Someone please help!!

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My 1996 Ford Windstar has failed aircare due to high NOx emissions. I have already tried the stupid tricks that BTW, DONT WORK. Anyway, the mechanic told me its the cat converter. He also told me it will
be $900 for me to fix it.
His explanation was that FORD has put two cat converters into the windstar and that the Universal cat converter cannot be installed. He said there was actually room for a third cat converter that he could install and that would be $200 plus labour...seems a little fishy to me to install a third to clean up what the two arent doing, but w/e.
Apparently he has cleaned up the valves (something to do with the EGR), that the EGR itself was fine and my Ox sensors were also working fine. It has to be the cat converter he says.
So now, I am a mother with 4 children 6 and under and NO VEHICLE because I cant pass aircare and I have a mechanic who wants to mark up the parts my van needs. Can someone please tell me if the universal cat converter can actually be installed (if it cant then why would they make it?!?!?!). Its a 3.8L, automatic transmission, a/c 1996 Ford Windstar.
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If it were me I would take the vehicle to a combatant shop, with the proper diagnostic equipment, that can determines WHY the CAT NEEDS to be cleaning things up. Apparently he CAT is trying to do more than that for which it was designed. Obviously the fuel/air is operating outside of the design specs, if the CAT can not clean up the exhaust. The problem could be as simple as a bad plug or two.

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Mike hunt wrote:

What is a combatant shop? Is that where you buy guns and rent Army tanks?
with the proper

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I'm sure that guy I was replying to understood, but thanks to guys like you I never need to waste my valuable time proof reading. If my automatic spell checker does not catch it I can count on you to explain it to the other slow minded hat didn't get it. ;)

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Mike hunt wrote:
If it were me I would take the vehicle to a combatant shop... __________________________________________________
Jeff wrote:
What is a combatant shop? Is that where you buy guns and rent Army tanks? __________________________________________________
"Mike hunt" wrote:
I'm sure that guy I was replying to understood. I never need to waste my valuable time proofreading. I count on guys like you you to explain it to the other slow minded that didn't get it. ;) _________________________________________________
Mike Hunt must be a god here. His admirers hang on his every word, phrase, and sentence, searching for an error, a contradiction or a spinnable nuance, then race each other to crow their discovery to the world.
Rodan.
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wrote:

Nope, just an incoherent moron with lots of tall tales but no credibility.
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I'd like to see if Mike Hunt even knows the word that fits properly in that sentence and turns it into an erudite thought. "Combatant" isn't it - and nobody else help him.
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"Jim Warman" wrote:

That should be "Mike's". :-P
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"My car wont 'crank'". To some, this means the motor wont turn over... to others it means the motor will turn over but it wont start..."
That one drives me absolutly nuts!!!!! You get a call on the phone and your wife says, " it won't turn over". So, you say, " You turn the key and nothing happens?" Yeah, "Something happens .. the motor makes that sound." You say, "OK, so, let me get this straight .. you turn the key and the motor turns over but just won't start, right?" "And not only won't it turn over, but I hear a clicking sound sometimes." "You mean when trying to start it?" "No, that was when I started it up this morning in the driveway, but it quit a few minutes later." "So, is it still doing it?" "No, not now, while I'm trying to get it to turn over."
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She should look for guns and knives and an owner with a black eye?

That's what catalytic converters do. However; that is NOT what guns and knives do.

It's not obvious at all unless you see some test numbers in her post that I don't.

Gee, you'd think she would have mentioned the rough running symptom.
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As odd as it may sound, customers are, all to often, the cause of wasted time (and therefore expense) because they tend to leave things out. (I have no idea if they are hoping for a cheaper invoice by minimizing the concern, but it sounds plausible). The tech can get into a diagnosis that starts with some extreme basics only to discover that there is "something" the owner hasn't mentioned. If we ask why they didn't say the car had done <this> or does <that> too, the reply is usually "I didn't think it mattered". And this happens nearly every day and even several times in one day... It isn't the tech deciding how much a repair is going to cost, it is the car. The tech is simply the messenger.
FWIW, an engine misfire is going to have a greater effect on HC and CO production than it will on NOx production.
Any condition that can drive combustion temps up, will increase NOx production. However, misfires can destroy the converter... The resulting meltdown may or may not restrict the exhaust flow.
For the original poster... While I am not familiar with "universal" type catalytic converters, these "fits all" devices aren't accurately sized for any particuaar applications (neither physically nor in their ability to deal with exhaust flow and/or byproducts). I've often seen owners treated to added expense because the less costly alternative didn't quite make the grade (I think you'll find that these aftermarket suppliers will only offer a "replacement" warranty rather than a money back warranty).
BEFORE the cat is replaced, it is crucial that the EGR (exhaust gas recirculation) system be thoroughly tested to ensure that it is functioning as required. Depending on the engine in your Windstar, it may have a "ported EGR" type system. These small passages can become plugged with carbon, robbing some cylinders of EGR flow and causing higher than normal NOx numbers. Extreme cases can result in a car that has a rough idle concern or even a stumble on acceleration but it can often go un-noticed, as well. It can take a fairly talented tech to accurately diagnose this system.

