I have a 2017 vehicle that after 2,500 miles had the check engine light go on and went into limp mode. After 3 times in 2 different dealerships, it was diagnosed with a broken catalytic converter. I was told that it was installed that way on the assembly line.

During the time the dealer was diagnosing the problem, they said I had dirty, smelly oil. During the time that the catalytic converter was broken and the oil was dirty and smelly, could the engine have been damaged?

  • What is the make and model of this vehicle? What's the mileage?
    – tlhIngan
    Commented May 31, 2017 at 6:28
  • 2017 Chrysler Pacifica
    – irwin
    Commented Jun 2, 2017 at 4:23
  • 1
    I'd also try to verify if the cat really is the cause of the problem or just fell victim to an existing engine problem that, if not fixed, may cause the new cat to die soon too.
    – JimmyB
    Commented Jun 2, 2017 at 12:10
  • The catalytic converter is covered by the warranty for at least 2 years, possibly more. That is from the date the car went into service. (if it sat on a dealer lot for 6 months your warranty would still be 2 years, at least. Did you take your car to a Chrysler dealership or an independent shop? Did they do anything when they did this diagnosis or just button it back up and send you on your way?
    – Tim Nevins
    Commented Jun 25, 2018 at 21:53

1 Answer 1


In one word: no.

Catalytic converter

All the catalytic converter does is make your emissions environmentally friendly. There is a sensor near it (an oxygen sensor) that will give feedback to the computer about how clean the emissions are, and the computer will adjust a few things in the engine to keep the emissions clean. All a broken catalytic converter will do is make the engine run inefficiently, absolutely no damage can come from this.

Dirty Smelly Oil

Well, that's a new one. I've never heard of oil being dirty or smelly. Motor oil does have a faint smell to it, and I personally enjoy that smell. You have a brand new vehicle that is probably still on it's initial load of oil. The only concern would be if the wrong type of oil was used, as that could cause some damage. It is unlikely that the wrong oil was used, but it's not unheard of either. If you have any concerns, get an oil change.

  • 6
    Stating "absolutely no damage" can come from an bad cat is not quite accurate. It all depends on what the cat is doing. A cat which is plugged causes a huge amount of back pressure in the exhaust. When the engine is pressed after this, it can have damaging affects. I fixed a Dodge truck once which had a plugged cat which the owner kept pushing the engine. I had to replace the heads because one was cracked due to the abuse. This is a stretch, I get it, but stating it absolutely wouldn't happen would not be accurate. Commented May 31, 2017 at 10:49
  • I wonder if enough air/fuel mix blew by the rings and contaminated the oil
    – Mobius
    Commented May 31, 2017 at 15:24
  • Perhaps a combination of blow-by has put both contaminants into the oil and oil into that cat so the broken cat by be a symptom, not a root cause? Commented Jan 26, 2018 at 11:58
  • Toyota 1ZZ-FE engines have a history of being damaged by the first cat failing Commented Jun 27, 2018 at 16:14

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