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Old 09-04-2012, 07:09 PM   Thread Starter #1
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Default P0420 Code

Help!! Took the o6 max for a road trip over the weekend, NY to NC to be exact; And long story short I went and came back with ONLY 1 speeding ticket (80 in a 70 in VA) and for the first time since i purchased my max, a SES light. took it to get checked, came back with the code P0420. Car drove well for the whole trip, no sulfur smell, gas mileage was normal, I felt a bit of loss of power, but nothing substantial. <-Could just be all in my head. Oh and one last thing, the light came on while i stopped in VA to fill up. When i left the gas station about a half a mile down the SES light came on, i got out to check the gas cap and it was a bit loose; I tightened it and was hoping this would solve the SES light but it turned out to be that code.

Just wondering what i should do next? Because, I've heard stories of the cat ruining the engine if left unfixed cry4:


any info would be greatly appreciated. dont wanna drive my max with a#yolo mentality.
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Old 09-04-2012, 07:17 PM   #2
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Default Re: P0420 Code

Replace cats with aftermarket. Either racingline or ebay. Those eventually fail too. You can also hollow out the cats or just get oem
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Old 09-04-2012, 07:54 PM   #3
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Default Re: P0420 Code

Before you go and replace cat or cats you should diagnose the Bank1 downstream (post cat) oxygen sensor for which the code is for.

Take the vehice to a reputable shop and have the techs look at live data stream of the switching frequency of the rear o2 sensors. Paying close attention to Bank1 in comparison to Bank2 rear sensor.

When you get a code for a downstream oxygen sensor(CAtalyst efficiency) it can mean a couple things.

1. Your oxygen sensor is not switching properly( either lazy or stuck low or high) they need to switch quickly, meaning the oxygen sensor needs to communicate its values to ECM from less then 0.3v to over o.6v @ around steady application of 2500 RPM with the engine warmed up and in closed loop.

2. Your catalytic converter is failing and does not provide enough temperature for chemical reaction to take place.

3. weak spark in one of the Bank 1 cylinders not burning all the mixture properly( either due to a coil or sparkplug)

4. Intake leak, and or Exhaust leak. More oxygen is entering the system and therefore is measured by o2 sensor. (EGR is ON Bank1 and could be slightly open, although I doubt that as this would send a missfires code most likely and the engine would be running a little rough where as you stated Its running smooth.

5. Fuel injector/s problem on Bank1. Leaking injection or injecor is open for a slightly longer duration (pulse) as it can't close fast enough and is adding extra fuel and lowering oxygen content on Bank1, which could trigger the code.

If you want to have a crack at it, swap the rear sensors from Bank1 to Bank2 and vise versa. Clear the codes and drive around till you get a CEL. If code P0420 comes back, chances are you might need a cat.... If P0430 appears you need a oxygen sensor....
Hope this helps.
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Old 09-06-2012, 06:22 PM   #4
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Default Re: P0420 Code

Originally Posted by BurntOrangeAppeal View Post
Before you go and replace cat or cats you should diagnose the Bank1 downstream (post cat) oxygen sensor for which the code is for.

Take the vehice to a reputable shop and have the techs look at live data stream of the switching frequency of the rear o2 sensors. Paying close attention to Bank1 in comparison to Bank2 rear sensor.

When you get a code for a downstream oxygen sensor(CAtalyst efficiency) it can mean a couple things.

1. Your oxygen sensor is not switching properly( either lazy or stuck low or high) they need to switch quickly, meaning the oxygen sensor needs to communicate its values to ECM from less then 0.3v to over o.6v @ around steady application of 2500 RPM with the engine warmed up and in closed loop.

2. Your catalytic converter is failing and does not provide enough temperature for chemical reaction to take place.

3. weak spark in one of the Bank 1 cylinders not burning all the mixture properly( either due to a coil or sparkplug)

4. Intake leak, and or Exhaust leak. More oxygen is entering the system and therefore is measured by o2 sensor. (EGR is ON Bank1 and could be slightly open, although I doubt that as this would send a missfires code most likely and the engine would be running a little rough where as you stated Its running smooth.

