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Flashing CEL/glowing cat

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Old 02-01-2014, 05:44 PM   #1
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(Update) Flashing CEL/glowing cat..with Codes

So I was driving home today and noticed that my truck (99 tacoma 4 cyl 2.7) started stuttering. Then after a little while of this the check engine light started flashing. I now realize that I probably should have stopped right away, however I was in a Nat'l Forest with no cell coverage..so i decided to drive the remaining 10+ miles home. During the drive the flashing cel would come and go, but the stuttering became worse. By the time i limped home, i noticed that the catalytic converter was glowing orange (hoping i didn't do permanent damage??).
From my initial search, it seems as though I am having a misfire problem. I do not have access to a code reader, so I will run out (not in my truck) in the morning to see if autozone will loan me one. I guess I could start by checking plugs/wires. Any suggestions on anything that I can look for to help diagnose the problem??
Thanks in advance
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Old 02-01-2014, 05:51 PM   #2
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If the cat was glowing red it sounds like it stopped up and the motor could not breath which would cause a misfire. Thats where I would start.
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Old 02-01-2014, 07:07 PM   #3
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Thanks for the quick reply! So could I just detach the cat and see how it runs? Would that hurt anything?

After my hours of searching forums it seems as though cats going bad are typically the result of another issue. Does a glowing cat mean that it is toast? If so, I might as well remove it and see how that goes. The only problem is that the bolts/flange between the cat and exhaust is pretty rusted together (can barely make out any nut).
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Old 02-01-2014, 07:16 PM   #4
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You could try to remove it. If it clears up and runs like it should then obviously you found the problem. You can always have a new one welded in. Just take a hack saw or sawall and cut the pipe if you have to.
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Old 02-01-2014, 07:37 PM   #5
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So is there a pretty good chance the cat is bad? I'd hate to cut it out if not.
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Old 02-01-2014, 07:41 PM   #6
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Quote:
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So is there a pretty good chance the cat is bad? I'd hate to cut it out if not.
With it glowing orange I would say so but thats just my opinion.
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Old 02-01-2014, 07:57 PM   #7
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Right on...I appreciate the advice! I may be able to detach it on the engine side and just not completely remove it.
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Old 02-01-2014, 08:35 PM   #8
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Quote:
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Right on...I appreciate the advice! I may be able to detach it on the engine side and just not completely remove it.
I would try that before cutting.
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Old 02-01-2014, 09:41 PM   #9
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Often a glowing cat can be caused by a misfire, fuel blowing straight I to the cat and igniting.


Is it running like ass right now? What exactly is happening? Lack of power? Engine sounds muffled? Or is it misfiring and feels like not all the cylinders are doing work?
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Old 02-02-2014, 04:20 AM   #10
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Yep... running terrible..sputtering/shaking when I accelerate. Almost sounded like I heard a small backfire at one point. And yeah definitely a lack of power.
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Old 02-02-2014, 04:41 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Markley View Post
Yep... running terrible..sputtering/shaking when I accelerate. Almost sounded like I heard a small backfire at one point. And yeah definitely a lack of power.

Bet the Cat was glowing because you had uningnited fuel passing in to it. Cats usually operate at 1200*f, and the flash point of gasoline is well below that. So, to do an internet diagnosis, your cat is now shot because of this, so you will need all new cats and most likely o2 sensors as well. Not sure what you have for your ignition system, but, definately get new spark plugs, if you have plug wires, a new set of them. If you have ignition coil system, you will need to test it to see where the problem is, if you have a distibutor, you need to check that for problems. An easy DIY diagnosis is to run the engine and listen for where the misfire is coming from. If you can't tell by listening, pull each plug and check for significant fouling. Another way is to pull the power to one plug at a time, then run the engine for each plug deenergized and listen for a difference in sound. Though if you connect a code reader, it may tell you which cylinder(s) are misfiring. Good luck
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Old 02-02-2014, 05:05 AM   #12
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So when you say pull one plug at a time, is that simply just unplugging the wire? Also, when you say both cats..where is the second?
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Old 02-02-2014, 06:39 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Markley View Post
So when you say pull one plug at a time, is that simply just unplugging the wire? Also, when you say both cats..where is the second?
I generalized my statement because I don't know the set up that you have. You may or may not have 2 cats. You may or may not have a resonator. You may or may not have ignition coils. But to answer your question about pulling one plug at a time, yes, just the wire, then start the engine to listen for a change in sound, but you should check the plugs, wires, coils/distributor, and any other component for fouling or damage before you do that. If you can't visually diagnose the problem, then move on to starting the engine minus one cylinder at a time.
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Old 02-02-2014, 06:49 AM   #14
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Ok..so i got a code reader and it shows P0300 & P0304; random multiple misfre and cylinder 4 misfire. So i removed the spark plugs and sure enough the one in cylinder 4 was very black as compared to the others. I guess I'll change the plugs and wires first and see how that goes. I do have 2 ignition coils one for 1,4 & one for 2,3.

So it may be that I found the culprit, but it sounds as though I ruined (plugged) my cat in the process?? Is that the consensus? Would it hurt to change the plugs and see what happens before removing the cat? Is there a code for a bad cat?

Thanks so much for your replies!!!
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Old 02-02-2014, 07:00 AM   #15
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I've read elsewhere that I can check the ignition coil by switching coils around...being that one of the plugs is obviously bad can I rule out the coils or is that still a possibility?
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Old 02-02-2014, 07:11 AM   #16
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There is no code for a bad cat

Swapping the coils will tell you if one is the problem

Make sure that you have pressure at the tailpipe before running the engine too long

I wouldn't cut the exhaust if that's your only mode of transportation unless you are sure the cat is not allowing air flow
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Old 02-02-2014, 07:13 AM   #17
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If you have an Ohm meter, you can check the resistance on the known good coil, and compare it to the possibly bad coil before you switch them around, but yes, you can switch coils to see if the coil turns out to be bad. I am pretty certain that the cat is toast, but it may have survived if it didn't totally explode. I'm sure that the o2 sensors have suffered as well.
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Old 02-02-2014, 07:13 AM   #18
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So would I have to swap the actual coils or could I just switch the leads/plug wire connections?
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Old 02-02-2014, 08:08 AM   #20
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So i cleared the codes and switched out the plugs...running very nice and no codes now showing.

However, I did notice smoke coming out of the flange connection on the engine side of the cat. I am still getting decent exhaust coming out the tailpipe, but maybe it is partially clogged causing the leak at the flange??
Any suggestions?

Thanks again..you guys are a great help
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