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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
2013 Rio LX 4-Door. 76,500 miles.

CEL stayed ON for two days; then went OFF. Code P0420 "catalyst system efficiency below threshold." Local Kia dealer's first available slot for a diagnostic appointment is one week from now; they charge $90.00 to diagnose the problem; they say there's a 8-year 80,000 mile warranty on the catalytic converter.

Any thoughts? Suggestions? Tips?

Thanks for your help!
 

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2011 Forte SX 2.4L (thankfully MPI) A/T 144K miles
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First off, it's possible that the P0420 could be caused by a bad O2 sensor, however it's far more often the result of the cat not performing properly. If your vehicle is using oil, or had a bad misfire in the past, then it's almost certain that the cat is on the way out.

The 80K/8 year warranty is federal emissions, so they're on the level about that. However, if the CEL is off and there's no P0420 code stored, it's very unlikely that Kia will diagnose and replace the cat. And it's also not certain what they will do if that code has been stored but the CEL is off. So in this case you're hoping that the CEL and the P0420 comes back and remains until you take it in.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
If the CEL is off and there's no P0420 code stored, it's very unlikely that Kia will diagnose and replace the cat. It's also uncertain what they will do if that code has been stored but the CEL is off. So, in your case, you're hoping that both the CEL and the code come back and remain until you take it in for a diagnostic.
EXCELLENT ADVICE! Thank you!

In looking at the potential "bad" parts, it looks like the following parts could be involved:

Mnfd W/Converter - Kia (28510-2BEF1). This appears to include the warm-up catalytic converter.
Oxygen Sensor - Kia (39210-2B210). Front oxygen sensor.
Oxygen Sensor - Kia (39210-2B220). Rear oxygen sensor.
Intermediate Pipe - Kia (28600-1W850). This appears to include the under-floor catalytic converter.
 

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2008 SpectraSX, 2014 Optima LX,2006 Jeep Liberty, Linux Mint Mate
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With 76k miles on the car unless you drove the car with a CEL (check engine light) for quite some distance I would doubt that the CAT is bad... I would tend to believe that the O2 sensor has problems or the connections on the sensor plug/socket is corroded... Either way drive it until the P code comes back and DON'T clear the code...then take it back to the dealer for repair... They won't do anything until they can read the codes and you need the code(s) to protect yourself from an improper diagnosis/repair if it (the code) shows up in the future out of warranty... The FEDs require all manufactures to honor emissions warranties...
Dave
 

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Discussion Starter #5
The CEL came ON (for 2 days) and then went OFF. On day 3, when the CEL was OFF, the P code was read. How long will the P code be stored in history?
 

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.... How long will the P code be stored in history?
There is logic in the ECM which requires a certain number of drive cycles/events to take place before the code is reset, and emissions codes typically hang around longer than other ones do. The problem is that it's nearly impossible to figure out exactly what needs to happen in order for the ECM to erase codes.

I've tried to follow published specs for resetting codes on 2 other vehicles in the past, and neither of those efforts was successful. So the answer is that, unless someone around here wrote that ECM code, you're not going to get an answer to that question.

What I suggest you do is call your local stealership service and ask if they would be able to diagnose and replace a cat under fed warranty if no CEL is on, but the code is stored. I'm not sure if they would be willing to give you a definitive answer over the phone, but it's worth a try to save you a wasted trip. If your local Kia won't answer either way, then try some others to see if someone is friendly enough to help you out. I have a feeling the actual answer is 'no', but don't know that for certain.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I'm 8 days into this, it's been driven every day (200 miles today), and the P code is still in the computer (even though the CEL has been OFF for 4 days). What gives? The CEL has been OFF for 4 days, why hasn't the P code been cleared from the computer?
 

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... The CEL has been OFF for 4 days, why hasn't the P code been cleared from the computer?
This comes as no surprise to me at all. I recently replaced an O2 sensor in my daughters Mazda, and it took around 3 weeks of regular driving for the O2 sensor code to clear. It's basically a crap shoot how long the code will hang around for any given vehicle, and emissions-related codes normally take longer to be removed.
 

