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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Driving to work the other day, my Xterra started skipping, and stuttering and the Service Engine Light began flashing. The idle got real rough as well. It would start fine, just not idle very well.

Prior to that it had been running fine, though I thought I'd noticed a little loss of power, but I couldn't tell if it was just in my head or not. The SES light had been on prior to this, and was due to 0420 and 0430 Codes. I'd bought O2 Sensor Extenders for a quick fix for clearing those codes, but never got around to installing them.

I drove to Advanced Auto and had them pull the codes and got back:

0420
0430
0102 - Mass Air Flow Sensor
0113 - Intake Air Sensor High Input
0301 - Cylinder 1 miss-fire

I replaced the MAF, cleared the memory and still had the stuttering and misfire, Had the codes pulled again and only had the P0301 Code this time.

Next, I changed the Coil Pack on the #1 Cylinder (It would be the #1, so I had to remove all the air intake and throttle body). The Xterra fired up and ran well it seemed. It idled smooth, no misfire, no skipping or stuttering and I thought all was well.

But something seems off now, and the best way I know how to describe it is that it seems to be less perky and responsive, it also seems to rev higher and be a little louder when under throttle when I'm accelerating up to speed, and I can't tell if the loudness is because I'm having to push the petal harder to accelerate causing higher rpms or if some else is making it sound louder? It sounds and feels like the Xterra's engine is having to work harder to get up to speed. It sounds normal at idle. I don't have a problem getting around at all, but it just seems to be under performing. The SES light came back on after about an hour of driving around on and off, not flashing any longer, but on, of course that's been normal for me. I'll have the codes pulled again today and see what's showing now.

Any ideas for what's causing this or maybe something I've missed?
 

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Sounds like the cats are finally breaking up and plugging. I’d stop driving it until you can replace the cats. Else you might be needing an engine soon if it gets sucked in. The loudness and trying to push harder to go is a dead giveaway to me. Exhaust is plugging up.
 

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Sounds too much like several recent posts about cats blowing up and plugging. Motor is next to go as the crud gets sucked back up into the cylinders. Best advice like surf said is to stop driving it and pull the cats. Lots of recent threads on this issue here.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Well that's definitely not what I wanted to hear, I just don't have the money to replace the cats right now. Do I have any other options to get by until I can afford to purchase the cats?
 

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If you don't have emission testing where you live, the cheapest fix would be to gut the cats. Install those O2 extenders to cheat the ECM and you're good to go.
 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
If you don't have emission testing where you live, the cheapest fix would be to gut the cats. Install those O2 extenders to cheat the ECM and you're good to go.
That's what I was wondering. Is there a "how to" on the forum here? I've been looking but haven't found one yet.

Is it possible to pull the cats and clean the honey-combe? Is that what gets clogged?
 

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If you don't have emission testing where you live, the cheapest fix would be to gut the cats. Install those O2 extenders to cheat the ECM and you're good to go.
That's what I was wondering. Is there a "how to" on the forum here? I've been looking but haven't found one yet.

Is it possible to pull the cats and clean the honey-combe? Is that what gets clogged?
Yeah, you'll have to pull your cats. Yes, the catalyst collapses and blocks the exhaust. There's some good how to's on YouTube, just do a search.
 

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That's what I was wondering. Is there a "how to" on the forum here? I've been looking but haven't found one yet.

Is it possible to pull the cats and clean the honey-combe? Is that what gets clogged?
There’s no cleaning them. When they are breaking up internally, they are shot. The danger in driving it that way is the engine can suck in broken up bits of catalyst during valve overlap and it will destroy the engine, leading to a very expensive repair. Your options are to remove them and either replace them or guy them. Same with the downstream if they got blown debris in them.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
As I'm thinking this through, could I have created a leak in the intake Manifold that's causing this? I had to pull that off to get to the #1 cylinder, and I didn't replace the gaskets when I re-assembled it. I haven't heard any unusual hissing sounds while at idle, but I have noticed a coolant smell when I come to a stop and park it, but I haven't seen any major leaks under the hood or anything like that, and it's keeping temp.

I'm just wondering if I should have changed those gaskets, and if by not doing so I created a leak that causing this sudden loss of power?
 

