$2K for emissions :(

Discussion in 'Emissions' started by Bruce, Aug 15, 2013.

  1. Bruce

    Bruce cheapskate

    I just got word from my mechanic this morning on the P0420 code the car has been throwing for at least a year. I was able to clean up enough with Seafoam and Techron to keep it off last year, but no luck this year.

    $2K+ for front pipe, cat, oxygen sensors, gaskets, labor and the inspection sticker. I can afford it, but it's such a huge hit to TCO it makes me wonder if I wouldn't have been better off financially with something that consumes twice as much fuel but doesn't have to pass emissions. Unfortunately, something that old would also be a fold-flatmobile with no airbags.

    Not to mention there are plenty of other states that don't have to deal with this. One example I'm aware of is Michigan, which supposedly has no annual safety or emissions inspection whatsoever.
  2. phoebeisis

    phoebeisis Well-Known Member

    Louisiana- has an inspection sticker
    but it is strictly "horn honks blinkers blink" inspection
    No inspection of emissions stuff
    $2000-roughly what the 99 Prism is worth-right?
  3. PaleMelanesian

    PaleMelanesian Beat the System Staff Member

    Ouch. I replaced my 96 Civic's one-piece manifold-cat myself, for about ~$200. Are you sure it needs ALL of those things done?
  4. Prozac

    Prozac Well-Known Member

    Considering the salt used in that area, I would guess that sounds about right. My parents live near Springfield and have to make sure that they wash the car and truck after a snow storm to stop the salt from killing them. Prior to doing that, we would replace exhausts and other under pinnings at an alarming rate.
  5. Yes, no inspections here, yet.
  6. EdwinTheMagnificent

    EdwinTheMagnificent Legend In His Mind

    Living here in Rust City , I've never had a cat fail because of it.
  7. Bruce

    Bruce cheapskate

    I looked on Craigslist...lots of $2K Corollas the same age, but the automatics are mostly 3-speeds with smaller wheels (lower FE), 50-100K more miles and probably in worse shape.

    The current exhaust (front pipe to tailpipe) is only a few years old; I tried to replace it myself last time but wasn't able to break bolts or wrestle out parts without an oxyacetylene setup and lift. I wound up taking the parts to a mechanic and having them installed, which was a bit humiliating.

    I think the total for parts and labor wound up significantly cheaper last time, but it's only lasted a few years and didn't include new oxygen sensors.

    When I last had the waveforms on the oxygen sensors checked a year ago, they checked out fine...but it was a take it or leave it. Get it fixed or you can't legally drive the car.

    I am a bit concerned that the hypermiling may be not be heating up the cat enough to burn off any oil the engine is consuming. Perhaps I need to go on a long drive once in a while or burn more fuel on my commute.

    I don't think the exhaust had any leaks. I wash it roughly monthly, as needed, and keep it in an unheated garage. It sounded like the cat's heat shield had started buzzing a little, but I didn't hear any other unusual noises like I had prior to the previous replacement.
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2013
  8. Prozac

    Prozac Well-Known Member

    Mainly it was mufflers and such. The risk you run from using things like SeaFoam is that the carbon build up generally runs right to the cat which can cause some issues. That and if was dumping addtional unburnt fuel due to the oxygen senson being bad it would kill the cat in a hurry.
  9. PaleMelanesian

    PaleMelanesian Beat the System Staff Member

    That could very well be true. Cars this age can and do have issues like that. If yours is known to burn oil, it's gotta go somewhere, and that somewhere is out the exhaust. I think your prescription is right on. I share the short-trip concern, with my primary commute being under 10 miles.
  10. Prozac

    Prozac Well-Known Member

    ^ Agreed, you might need to wait until the engine is warmed up fully before throwing the book at it.
  11. PaleMelanesian

    PaleMelanesian Beat the System Staff Member

    But... if I waited for it to be fully warm I would never have opportunity to throw the book at it. I'm willing to take the risk, but I know I am doing so. I do have at least once a week where I drive more, starting with a semi-warm engine, so it does see full temp frequently.
  12. Prozac

    Prozac Well-Known Member

    Understood. I happen to always find homes that are at least 16 miles away from work. Hazard of the trade. By the time I hit the highway I am usually fully warm and it at least gives me enough to get the cat up to operating temp and purge itself, so to speak.
  13. Bruce

    Bruce cheapskate

    I have a 15 mile commute...The water temp hits steady state after 4-5 miles, but who knows when the cat is up to temp, if ever. It's certainly at least warm enough to burn off any condensation from cold operation.

    Even though the water gets up to temp, I've often arrived at work (around dawn) with condensation on the hood.
  14. PaleMelanesian

    PaleMelanesian Beat the System Staff Member

    How many miles are on that car now?
  15. Bruce

    Bruce cheapskate

    155Kmi. This is the second cat I've put on since purchase at 102Kmi.