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The emissions P codes usually will remain in memory until cleared by a scanner... The CEL (check engine light) will go out fairly quickly... The code remains so that the next reading mechanic or owner can see what led up to a failure... (history)...
Like I said it can be erased using a reader/scanner...
Dave
 

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In my post, I was talking about permanent codes (P-DTC), which can't be erased by a standard OBD tool. Those suckers stay until the ECM decides to clear them.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I don't understand. I'm getting a P0420.

1. Are you saying there are codes that CAN be erased from history by a tool, and codes that CANNOT be erased from history by a tool?
2. What's the difference between a "P" code and a "P-DTC" code?
3. If I disconnect the battery, will a "P" code be erased from history? Will a "P-DTC" code be erased from history?

It would be nice if the forum had a thorough, all encompassing, primer on this topic.
 

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Permanent codes (P-DTC) were developed in 2010-11, in order to try to stop people from clearing codes before emissions testing (for states having such testing).

Yes, even permanent codes can be erased by disconnecting the battery for an extended period of time, because doing so resets computer memory back to the factory settings. But, from the perspective of emissions testing, disconnecting the battery doesn't allow anyone to pass testing, because it then takes an even longer time for all systems to get back to a 'ready' status. And because ready state is a requirement, the vehicle never even makes it past the first check.

But, unless you're currently trying to pass state emissions testing, none of this matters.to you. You actually WANT the code and the CEL to be there, in order for the Kia to be able to replace the cat under warranty.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
CEL was OFF (and had been OFF for several days, trips, 100s of miles). Disconnected the battery for several minutes. Drove for several miles and a few stops (engine OFF then ON). A OBD tool was connected. The P0420 code was STILL there. Why wasn't the P0420 code erased?
 

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Discussion Starter #15
UPDATE TO ORIGINAL POST

2013 Rio with 77,000 miles. Kia dealer performed a diagnostic. The P0420 I've been getting (repeatedly) for the last two weeks is ... in fact... due to a bad catalytic converter. Parts are on order; cat will be replaced in 2-3 days (when the parts come in) for free, under warranty.

$90.00 Diagnostic Fee (will not be charged because the repairs are under warranty)
$1,244.66 Manifold Catalytic A (1), 285102BEF1
$12.31 Gasket Exhaust Manifold (1), 285212B400
$7.30 Gasket Exhaust Pipe (1), 287513S000
$2.11 Nut (2), 1318012000
$???.?? Labor (they didn't quote the labor)
 

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Discussion Starter #16
UPDATE #2 TO ORIGINAL POST

2013 Rio with 77,000 miles. Code P0420. Kia dealer replaced catalytic converter for free under 8/80 Emissions Warranty.

  • $270.00 Labor (1.5 hours at $180.00/hour).
  • Now, the car is much less "boggy" when driving; more responsive to throttle than before; requires less pedal (gas pedal) to downshift.
  • Now getting 4-5 more MPG (miles per gallon) than before.
  • Mechanic confirmed that fuel trims prior to cat replacement were OK.
  • Root cause was a clogged catalytic converter.
 

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Thanks for posting your outcome, and good to read that it went smoothly for you. Being a DIYer, that $270 for labor makes me gag a bit, but obviously in case of a Fed cat warranty, there's no other option.
 

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Thanks for posting your outcome, and good to read that it went smoothly for you. Being a DIYer, that $270 for labor makes me gag a bit, but obviously in case of a Fed cat warranty, there's no other option.
He didn't have to pay the $270 labor, that's just what it would have cost. I had a cat replaced on a Chevy HHR we once owned under the federal emissions warranty. There is no cost to the customer.
 

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He didn't have to pay the $270 labor, that's just what it would have cost. I had a cat replaced on a Chevy HHR we once owned under the federal emissions warranty. There is no cost to the customer.
I've never been in that situation, and also had not read all of the details, so thanks for pointing that out. The way it was written made it sound like 270 paid, but he also wrote 'replaced for free', so yes I see now he was just showing what the labor was quoted at. Makes sense that's the way it should be, and very good outcome for the OP!
 

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Discussion Starter #20
UPDATE #3 TO ORIGINAL POST

To clarify: The cost to me was $0.00 (zero). All costs were covered by the 8/80 Emissions Warranty. The 3 costs that were covered by the warranty were:
  • $90.00 Diagnostic Fee
  • $1,266.38 Parts (detailed in Post #15)
  • $270.00 Labor (detailed in Post #16)
 
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