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Every once in a while one of the spark plugs falls out and I have to put it back in, but other than that the idle seems to be fine. Im not sure what misfiring is but I assume to someone like myself it would just run "rough". Occasionally, it does, then I restart it and its fine.
The mechanic is " aircare certified" which means he has a gas analyzer and a relatively good record for repairs relating to aircare. He said the EGR and system is fine, although on the invoice it says he repaired vacume leak. Apparently he cleaned out the "ports" that can build up causing high NOx emissions. The only explanation I got was everything else works the way its supposed to so my cat converter is shot.
I dont think hes neccesarily wrong, the head gasket went on my van prior to me purchasing it, a new engine was put in...Ive replaced two transmissions...a radiator...a couple batteries, an alternator, the berring on the front right 2 or 3 times now...
Ive owned this car for 3-4 years.
I am frequently asked if my engine light is on, its not. For the most part the vehicle seems to run relatively smooth. My dash lights are out, not sure if its electrical or just the bulbs, and frankly I dont have the money for a technician to figure it out.
I have bad luck with mechanics, they always try to scam me...its really quite frusterating, I may not know about vehicles but Im not stupid. I did a little checking around for parts and I can get a ford cat converter locally for $500. The mechanic wanted $628 for his, tried telling me that his distributor is giving him a discount on this price...which is BS because I called the same person he did and without a discount on the part is $500 and some change.
If it will help...here are the numbers. I did two tests...
Day 1:
HC (g/km), max allowed 0.5000, vehicle reading 0.3193, avg pass 0.0873
CO (g/km), max allowed 8.0800, vehicle reading 2.8459, avg pass 1.9758
NOx (g/km) Max allowed 1.1200, vehicle reading 1.4698, avg pass 0.6229
I was advised to put fuel injecrot cleaner into my tank and premium fuel, then drive to heat up the cat...drove for over an hour
Day 2:
HC (g/km), Max allowed 0.5000, vehicle reading 0.2357, avg pass 0.0873
CO (g/km), Max allowed 8.0800, vehicle reading 2.3989, avg pass 1.9758
NOx (g/km), Max allowed 1.1200, vehicle reading 1.6969, avg pass 0.6229
"Jim Warman" wrote: > As odd as it may sound, customers are, all to often, the cause > of wasted > time (and therefore expense) because they tend to leave things > out. (I have > no idea if they are hoping for a cheaper invoice by minimizing > the concern, > but it sounds plausible). The tech can get into a diagnosis > that starts with > some extreme basics only to discover that there is "something" > the owner > hasn't mentioned. If we ask why they didn't say the car had > done <this> or > does <that> too, the reply is usually "I didn't think it > mattered". And this > happens nearly every day and even several times in one day... > It isn't the > tech deciding how much a repair is going to cost, it is the > car. The tech is > simply the messenger. > > FWIW, an engine misfire is going to have a greater effect on > HC and CO > production than it will on NOx production. > > Any condition that can drive combustion temps up, will > increase NOx > production. However, misfires can destroy the converter... The > resulting > meltdown may or may not restrict the exhaust flow. > > For the original poster... While I am not familiar with > "universal" type > catalytic converters, these "fits all" devices aren't > accurately sized for > any particuaar applications (neither physically nor in their > ability to deal > with exhaust flow and/or byproducts). I've often seen owners > treated to > added expense because the less costly alternative didn't quite > make the > grade (I think you'll find that these aftermarket suppliers > will only offer > a "replacement" warranty rather than a money back warranty). > > BEFORE the cat is replaced, it is crucial that the EGR > (exhaust gas > recirculation) system be thoroughly tested to ensure that it > is functioning > as required. Depending on the engine in your Windstar, it may > have a "ported > EGR" type system. These small passages can become plugged with > carbon, > robbing some cylinders of EGR flow and causing higher than > normal NOx > numbers. Extreme cases can result in a car that has a rough > idle concern or > even a stumble on acceleration but it can often go un-noticed, > as well. It > can take a fairly talented tech to accurately diagnose this > system. >
> > > > > Gee, you'd think she would have mentioned the rough running > symptom.
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Ignore Mike Hunt, he thinks he knows about auto repair.

