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Chevrolet Impala Catalytic Converter

gretchen4gretchen4 Posts: 6
edited March 2014 in Chevrolet
The car is a 2001 Chevy Impala LS. It has 61,330 miles.

This started yesterday on the freeway. It won't go over 35 mph or 3500 rpm in any of the four forward gears, even with the accelerator floored. I don't know about reverse gear.

When in 2nd gear, if you floor the accelerator, it will get up to 35 mph and 3500 rpm, and the Check Engine Light will blink on and off. When you slow down, the Check Engine Light goes off and stays off.

When in 3rd gear or drive, it still won't go over 35 mph or 3500 rpm, but the Check Engine Light does not come on.

If I'm in 3rd gear and shift down to 2nd gear, it's a hard shift. That is, you can feel the tranny engage hard.

Sometimes the car will buck when you try to reach 35 mph / 3500 rpm.

I took the car to my regular (non-dealer) mechanic. He said he put the scanner on it, and nothing showed up. I don't know if he drove the car and reproduced the 35mph/3500rpm/blinking Check Engine Light symptom while the scanner was connected (I forgot to ask). Since I gave him a good descrition of the problem, I doubt that he test drove it.

He told me that since he didn't get a code from the scanner, he called the local Chevy dealer for help. The Chevy dealer told him that it 'sounded' like the engine computer, and to bring the car to them.

I don't own an OBD2 scanner, so I can't diagnose myself, and even if I did, it sounds like a dealer repair. But, I'd like to be armed with more information before taking to the dealer, since I don't even trust the dealer to do much more than replace parts until it's fixed.

Any ideas?

By the way, if I were to purchase and OBD2 reader or scanner, can I connect a scanner (or reader) to the vehicle while driving the vehicle to capture the codes/specs when the problem occurs? Would the less expensive reader do, or must I purchase the more expensive scanner? I'm afraid that even if I get the information, such as voltage, pressure, etc., off a reader/scanner, I still won't know what to do with this Chevy, and I'm destined to take it to the dealer and will be at their mercy.

I haven't been to a dealer for years, because my normal mechanic is quite good. I just dread going to a dealer, not particularly because of cost, but because of hassles and stress, and not doing the job right the first time.

Thank you very much.


  • jimbmwjimbmw Posts: 3
    My daughter had EXACTLY the same problem with her 2004 Impala. The answer was replace the CATALYTIC CONVERTER. It gets plugged and produces excess back pressure, causing loss of power abover 35 MPH and yes the CHECK ENGINE LITE also came on , until you backed off the gas pedal. It should cost just under $500 for labor/mat'l.

    Good Luck.
  • quietproquietpro Posts: 702
    I've heard of the catalytic converter problem as well but that it is a defect that is covered for free. Ask about this and inquire about the free replacement. I thought it was with the 3800 engine but it may have affected more than just that engine.
  • gretchen4gretchen4 Posts: 6
    I've heard on another forum from someone who's Impala was a 2001, had 75,000 miles, and this problem was indeed the catalytic converter, and covered under warranty. Do you know if this problem is covered past the original 3 year, 50,000 mile warranty. I'm in California, and California may require that smog components be covered for longer than 50,000 miles, but I'm not sure. Do you know?
  • gretchen4gretchen4 Posts: 6
    I just checked my car's warranty. It says:

    "For 8 years or 80,000 miles, whichever comes first, if the catalytic converter or vehicle (powertrian) control module is found to be defective, GM will repair or replace it under the Federal Emission Control Warranty." :)

    Is the 'vehicle (powertrain) control module' otherwise known as the Engine Computer? At any rate, it does sound like the catalytic converter.

    I dropped it off at the dealer's shop tonight. I'll write back with the results.
  • topper7topper7 Posts: 8
    Hello Grethen4,
    I am the one that posted on the Chevrolet Impala 2005 & Earlier Discussion Section. Please look at posting 13377 dated 06/08/07. This references the warranty extension of the 2001 LS catalytic converter to 10 years or 120,000 miles (whatever comes first). The replacement is no charge. Not one penny!
    I did not have any problems at the dealer. I had forgot about the letter until they told me that it was covered under an extended warranty issued by GM.
    I then found the letter and typed it word for word on the Discussion Section so that others may benefit from it.
    Hope this clears up any confusion that you may have had. :)
  • gretchen4gretchen4 Posts: 6
    The dealer just called and said yes, it's the catalytic converter, and he has to order one (2-3 days, since they don't store them there, due to hazardous materials :( )

    I never received the warranty extension letter from GM, so I'm looking for your post 13377. When I enter 13377 in the message number and press go, I go nowhere. I'll keep looking.

