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May 16, 2012, 3:49 PM
Post #1 of 19 (8038 views)
2001 Buick LeSabre Custom 3.8 160k miles
has the infamous p0420 code. I have noticed decreased fuel efficiency (on average the last week its around 12 mpg.... yeah..)
I know the code points to the Cat not working efficiently or as it should, but I wanted to test the upstream o2 sensor first because that could explain the bad gas mileage.
It passed inspection last year only because the mechanic cleared the code and then let it slide. I decided to test the upstream o2 sensor first before shelling out 100's.
It seemed to be working fine: went up to 0.9 volts under high temps and went back down to under 0.1 volts very quickly in around 1-2 seconds. Seems pretty normal. BUT, the head of the o2 sensor was chalky white. Which is a tell tale sign of silicone contamination. I suppose this could lead to my cat being inefficient and thusly throwing the code.
The problem is: I read online that coolant has silicone in it. Last year I got a coolant flush and got it filled up. Since then, my coolant reservoir has gone from about 1/3-1/2 full to pretty much empty right now. Does it usually just go away like that? Could it be leaking into the engine somehow? Could this be put on the mechanic's (Sears..psh) fault? Did they mess it up somehow and make a leak?
I also have a pretty good (bad) power steering leak. I need to put a new bottle in about every 2 weeks or so. I ALSO have a slight oil leak too. The guy who owned the car before me said it just burns up as it drips off. I need to add a quart of oil every 3-4 months MAYBE. I haven't since probably last summer and it needed 2 quarts when I recently did add some.
The bottom of my car has a pretty decent layer of black tar/oil coating everything. including almost all of the hoses near the front axle. My car will leak (which I believe is power steering fluid) 100% of the time. No matter if I let it sit for an hour or 2 seconds. it is constantly dripping.
Should I test the downstream o2 sensor? (pain in the ass)