Update on the smogging saga: the final chapter

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This is slightly overdue, and I know all of you were holding your breath waiting for results. ; P

Last week, we went to J&K Muffler in Redding to get our catalytic converter replaced. The co-owner, Jay, was the very helpful man that I spoke to when this whole dilemma first began. We explained to them when making the appointment that we live in the RV, and have pets, and how important it would be that we weren’t without the RV all day long. We were assured “We keep our appointments” and also that the part was in stock. We were quoted a price of just under $340.

When we arrived (slightly early), we unloaded the dogs and turned over the key. We walked to the end of the block for a doggie bathroom break, which probably took about 10 minutes. When we were done, we passed by the shop and they had already taken the motorhome, loaded it onto the lift and were working on it. This was definitely a good sign, as the other repair shop had our RV for about 4 1/2 hours before they even moved it.

We went down the street and sat in a nice grassy area under a tree. It was relatively comfortable despite the 90+ temperatures. After about an hour, we walked back to the shop. The motorhome was off the lift and the paperwork was just being finished up.

The slightly scary news was that the old catalytic converter was “melted,” which apparently happens when the exhaust running through it is too hot. While the replacement went fine, Jay was concerned that the new cat might have the same failure if whatever was causing the exhaust problem was not fixed. He knew we were going to be travelling hundreds of miles soon and wanted to make sure we were safe, but this was outside his area of expertise. He recommended a shop where he took his own cars. He even called them and told them what was going on, and they said they could fit us in right away for a diagnostic. Oh, and by the way–our bill came out to under $300. How he managed that, I’m not sure, but I don’t think I’ve ever had an auto repair come in under estimate before!

We drove to another part of town to the mechanic Jay recommended. They were very friendly and saw us immediately. One of the technicians came inside with his diagnostic computer thingy, plugged in and checked us out. He said that everything came back fine. He said it’s common for GM catalytic converters to fail (our engine is a Chevy), and that he had checked the 2 possible reasons why it would fail. One was the O2 sensor. I can’t remember the other. Everything looked good. He said next time we get an oil change that we might want to have them double-check things, but otherwise we should not have any additional problems, and with the new catalytic converter in place, passing smog should not be an issue. They didn’t even charge us for the diagnostic.

Friday morning, we motored out to Shasta Community College, where the referee is located. Again, we met a very nice and efficient man who started working immediately. He informed us that there was no charge for the testing, only for the smog certificate. The boys got to play on the grass in the shade while we waited. And…we passed! Not only that, but the referee explained that when he put the sticker on the engine, he did not specify which catalytic converter was the after-market part. That way, if the other one ever failed and that part is still available, we could simply replace it using the same letter, and without having to go through the referee again. He informed us that the sticker would alert any certified smog technician that an approved part was in use, and we would not have to go back to the referee again. We paid our $8.25 for the smog certificate. got our paper copy (the results were already electronically submitted to the DMV), and we were on our way to the coast.

It took awhile, some frustration, and some money, but we got our happy ending to this story. =)

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