5. Fuel injector/s problem on Bank1. Leaking injection or injecor is open for a slightly longer duration (pulse) as it can't close fast enough and is adding extra fuel and lowering oxygen content on Bank1, which could trigger the code.

If you want to have a crack at it, swap the rear sensors from Bank1 to Bank2 and vise versa. Clear the codes and drive around till you get a CEL. If code P0420 comes back, chances are you might need a cat.... If P0430 appears you need a oxygen sensor....
Hope this helps.
Hey BurntOrange maybe you can help me out as well i too am currently getting a p0420 code. You actually helped me diagnose my p1283 code back in May. Well I replaced that Bank 2 sensor back in May, i reset the ECU and the code came back a couple miles later, then I did the idle relearn process and never got that code again. About a month after that I started to get the p0420 code, I've reset it 3 times so far it comes back every 700 miles or so I've noticed. I dont really get the rotten egg smell, i think ive smelled that maybe 4 times in the last 4 months. I went to a mechanic who said the cats may be being overworked due to me running the tank next to empty and that I should get fuel cleaner and maintain atleast a 1/4 of a tank. Im just curious to know if changing that first sensor might have had anything to do with the current p0420 code.

Honestly if I need new precats ill just get rid of the car. I cant deal anymore, i need the timing chain job which is already expensive as it is and now this? im hearing each cat is 700 then id have to pay to get em installed haha oh man i cant deal.
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Old 09-06-2012, 06:27 PM   #5
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Default Re: P0420 Code

What does the tank being low have to do with it?

I would like to hear an explanation on that one
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Old 09-06-2012, 06:57 PM   #6
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Default Re: P0420 Code

Originally Posted by 06BlckMax View Post
What does the tank being low have to do with it?

I would like to hear an explanation on that one
He said something about the cat might have to work harder because air might be getting through something to that effect. I cant remember verbatim. But he said running on low gas makes the cat work harder and something about air or oxygen. I honestly cant completely remember lol that was a few months ago
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Old 09-06-2012, 07:04 PM   #7
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Default Re: P0420 Code

Originally Posted by kemoblue4u View Post
Hey BurntOrange maybe you can help me out as well i too am currently getting a p0420 code. You actually helped me diagnose my p1283 code back in May. Well I replaced that Bank 2 sensor back in May, i reset the ECU and the code came back a couple miles later, then I did the idle relearn process and never got that code again. About a month after that I started to get the p0420 code, I've reset it 3 times so far it comes back every 700 miles or so I've noticed. I dont really get the rotten egg smell, i think ive smelled that maybe 4 times in the last 4 months. I went to a mechanic who said the cats may be being overworked due to me running the tank next to empty and that I should get fuel cleaner and maintain atleast a 1/4 of a tank. Im just curious to know if changing that first sensor might have had anything to do with the current p0420 code.

Honestly if I need new precats ill just get rid of the car. I cant deal anymore, i need the timing chain job which is already expensive as it is and now this? im hearing each cat is 700 then id have to pay to get em installed haha oh man i cant deal.
Or you can replace BOTH CATS with HFPC's for around $600 and have them installed. I got the the P0420 code earlier this year and I bought the HFPC's, just waiting to have them installed now.
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Old 09-06-2012, 09:12 PM   #8
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Default Re: P0420 Code

Originally Posted by kemoblue4u View Post
Hey BurntOrange maybe you can help me out as well i too am currently getting a p0420 code. You actually helped me diagnose my p1283 code back in May. Well I replaced that Bank 2 sensor back in May, i reset the ECU and the code came back a couple miles later, then I did the idle relearn process and never got that code again. About a month after that I started to get the p0420 code, I've reset it 3 times so far it comes back every 700 miles or so I've noticed. I dont really get the rotten egg smell, i think ive smelled that maybe 4 times in the last 4 months. I went to a mechanic who said the cats may be being overworked due to me running the tank next to empty and that I should get fuel cleaner and maintain atleast a 1/4 of a tank. Im just curious to know if changing that first sensor might have had anything to do with the current p0420 code.