    Thank you.
  • gretchen4gretchen4 Posts: 6
    Thanks again. :) I just found your post number 13377.

    (This forum is a bit difficult for me to navigate.)
  • slvimpalaslvimpala Posts: 14
    hey iv been reading about this catalytic converter problem my

    car acts the same as what yall had sad in the other post i got

    an 2002 Impala Base 3.4 v6 New Motor

    but on take off my car is very slow slow i mean it struggles

    to get reach 25 mph an at low speeds u can feel it cutting

    out and jerking and it kills my gas millage since the cat

    went out iv ben getting around 9.2 mpg i have to floor it

    97.9 % of the time to get it to even move faster then 30

    but once i get rolling it will run up to 115 mph i mean once

    it warms up it dose good on the high way i can put it to the

    floor and suck up to the car in front of me an pass them

    with out any problem but after i hammer it for a while it

    will display a light saying Reduces Engine Power

    i noticed with my old motor i was getting 24.8 mpg and thats

    everyday driven in the city

    also who ever has the 3.4 v6 watch out for over heating

    problems it only takes one time for it to over heat to

    start messing up very bad i over heated my 3400 once and

    about 3days later it blew the intanke & head gasket

    theres nothing you can do to stop so be ware and watch your temp gauge when my head blew it took 4 weeks for the whole motor to blow i mean it threw a rod threw the oil pan and on to my tires and the motor causen a fire and i spun the car out
  • 0patience0patience Oregon CoastPosts: 1,712
    "For 8 years or 80,000 miles, whichever comes first, if the catalytic converter or vehicle (powertrian) control module is found to be defective, GM will repair or replace it under the Federal Emission Control Warranty."

    This is correct. DO NOT let them tell you otherwise.
    The emissions warranty covers the ECM/PCM (computer) and some other emissions sensors. If the catalytic converter has failed and you are with in the 8 years/80,000 miles, then they have to cover it under warranty and you should not be paying a dime.
    Now, they can charge you for waste disposal fees, diagnostics and incidentals, so they have you there.

    The dealer just called and said yes, it's the catalytic converter, and he has to order one (2-3 days, since they don't store them there, due to hazardous materials).
    There are so many things wrong with that statement, I don't even know where to start. :confuse:
    In the first place, new catalytic converters are not classified as hazardous materials. Used ones, possibly, but not new ones. So who ever told you that is clueless.
    Besides, even if for some reason, the cat could possibly be hazardous material (which it is not), then I would have to assume that they couldn't keep bulk oil, coolant, brake cleaners, carb cleaners, A/C refrigerant, paints and a whole host of other automotive chemicals, as those ARE all hazardous materials.

    I sometimes wonder about some of these places and what they tell people. I'm betting that the reason that they don't stock the cats is cost. They don't want to put the expense out to keep something like that on the shelf.
  • slvimpalaslvimpala Posts: 14
    thats the problem but they said for some reason when they Ran My vin Code to see if it has been replaced in the past and it has been once b4 i brought the car that this Vin Coded Impala is risky for us to work on so there for we would have to charge you 88 to look at it and if the cat is the problem they will replace it for 100$ and funny thing is and i sorta jumped and Attuide with them is when they ran my Vin Code it showed at 88,558 Miles The Cat Was Replaced and i'm only at 120,997 right now so in the 32,409 Miles i put on it from Working and other stuff there isn't no warranty Gm needs to get there Selfs together and quit Milking Us out of our very hard earned money to get something fixed and yet 2 months later it breaks again costing us another 300$
  • 0patience0patience Oregon CoastPosts: 1,712
    Are you saying that you had the cat replaced 2 months ago and it is "broken" again??

