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I was out of town on business this week. This means something was going to go wrong with one of the cars. It allwaus seems to play out that way.
Anyway, when I called home on Wednesday, DW told be that the emissions light on the 99 Honda Odyssey came on. She was hesistant to keep driving it until I got back on Friday. She made an appointment at the local Honda dealer to read the code on Thursday even though they charge $40 to do this.
She went in and waited for them to return and report what the problem is. Usually, they don't have the part on hand or if they do the don't have the time to fix it that day so you need to come back.
After two hours, the service manager told her the car was ready. They had replaced the catalytic converter for free under the 8 yr 80,000 mile federal warranty. Good deal.
This got me to thinking about the failure. The car only has 70,000 miles on it. I have never had a catalytic converter fail before. We have had a once a year emissions inspection forever so I had a lot of tests done over the last 20 years. I think Honda had a problem that year. Why else would they have a stock of that particular converter on hand? They also sent me a notice several months ago stating that any emissions failure before 8 yrs and 80,000 miles would be fixed for free. This was also unusual.
I don't know what rules in effect were in 99. Now, catalytic converters must meet emission limits at 150,000 miles. That is, they are aged for 150,000 miles prior to certification. So 70,000 miles seems way to low.
I suspect a manufacturing defect.
Anyway, I am writing this to alert other Honda owners, espectially Odyssey owners to be aware of the problem. The Honda dealer said the cost would have been $1000 if the warranty did not apply.

The Chief
Who will be out of town a lot in the near future and fears more of these phone calls.
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Hey Chief!

The cost would probably be a lot lower at an independent muffler shop for a cat replacement - FWIW - if I needed a catalytic coverter the dealer is the last place I would go if I'm paying for the job. Happy to hear it is under warranty and that it was relatively painless.

I've had to do the catalytic conveter on one car in my life - my Ford Probe, but it needed replacement at 139K miles and that was back in 1991.
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The cost would probably be a lot lower at an independent muffler shop for a cat replacement - FWIW

The Miata, 99+ years, has a reputation for a cat failure, especially after a coil pack failure the 99-00 years. The cat seems to be very weak on the cars....especially the California models with a pre-cat.

The aftermarket cats are 2 element instead of the manufacturers 3 element cats. From the Miata boards, people using aftermarket cats, which are not carb certified, have had their performance degrade within 1 or 2 years and the check engine light showing up.

While the labor to replace the cat would be cheaper at the muffler shop......you still need the Honda cat to keep from repeating the experience. The part is not cheap.

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I've had to do the catalytic conveter on one car in my life - my Ford Probe, but it needed replacement at 139K miles and that was back in 1991.

We had one car where we had to swap out the cat twice! Once my independent guy did, the other one I did myself.. But the 1982 Mazda RX7 was the culprit.. Just start noticing a loss of power, turns out the leading edges of the cat honeycomb were melting down, blocking the exhaust flow.. They had it too close to the engine, I guess, maybe if it ran lean it got a tad too hot, but they weren't noted for running lean.. great little fun car, but it did need care to get it past the CA emissions tests.. In any case the exhaust evidently could exceed the platinum melting point!

weco
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Wecoguy...

I had a 81 VW (Aircooled) Vanagon with a similar problem... the cat was plugged on the engine side.

When cats were new many people lost them because they mixed leaded fuel in to save money. Obviously, it isn't an issue today.

Was this a long time ago? Is it possible you got lead-tainted fuel?
UB
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Is it possible you got lead-tainted fuel?

Nope, in the RX7, the cat was within a couple feet of the engine, just too close, and maybe done intentionally to clean up the rich exhaust.. We always had fun getting the rotary to pass CA Smog checks, it had to be right on, as far as tuneups, and also well warmed up, as in run it hard just prior to taking it in.. most times I had my independent mechanic, an ex-Mazda tech, do the tuneup and his wife would run it to a local Smog shop so they cold do the right setup.. Loved that car, fun to drive, but as Grandkids came along it lost out..

If I wasn't working full time I suspect the fix would have been to push the cat back another foot or so.. But the way CA looks at it, that might be considered a modification to the system and that alone would make it fail the checkup.. Not sure if they changed the location in later models, lost track..

weco
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One of my friends in high school had an RX2.
It was loads of fun to drive and he had it tricked out with special shocks and springs. But when it came to passing smog it was very difficult. It always smelled like raw gas when idling, and only got 20 mpg on a good day.
I don't know if it ever passed smog- legally, anyway.

The engine didn't last very long anyway. Seals went bad quickly in those older rotaries.

Maybe Mazda should have looked at something more like this;

http://www.quasiturbine.com/

UB
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Yes, early rotaries were trouble, but a good mechanic, plus keeping it up to snuff helped.. Ours was an '82.. all of maybe 2200 pounds.. evenly split, it was fun to drive.. Stuck tight, but if it broke loose, gone.. I works down the coast at Stinson Beach for a while, and the coast road was a kick, but then one day I pushed it a little too hard, almost ended up in Bolinas Bay, or one of the little inlets along there.. It was like it was on skates, then at the last second it grabbed, and I made the corner, but for my own safety, I decided I'd drive the old PU after that.. better not to be tempted.. :)

Yes, they ran rich, double plugs helped keep it fired, but CA Smog was always a pain.. There was a little bigger rotary in Mazda's ROTARY PU, some guys dropped those in, added a bit more.. I looked around just for one as a replacement PU, but they were fairly scarce up here..

A sound all their own as well.. Actually an amazing little motor.. the crank had such a small offset it was hard to see how much torque it handled.. I remember BMW had a M/c with a Wankel, also saw in magazines, a lawnmower based on it.. Even model airplane engines.. So few parts..

weco
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I never felt like Mazda really developed the rotor-motor to its potential. That first RX7 was terrific, and it got incrementally better every year into the early 1980s when Mazda invented… the Porsche 944.

We heard about all of these rotary advantages, but at its peak the RX7 was within spitting distance of the Porsche and its old four-cylinder. And the third-generation cars were weird-looking and not big successes and since that was the only market for the motor, it all dried up there.

Model airplane engines? Cessna was testing a rotary for a while.
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I believe Mazda had other models, sedans they marketed in Japan, but never brought them here because of the emission issues.. I/we enjoyed the technology, hoped it would have continued to develop, but it never happened.. It certainly has to be the most compact package.. I can't recall what we paid for the '82, pretty reasonable if I recall.

I did have trouble with it's starter, replaced it a couple times.. And, once the solenoid wire fell off, discovered there was no way to fit far enough under there to reach, much less see the top of the starter.. Push started it to get it home, and even then had to use a mirror to see and finally realize the wire was missing..

BIL had one, maybe a '83 or '84, had a lot of trouble with his interior falling apart..

And then came Grandkids, no more 2 seaters..
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