Honestly if I need new precats ill just get rid of the car. I cant deal anymore, i need the timing chain job which is already expensive as it is and now this? im hearing each cat is 700 then id have to pay to get em installed haha oh man i cant deal.
I dont know how else I can help you. As per my post you quoted, swap the rear sensors and see if the code comes back as either P0420 or P0430.
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Old 09-25-2012, 05:24 PM   #9
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Default Re: P0420 Code

Originally Posted by BurntOrangeAppeal View Post
I dont know how else I can help you. As per my post you quoted, swap the rear sensors and see if the code comes back as either P0420 or P0430.
I love your explanation in this thread. I have the same problem. Can you give me some feedback on what can be done, since mine has a little twist to it?

My Service Engine Soon light just came up too this morning. This sucks!!! The code that came up is P0420 like you guys. Not only that, but when I am on the gas and doing about 40mph or so and let off the gas, the car suddenly jerks a little and car feels as if it was a manual transmission down shifting.

Will replacing this O2 sensor fix this problem? Or should I buy a new cat like the HFPC? I hope I am not jacking this thread. I just have the same code with a slight variation on how the car feels when I let go the gas pedal.
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Old 09-25-2012, 08:00 PM   #10
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Default Re: P0420 Code

Originally Posted by PetitFrereMaxima View Post
I love your explanation in this thread. I have the same problem. Can you give me some feedback on what can be done, since mine has a little twist to it?

My Service Engine Soon light just came up too this morning. This sucks!!! The code that came up is P0420 like you guys. Not only that, but when I am on the gas and doing about 40mph or so and let off the gas, the car suddenly jerks a little and car feels as if it was a manual transmission down shifting.

Will replacing this O2 sensor fix this problem? Or should I buy a new cat like the HFPC? I hope I am not jacking this thread. I just have the same code with a slight variation on how the car feels when I let go the gas pedal.
According to Nissans FSM explanations,The rear o2 sensors do NOT affect performance. Its related to emissions and catalytic converter efficiency.

So In essence I'm afraid changing this sensor will not cure your symptom ( what might be an electronic engine mount or transmission issue) leaning more toward transmission, but them again its an assumption on my part as I'm doing this over the net, and not diagnosing a vehicle symptoms first hand...

Change the sensor then you can move to the next area.
P0420 is for Bank1 sensor (firewall bank)
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Old 12-15-2012, 01:37 PM   #11
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Default Re: P0420 Code

Originally Posted by BurntOrangeAppeal View Post
According to Nissans FSM explanations,The rear o2 sensors do NOT affect performance. Its related to emissions and catalytic converter efficiency.

So In essence I'm afraid changing this sensor will not cure your symptom ( what might be an electronic engine mount or transmission issue) leaning more toward transmission, but them again its an assumption on my part as I'm doing this over the net, and not diagnosing a vehicle symptoms first hand...

Change the sensor then you can move to the next area.
P0420 is for Bank1 sensor (firewall bank)
I just wanted to hi first of all. My name is chris. I had an issue with my SES light coming on. I have a 2006 maxima se. the light had been on for awhile and I got tired of it. i had a friend hook me up with his buddy that had a 8000 snap-on wireless scanner. Four codes came up say my heater circuit volts were low. i put a fuse in and he cleared it. everything was running to specs. it has 125000 miles on it. he said if it comes on again it more than likely be the p0420 code. He was right it was catalyst below threshold. i replaced my PCV valve and cleared the code. it was dirty. High test and lucas fuel tereatment and she is running smooth as a glass table top. just wanted to throw that out there if it helps anyone. he said that the unburnt fuel was get trapped and then going out the exhaust which in turn made the o2's call for the p0420 code when the dirty fumes went through it. Many told me to replace the firewall cat but I had my doubts. Maintain air filter oil filter and gas and you should be pretty good on the sentimental ECU.
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Old 12-15-2012, 06:20 PM   #12
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Default Re: P0420 Code