    Please, if that is the case, you really need to find another place to work on your vehicle.
    Is this a dealer?
    If the cat was replaced 2 months ago, then the new installation has a new warranty.
  • gretchen4gretchen4 Posts: 6
    I dropped the car off on a Sunday night (Sunday night drop-off, had a 9:45 am Monday appointment) for diagnosis, and printed out and included, in the drop-off envelope, the replies that I had gotten from this and other forums about the symptoms pointing towards the catalytic converter. The dealer called early Monday morning and said they couldn't just take my diagnosis, and that they'd have to diagnose themselves, and needed authorization from me to do that. I thought this was unnecessary, since I wasn't expecting them to just replace the converter without confirming with their own test. I was just trying to help with the diagnosis, and I WANTED them to do their own testing. Besides, I had signed the boilerplate statement on the envelope. Anyway, I, of course said yes, go ahead and diagnose.
    Come late Monday, I still hadn't heard from them, so I called. They said they hadn't gotten to the car yet (then why did I have to schedule a 9:45 am Monday appointment?), because 3 mechanics (wrench turners) had not shown up. I'm starting to wonder what type of people they hire. The dealer told me he'd try to get to it Tuesday.
    Tuesday morning they called, said they were able to diagnose late Monday, and confirmed it needed a new catalytic converter, it was covered under warranty, and that they didn't store due to hazardous materials. It would take 2-3 days to get. I said ok.
    Wednesday afternoon dealer called and said car was ready to pick up! Guess they found a converter locally at another dealer. The entire job was free. He did try to sell me a 60,000 mile service package, but I said no.
    I suspect that you're right, that they don't keep large inventories due to cost, or, as a friend mechanic told me, catalytic converters are expensive, and some dealers don't store due to employee theft. Sounds a little over the top to me, though.
    I've had the car for 4 days now, and my daughter took it on a long trip into the mountains over the weekend (Lake Tahoe), and all went fine.
  • 0patience hey i read your post and the cat was replaced 3 months before i brought the car the cat didnt even show signs of going out till April 07 i brought the car July 1st 2006
    as for the dealer its a Chevrolet Dealership where i brought the car from they made it very clear if i get it worked on anywhere els they will not Fix it for the price they named
    plus when they ran my vin and the vin from my motor didnt match they had a damn cow talking about why isn't it matching what we have on file i said well sir the Stock motor Blew up as read in my 1st Blog and the motor i have in there now is and RM Motor a lil more power and etc etc then the stock one so im scaning a bill of all that was screwed up with my car from GM working on it

    Email me at [email protected] so i can send u that repair bill
  • Now Gm Is telling me theres nothing they can do for me on my cat problem because the car has 118,000 on it and at that millage the cat prob needs replacement so it will cost me 850 Plus Labor to fix it or D I Y
  • nosirrahgnosirrahg Little Rock, ARPosts: 872
    Not sure where you live or how strict emissions laws are where you live, but FWIW I just had a new exhaust system put on a 1980 El Camino from the headers back, including a new "universal" catalytic converter, muffler, and pipe (single exhaust) for $200 plus tax. Granted, we don't have any emissions tests to deal with where I live, so my biggest concern was having some type of catalytic converter on the vehicle period...but you might consider taking it somewhere other than a dealer and get an estimate. I don't know what percentage of my bill was for the cat versus everything else, but even if it costs you $200 just for the cat that beats $850 plus labor.
  • yea gm is [non-permissible content removed] but i live in txs and they dont do no test they hardly ever check them i mean they walk aroundthe car and then sit down and put a new tag on the window and tell u its done there are few places regaurdless of how good shape or anything is in will fail your car i had an 84 S10 Lng Bed 350 v8 brand new motor put it this way i redid the whole truck everything was after market new and they failed it saying theres and Vac Leak Funny thing was it didnt have it so yea
  • I told gm dealer in beaumont tx where i live that im taken them to Civil Court shown that they sold me a car 1 year ago with a 3 yr P T Warranty well when the heads and intake blew they said that i dont have one and even if i did that it was a consumer problems not a Faulty Part i had a along talk with them and told them that its something wrong with the motor because when it 1st started over heating i put a brand new rad in it new hoses water pump and then replaced my intake and heads and it still ran hot so they told me friday to bring th car in tuesday Mornin for the cat to be repalced so we will see
  • i paid to have my impala looked over and found that my EGR val

    is hung wide open and it floodin my cat with raw gas and fumes anyways they said they will replace the cat for free but every thing els whould be 1,386 $$ i nearly had a Heart attack when i heard that
  • I have a 2003 Impala. By and large, the car has been terrific. Today I was told I need a new cat converter. Apparently, this is not uncommon. What is uncommon is that my car has close to 200,000 miles. He said these usually wear out much earlier. Any thoughts on whether to fix it or time for new car? Thanks!
  • nosirrahgnosirrahg Little Rock, ARPosts: 872
    My only suggestion is to look into independent muffler shops in your area and see if they might be able to install an aftermarket generic cat versus an exact factory replacement. I've seen quotes from dealers of $800 for a new cat, whereas I recently had a complete exhaust system put on my 1980 El Camion starting at the headers and going all the way to the back bumper (pipe, cat, muffler, labor and taxes) for $215. Granted the Impala is newer and due to all the smog controls a generic cat might not work...but it if will you could definitely save a chunk of change (and maybe get a few more years/miles out of your car).
  • hey guy notta new the car has just been sitting in the yard it wont stay runnen now i went ahead and changed the fuel pumps and injectors and put full tank of Shell V-Power Gas put 2 weeks ago i droped the pipes off the front of the motor and unplug the egr vavle and oh look at that baby ran like a brand new car pushing 90 mph in a 30 looking like a cop flying down the road
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