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California model exhaust....

Discussion in '1st Gen. Tacomas (1995-2004)' started by Jenn in GA, Jun 13, 2011.

  1. Jun 13, 2011 at 4:03 AM
    #1
    Jenn in GA

    Jenn in GA [OP] Member

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    Our '98 Tacoma with the 4.2L engine had the "check engine" light come on.
    The parts store read the trouble codes as either an O2 sensor the the catalytic converter.
    I can change the oil, rotate the tires, check valve clearance, common things like that...but I can't get at the bottom side of the truck, don't have a garage but have most common hand tools and a lot of experience working on motorcycles.
    I have no idea how this truck's exhaust system works.

    An independent shop said it was the catalytic converter. Seems like a good shop, the custom work they did on my motorcycle exhaust was quite nice and they didn't overcharge me.

    This shop says the truck is a CA model and has a special catalytic converter that is quite expensive.
    I am wondering how to get around this. Here in GA there are no emissions tests.

    1. How do I tell if this is a CA model truck?
    2. I searched the forum; the CA models have two converters, right? Do I replace them both? Are they attached to each other?
    3. This shop said a CA model converter was on back-order and would cost over $500, is this reasonable?
    4. Is it possible to use a universal converter on a CA truck? Is it possible to override the computer somehow?

    This is our only four-wheeled vehicle. I can get around a motorcycle but I need a little help figuring out the best way to keep this truck going. It's been a great truck for us the ten years we've had it and we have no intention of letting it go. Thanks for the help!
     
  2. Jun 13, 2011 at 6:27 AM
    #2
    twfsa

    twfsa Well-Known Member

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    Ask the shop how they determined the truck was a California truck first off, then I would replace the sensors first off if that didn't cure the problem do a google search on 50 state legal cats, there should be a cat that cost less than $500, my guess its just a sensor, ignoring the problem will kill your mpg's.
     
  3. Jun 13, 2011 at 1:25 PM
    #3
    Jenn in GA

    Jenn in GA [OP] Member

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    Thanks for the reply. This shop says their code scanner narrowed it down to the cat.

    Never knew there were aftermarket cats, this might help out...but are there two of them?
     
  4. Jun 13, 2011 at 2:44 PM
    #4
    Southern01Taco

    Southern01Taco Well-Known Member

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    The motor is not tuned to the special cat, so I would just stick in a regular one that should be able to be bought at either the exhaust shop or your local autoparts store. You could also just do away with the cat completely since you don't have emissions, but the exhaust will be louder.
     
  5. Jun 13, 2011 at 3:31 PM
    #5
    Jenn in GA

    Jenn in GA [OP] Member

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    Well, the cat has already been removed. I was hoping that would be OK, but the "check engine" light came back on as soon as the truck got on the interstate, and it's VERY loud.

    I just don't know if we're causing engine damage by running it this way.
    I only understand on motorcycles that if you remove restrictions in the exhaust system without rejetting the carbs (or re-mapping the fuel injection), you stand to run lean and do some damage.

    I sure appreciate any information you folks have about this....
     
  6. Jun 14, 2011 at 6:48 AM
    #6
    twfsa

    twfsa Well-Known Member

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    Doing away with the cat is not going to make the check engine light go away, there used to be test pipes that could be installed in place of the cat weather there avaiable or not for your model I am not sure, why not just bite the bullet and fix it right!
     
  7. Jun 14, 2011 at 9:20 AM
    #7
    Jenn in GA

    Jenn in GA [OP] Member

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    Of course we will absolutely fix it right. We have to, this is our only four-wheeled vehicle and we take very good care of ALL our machines. We're just on a tight budget, is why I'm taking the time to research this.


    I'm just trying to find out if an aftermarket cat will do the same job as the $550 Toyota cat.
    And I'm trying to find out if "50 state legal" will work on my Tacoma, or if "only for vehicles not registered in CA" is acceptable.

    If it was any other Tacoma, I've figured out from this great forum that I could just plug in an aftermarket unit.
    But with it being a CA model, I was just hoping some of the more knowledgeable folks here could step in and steer me in the right direction.

    Thanks for all the help so far, I've learned a lot.
    Truck's MPG are not falling, if that means anything.
     
  8. Jun 14, 2011 at 5:36 PM
    #8
    geoff06

    geoff06 261k and counting

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    I know that 1st gen 'California tacos' have 2 catatlytic converters (mine does and so do others I know of). I blew my secondary cat (the one closer to the rear) this last February and replaced it with a reasonably priced aftermarket Davico cat. Everything was running and flowing extremely well until the last 5 days or so-- the exhaust started smelling bad again, and finally the CEL came on last night, giving P0420 "catalyst system efficiency below threshold". I am surmising that the primary cat (closest to the engine, and mine has 214k miles so it has lived a long productive life) is at fault, being that my secondry is only a few months old. Anyway, that's the situation I'm in, and there are a number of others around with this same cat problem.
    A couple things to remember are that (1) if you have a blown cat that is clogged, trouble with the EGR and other valves can occur, (2) gas mileage can be noticeably lower, and (3) you will not pass emissions tests where the truck is plugged into a computer for diagnosis (well, apparently except in Georgia, so good for you!).
     
  9. Jun 14, 2011 at 6:24 PM
    #9
    Taco76087

    Taco76087 Well-Known Member

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    Check eBay, ive had numerous Magnaflow catalytic converters on past vehicles and they have always worked great.
     
