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Hi everyone I am new to the forum. I have a 97 Ford Taurus (3.0 ohv) with 137,982 miles. I love this car have never had a problem with it. I purchased it from good friends who told me that the check engine light was always on but it wasn't something that could cause me to have driving problems.

I am getting ready to do a 500 mile drive and I went through the normal tune up procedures...oil change, spark plugs, air filter, fuel filter, etc. Well after doing all of that my check engine light (which as i said is usually always on) started flashing, this alarmed me so i took it to auto zone to have them do the free test. Recieved an engine misfire in cylinder five. Turned out my fuel injector in that cylinder was bad. That was replaced and i'm back to just havinng the check engine light on. I took it back to auto zone and they said that the code that has been coming up was P0420 ...i found a paper in the manual from the previous owner who had got that code in 06 and that's why the check engine light was always on. I don't understand if this is a serious problem how it has been happening for three years without the car having a problem.

My question is the car drives fine and I was told it could be an oxygen sensor or a cat problem...would the car be okay to drive for the trip and fixing the problem when i get back? I don't have the time or means right now to fix it before I leave Wednesday.

Any response would help! thank you
 

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It won't hurt anything to drive it with the light on for that code. There's two O2 sensors for each converter. If their readings are the same or very similar a code is set. The sensor before the converter will fluxuate from rich to lean. It's main function is to monitor the fuel/air ration. The second O2 sensor is after the converter, it's purpose is to monitor the reading after the converter, it's reading should be fairly steady and not fluxuating. The pcm can determine the converter's effieciency by comparing the readings from each sensor. If both are reading the same it's throws a code to alert the driver.
 
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