Originally Posted by chrisstew14 View Post
I just wanted to hi first of all. My name is chris. I had an issue with my SES light coming on. I have a 2006 maxima se. the light had been on for awhile and I got tired of it. i had a friend hook me up with his buddy that had a 8000 snap-on wireless scanner. Four codes came up say my heater circuit volts were low. i put a fuse in and he cleared it. everything was running to specs. it has 125000 miles on it. he said if it comes on again it more than likely be the p0420 code. He was right it was catalyst below threshold. i replaced my PCV valve and cleared the code. it was dirty. High test and lucas fuel tereatment and she is running smooth as a glass table top. just wanted to throw that out there if it helps anyone. he said that the unburnt fuel was get trapped and then going out the exhaust which in turn made the o2's call for the p0420 code when the dirty fumes went through it. Many told me to replace the firewall cat but I had my doubts. Maintain air filter oil filter and gas and you should be pretty good on the sentimental ECU.
Welcome Chris.
As interesting as your theory is, unfortunately I totally disagree (your code will come back)and your claims begs me to ask a few questions.
If you feel that PCV is responsible for P0420 then how do you explain these so called crank case fumes getting re-circulated and triggering only a P0420 and not P0420, P0430. The fumes go back into the intake track and both downstream o2 sensors should be picking this up....?
Secondly, where is this unburnt fuel being trapped?
There is no doubt that most Maxima owners disregard changing the PCV valve, and it should be changed more frequently then what the maintenance schedule calls for IMO, and since for most diy's it takes the removal of the windshield wiper cowl to replace the PCV, there is no need to test it IMO, just replace the PCV at 10 dollar cost. It might test good this week and get plugged/stuck open 3 weeks later and you will be going in there again.
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Old 12-15-2012, 07:33 PM   #13
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Default Re: P0420 Code

Damnn this is a free for all on code P0420 . I had the same code in the X Type turned out to be a intake manifold leak .
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Old 12-15-2012, 09:55 PM   #14
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Default Re: P0420 Code

Originally Posted by BurntOrangeAppeal View Post
Welcome Chris.
As interesting as your theory is, unfortunately I totally disagree (your code will come back)and your claims begs me to ask a few questions.
If you feel that PCV is responsible for P0420 then how do you explain these so called crank case fumes getting re-circulated and triggering only a P0420 and not P0420, P0430. The fumes go back into the intake track and both downstream o2 sensors should be picking this up....?
Secondly, where is this unburnt fuel being trapped?
There is no doubt that most Maxima owners disregard changing the PCV valve, and it should be changed more frequently then what the maintenance schedule calls for IMO, and since for most diy's it takes the removal of the windshield wiper cowl to replace the PCV, there is no need to test it IMO, just replace the PCV at 10 dollar cost. It might test good this week and get plugged/stuck open 3 weeks later and you will be going in there again.
Well it was just a theory. Just thinking out loud. I was just trying to talk it out.
My light did come back on today after being cleared. Me and my friend are going to
Scan her again. This time more test. Everything was at the right limits and percentage
So I don't understand. I do have a firewall catalyst ready to install. Just trying to learn about my car so maybe I could help others. Thanks.
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Old 12-15-2012, 09:56 PM   #15
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Default Re: P0420 Code

Originally Posted by chrisstew14 View Post
Well it was just a theory. Just thinking out loud. I was just trying to talk it out.
My light did come back on today after being cleared. Me and my friend are going to
Scan her again. This time more test. Everything was at the right limits and percentage
So I don't understand. I do have a firewall catalyst ready to install. Just trying to learn about my car so maybe I could help others. Thanks.
By the way you're right about getting plugged again. It makes sense.
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