He shouldn't be guessing in that he can measure the NOx -before- the cat and compare the readings to the post cat sample to determine whether the reducing bed is working as it should.

Coolant will poison a catalytic converter.

Neither price sound legitimate. My parts look up lists Ford part number F68Z-5F250-AAD catalytic converter assembly with a list price of $1447.80

Looks to have control of fuel, HC isn't high so there's probably no misfire.

NOx went up. Stop dumping magic elixir in the tank.
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Sounds like you have a reasonable and acceptable diagnosis. You are under no obligation to have that shop complete the repair. You should pay him for the labor and diagnostic services he as already rendered and go out to the yellow pages and call about 5 smog and or muffler repair shops. Ask them if the description of the problem and other shop's solution sounds reasonable (i.e how its better to add a third than replace the original) and of course, how much would they charge to fix it. Compare those quotes to your original shop and give it to the one you can trust and afford it may be the original shop. If the diagnosis is correct, anyone can finish the job.
Your mechanic's shop labor rate and markup are what they are and he uses those guidelines to quote his repair. His quote is not BS, he may have more overhard to support, give a better warranty, use new parts etc that may justify a higher price. If he choses to give a discount on labor, that would be nice but he is not obligated. Just look for another shop to do the repair but few places will let you give them parts to put in. For example, if you come in with a cat converter (of whatever source) and insist they install it and then later you still fail smog check (that's what we call aircare in CA) then you may not want to pay him but you should. You may claim that it was a wrong diagnosis and the only way to prove it would be to replace the cat again with a reliable source, an obvoiusly inefficient and painful course.
Frankly, it sounds like you need a new vehicle but I understand economics may not allow that. It may be that two or more things have failed based on the repair history. A new engine throws a lot of variables into why the CAT failed in the first place.

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functioning
"ported
or
It's pretty simple to check if a ported egr system is clogged, just actuate the EGR valve at idle, if the engine does not change speed and the valve is good, the ports are plugged. What requires a talented tech is when the ports are NOT plugged, and the valve IS good, and there are no vacuum leaks and the EGR valve is still not actuating.
Unfortunately, the real problem here is that in so many of these smog check things, a lot of mekaniks* have discovered if you slap a new, universal cat in there, it's typically a NOX and HC reducing cat - and it will get them past the smog check - then 6 months later when the universal is burned out because the underlying problem with the engine was never corrected, if the customer comes back the mekanik* just replaces the universal with straight pipe and gets his $100 from the catcon recycling people. Then they are good for another 2 years until the next smog check, and by then since the engine was never fixed properly, it's likely died and the car is in a wrecking yard.
The OP didn't say the mileage on this van but it's probably not been maintained, and the rings are worn and the thing is burning oil. The car probably also has high HC's which they are masking with the usual trick of throwing a couple cans of drygas into the tank. The mekanik* is probably figuring the van is about at the end of it's life and will go any day.
Ted
* mekanik: hayseed pretending to be a real mechanic.
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Good post Jim.
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On Sun, 18 May 2008 12:35:11 -0500, aarcuda69062

And a bad plug, or 2 or even 6 will NOT make high NOX.
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So monkfish; what makes you an authority on cat converters? It's clear you do not know what is going on. If something simple like a bad plug or two was the problem, I' sure the technician diagnosing the problem would notice. See a bad plug or two is manifest with what is called an engine miss, which the average driver would say it runs rough. The technician would then be going down a different diagnostic path.
Why aren't you asking stupid questions that have no meaning like you do in other groups groups?
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wrote:

I assume you mean COMPETENT shop. I suspect the one she is using IS competent, and the reduction bed of the factory cat is dead. Adding a reduction bed cat would likely solve the problem, for now - but it really should have the "3 way" catalyst replaced. The reduction cat will not work properly if too far from the manifold as it needs to run hot, The oxydation bed of the 3 way cat makes sure the reduction bed runs hot enough to function.

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I suspect it is NOT competent or they would be looking to determine WHY it is not doing its job rather than simply suggesting it be replaced... I would take it to a shop that made that determination first, but that's just me
<clare at snyder dot ontario dot canada> wrote in message

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