  10. Jun 14, 2011 at 6:33 PM
    #10
    geoff06

    geoff06 261k and counting

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    yeah I would definitely recommend ebay too. And with a quote from Toyota for $1100 for the primary cat :violent:, there is NOOOO way anyone should be charged that kinda money!
    Also, something that other people have recommended to me is gutting the cats (effectively creating a budget highflow exhaust) and replacing the downstream o2 sensor with an o2 simulator. The simulator tells the ECU that clean air is flowing out behind the cats and the exhaust is working right. Higher emissions, but heck, I'm not a tree hugger...
     
  11. Jun 14, 2011 at 10:06 PM
    #11
    Digiratus

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    A note to the OP, not all 2 CAT Tacomas are California trucks. Mine has 2 CATs and is not a California truck, west coast yes, but was originally sold in Oregon.

    The other thing I was curious about is the engine size in your truck. You list it as a 2.4L but I've never heard of a 4WD Tacoma with a 2.4L. Could it be the 2.7L 4cyl or the 3.4L v6? How many lug nuts on your wheels? 5 or 6?
     
  12. Jun 30, 2011 at 10:51 PM
    #12
    Deigo

    Deigo Member

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    i also have a 2 cat truck tat has started to stink. i was toying with the idea of straight piping one cat and jus replacing the other. i have the factory service manual and it does not list different heated o2 sensors for replacement between 1 and 2 cat systems, so by my logic removing one cat should not throw off the sensor. but my logic and toyota's dont always agree, any thoughts ?
     
  13. Jul 1, 2011 at 9:40 PM
    #13
    geoff06

    geoff06 261k and counting

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    If you remove one cat, I think the downstream o2 sensor will probably immediately get cranky. With the 2-cat trucks, when one cat gets blown (or goes missing), the o2 sensor is supposed to cause the CEL to come on, since the catalyst system as a whole is not doing its job. And then the computer starts changing the air/fuel mix, leading to bad gas mileage, among other things.

    Something to remember is that if you remove one cat, you might wanna to replace the downstream sensor with an o2 simulator (URD makes a good one that a bunch of guys on here use)
     
  14. Jul 4, 2011 at 10:20 AM
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    Deigo

    Deigo Member

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    yea i jus ended up ordering the o2 sensor simulator. realized im too lazy to go through all that work to possibly have the sensor still not like it. besides, i wanna completely get rid of my cats before the supercharger goes on :D
     
  15. Jul 10, 2011 at 6:19 PM
    #15
    Deigo

    Deigo Member

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    ok installed the urd O2 simulator after cutting off both cats and now im throwing code p0420 cat system below efficiency threshhold. any thoughts on this? did i get a bad unit ? its pretty much impossible to mess up the install so im stumped
     
  16. Jul 12, 2011 at 6:50 PM
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    totalloser

    totalloser New Member

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    To the OP. The reason CA has special dealer only cat rules is because our legislature are over 50% drooling goofs. There is no real difference in inline cats compared to aftermarket cats. They all function in the same way with two plenums. One to burn off CO and HC, the other to burn off NOX. Usually these cost about $110, and have to be welded in.

    Some rigs use multiple cats, and if the primary cat is on the manifold, I'd just dump it and get a header. The O2 sensors are almost always on either side of the secondary cat. If your rig isn't properly tuned, it'll be more likely to throw a code and make the CElight kick on, but running with a bad tune should be dealt with anyhow.

    As to danger for the engine, the primary concern is if the cat is plugged up. A plugged cat can (and usually will) cost you an engine. Back pressure and heat will overheat the exhaust valves, and possibly overheat the engine which could warp the head and anneal the piston rings. YOU DON'T WANT TO RUN A PLUGGED CAT.

    Having said that, make sure it's not something simple. Sometimes a set of spark plugs will take care of it. With good maintenance cats usually last nearly forever. But a poorly tuned engine making the cat burn misfires can drastically reduce life, and a rich engine or contamination (like silicone) can foul them up in a hurry. Difficult to have a consistent rich condition on a modern car since even if the o2 sensors fail and the engine runs in closed loop they generally don't run rich enough to foul the cat.
     
  17. Aug 16, 2011 at 11:38 PM
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    Triton

    Triton New Member

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    Jenn -- What was your solution?

    I have a nearly identical situation with my '99 2WD Tacoma. Bought it new in CA. Moved to AZ which has more lax emissions tests. Has ~120k mi. now. Starting at 110k miles, CEL started coming on periodically. Has been steadily lit for last 2k mi. A Toy shop's code reader says its the cat.

    I've done all maintenance myself by the book, except I put Platinum plugs in at 60k instead of the standard plugs. Only time in a shop was for accident repair about the time problem started. (If those nastrds changed out my cat...)
     
  18. Aug 16, 2011 at 11:52 PM
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    Greensystemsgo

    Greensystemsgo Clean 1 owner with low miles.

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    it is possible to mess up your cat, buddy used fuel injector cleaner for about six months every other tank in his honda. cost him a cat. BUT chances are its just a sensor. get some more estimates.
     
  19. Aug 16, 2011 at 11:52 PM
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    Greensystemsgo

    Greensystemsgo Clean 1 owner with low miles.

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    it is possible to mess up your cat, buddy used fuel injector cleaner for about six months every other tank in his honda. cost him a cat. BUT chances are its just a sensor. get some more estimates.
     
  20. Aug 17, 2011 at 1:07 AM
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    Blackdawg

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    i wanna know what 4.2L motor this is :p lol
     
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