (error codes were never read). Recently, I acquired the car and when the light came on had the code read (PO420). I noticed a smell around this same time of oil or burning rubber coming in through the vents (mostly when the heat is cranked up). I don't remember a smell prior to the light (but I was driving it more sparingly then in better temperatures). I took it to a local garage and he said to replace the catalytic converter - I asked about the O2 sensors and he said it would not be them. I replaced the converter and within a two months the light was back on. He thought it might have been a faulty converter so he put a new one in. Two months later my light is back on. The mechanic said the next step would be getting the computer replaced at a dealership. How much does this cost and is this the most likely cause of the trouble? -
Answer 1
no, not computer. you need a better converter. if you used an aftermarket, they are cheap and do not have the precious metals in the unit and fail early. get a dealer one, which is pricy, but it will keep the light out. Roy -
Comment 1
Seems a bit silly to me that a company would make a product so cheap that it fails within 2 months. The warranty covers the converter up to 80,000 miles so I didn't pay for the 2nd replacement. Would the metals really be that cheap to allow it to fail within 2 months? -
Comment 2
yes, it is the lack of the proper amount. thats why the cheap one is 150-250 and the oem converter is 600-700. Roy -
Comment 3
Well the converter did cost a bit over $600 and the mechanic was recommended from several reputable people in my town who have been going to him for years so I doubt I was ripped off. Do you think it could be anything else or is it still likely the converter? -
Answer 2
Agree with Roy cheaper cats have less active material in them than the OE Toyota cats. A higher mileage engine that burns oil or an engine that runs rich can cause premature cat failure. It would be nice to see freeze frame information to see fuel trim figures and O2 sensor readings to see if indeed the cat is bad. -