    The summer after high school, I met a guy whose transportation was always some $100 POS that he'd junk as soon as it stopped working. Maybe that's the cheapest way to go, but in this state you'd need to junk it as soon as the sticker expired.

    If you figure the gas I've saved is roughly $3/gal * 50Kmi * (1 gal/25 mi - 1 gal/40 mi) = $2.25K since vehicle purchase, the total amount I've paid for emissions has more than blown that savings away.
  16. RedylC94

    RedylC94 Well-Known Member

    ... If you assume the 1 gal/25mi alternative would've been problem-free.
  17. Bruce

    Bruce cheapskate

    I guess that's the best argument for a Prius; you're more or less guaranteed not to incur any additional TCO from hypermiling, because it's designed for it.

    This has been an expensive year despite doing my own maintenance -- $2K for pipes, $230 for a couple of tires and $500 for some minor brake work and rear stabilizer links and bushings. And I'm still left with the original suspension and steering, which is guaranteed to cr4p out in the next few years.
  18. ksstathead

    ksstathead Moderator

    This was an expensive year for our '10 Prius: $30 for the 3 wiper blade refills and $7 for 2 key fob batteries.

    Next year could be worse as the OEM tires are wearing down at 57,000 miles. And I may do the second tranny drain & fill next year, as well.
  19. brick

    brick Answers to "that guy."

    I lived in a state with no safety or emissions inspections for a while (SC). The number of poorly-running vehicles on the road was obvious from the nasty exhaust smell plus the guarantee that I'd be sitting in traffic if it rained thanks to someone with completely bald tires failing to negotiate a curve. I couldn't believe some of the junk people drove. Personally, I'll deal with the inconvenience of an annual inspection if it means I get to breathe cleaner air (which I really do) and don't have to be quite so concerned about a F-250 slamming into me because of some stupid mechanical fault that a technician would have seen coming.
  20. Bruce

    Bruce cheapskate

    Picked the car up last night.

    $86.40 diagnosis and estimate
    $207.36 remove and replace cat, front pipe, both 02 sensors, clear codes and perform drive cycle
    $29.00 state inspection sticker
    $2,078.96 gaskets, springs, bolts, front pipe, connector, cat, oxygen sensors, clamps and resonator/extension pipe
    $129.94 state sales tax

    $2,531.65 total.

    I talked to the tech; he claimed the aftermarket converter I'd had installed was undersized to keep costs down, which is why it hadn't lasted long (I looked through my records this morning, and it'd lasted about 25Kmi). He used OEM parts, which are more expensive but should presumably last 4-5 times as long (the original converter lasted to 125 Kmi).

    Also, he claimed the shop I'd used for the previous replacement had welded together the parts, presumably to make them fit, which required replacement of more parts than it should have otherwise.

    I spotted him filing a Chevy invoice with his paperwork but I only found the shop receipt after I took a look at the car. I went back and asked for a copy of the invoice; he refused, presumably because I would have been able to see the markup from the dealer invoice on my bill. So, he made money on both parts and labor. It would have been nice to be able to show the parts were OEM, since they increase resale value.

    My impression at this point is that hypermiling had little to do with the cat failure. It's more likely I did have failed oxygen sensors and that ruined an undersized cat as well.

    We all do the best we can. I'm up in the air on whether I'd go back to this place -- they did everything right and made it convenient, but it cost a ton of dough. Perhaps that's just the cost of doing business in an area with high incomes and costs of living.

    Lessons learned so far:

    - Don't go back to the first shop, since they hacked stuff together and left pine sap all over my car.

    - Shop around for expensive repairs, even if it means paying for an estimate and/or renting a car to get around. A Chevy or Toyota dealer may have been less expensive for this repair since the majority of the bill was for OEM parts and the dealer may have a lower markup.

    - A state certified emissions repair facility may be a better choice for documentation of expensive emissions repairs, since a waiver can be granted for emissions repair costs in excess of $640 (in my case) that still result in a failed emissions test.

    - Do whatever work I can myself, but I already do this anyway. Unfortunately, I can't do stuff that takes a lift or other expensive tools cost-effectively, and that's where the big bucks are.

    - Try to get major parts and repairs during a state sales tax holiday. We had one just recently between the times I replaced the tires and exhaust, but I didn't think of it as an occasion to schedule work on the car.

    - Use OEM or better quality parts when paying for labor to have parts installed to keep total labor costs down.

    - Don't put off repairs that snowball into bigger ones (I'm not sure if this happened or not).

    - There are more expensive, routine repairs than replacing the traction battery in a used Prius. Not that I'm planing to get one soon.
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2013

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