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As I'm thinking this through, could I have created a leak in the intake Manifold that's causing this? I had to pull that off to get to the #1 cylinder, and I didn't replace the gaskets when I re-assembled it. I haven't heard any unusual hissing sounds while at idle, but I have noticed a coolant smell when I come to a stop and park it, but I haven't seen any major leaks under the hood or anything like that, and it's keeping temp.

I'm just wondering if I should have changed those gaskets, and if by not doing so I created a leak that causing this sudden loss of power?
You could have but I think it's unlikely that's the problem because the initial issue was a misfire. I've reused that gasket with no issue in the past, definitely check the cats out, you can unbolt the secondaries to get a decent look at the rear of the primaries.
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
Well I changed all the spark plugs, changed the Plenum Gasket, checked for vacuum leaks, couldn't find any and I guess I'm at the obvious, what everyone has said in this thread, the cats need to go. I'm really not looking forward to doing this.

I can't afford new ones right now, so I'm going to pull the old ones, gut them, add the O2 Sensor extenders and call it a day until I can afford to purchase some. My county in North Carolina still requires emissions test I believe, so I'll eventually need to get cats on.

Off the topic a little, but I evidently damaged a coolant line taking the plenum off and I'm not sure how? I didn't notice it until I got everything back together and started the engine.

Can anyone tell me what this so I can properly replace it? There is a hose that attaches to it, but the plastic bib it attaches to is now broken off.
 

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Well I changed the all the spark plugs, changed the Plenum Gasket, checked fro vacuum leaks, couldn't find any and I guess I'm at the obvious, what everyone has said in this thread, the cats need to go. I'm really not looking forward to doing this.

I can't afford new ones right now, so I'm going to pull the old ones, gut them, add the O2 Sensor extenders and call it a day until I can afford to purchase some. My county in North Carolina still requires emissions test I believe, so I'll eventually need to get cats on.

Off the topic a little, but I evidently damaged a coolant line taking the plenum off and I'm not sure how? I didn't notice it until I got everything back together and started the engine.

Can anyone tell me what this so I can properly replace it? There is a hose that attaches to it, but the plastic bib it attaches to is now broken off.
You really should not drive it. Until you pull those cats. You are going to blow the motor.

Broke plastic part is heater hose. Replace them both while you’re there. Part numbers: https://www.thenewx.org/forum/11-powertrain-driveline/211074-coolant-leak-heater-hose-pipe-valve-along-firewall-*cpl*.html

Also for future knowledge, you don’t need to remove the plenum to change plugs. With a couple wobble sockets and extensions, they can easily be done in <60 mins without any hassle.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
You really should not drive it. Until you pull those cats. You are going to blow the motor.

Broke plastic part is heater hose. Replace them both while you’re there. Part numbers: https://www.thenewx.org/forum/11-powertrain-driveline/211074-coolant-leak-heater-hose-pipe-valve-along-firewall-*cpl*.html

Also for future knowledge, you don’t need to remove the plenum to change plugs. With a couple wobble sockets and extensions, they can easily be done in <60 mins without any hassle.
Thanks for the quick response and link! I thought it might be heater related.

I'm not driving it any longer, I took it on a ten minute drive over the weekend, and all symptoms were just worse. Even less power, misfiring again, P300 code. It's parked until I get the cats cleaned out.
 

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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
Well I finally found the time to pull the passenger side catalytic converter last night, it took a little longer than I thought it would, just working out the process, hopefully the driver side will go quicker.

I had a family member graciously help me purchase new converters. I bought the Eastern Cats, both sides, off of Amazon.

Passenger Side Converter was completely blown apart on the inside, barely any catalyst material left inside of it :surprise: I'm hoping no engine damage has been done. I haven't been driving it since I changed the spark plugs, it's just been sitting since my last post, I drove it from the driveway into the garage last night, but that's been it.

I found the rest of the catalyst material jammed in the pipe heading toward the 2nd catalyst. After working all day, cutting the grass and fighting to get the first converter off I called it a night right there.

I'm debating on what to do next, my first inclination was to pull the second catalyst off, and see if I can clean it out and then reassemble. I had trouble getting the electrical plugin loose from the O2 sensor located on that catalyst though, is there a trick to getting that one loose?

My 2nd thought was not pulling the downstream cat, and simply hooking up my shop vac to that catalyst and seeing if I can create a strong enough vacuum to pull the material out without taking it apart? I'm not sure If I can create a strong enough vacuum that way, and I'm not sure if there is a reason I shouldn't do this, is there something I could damage downstream? Of course the obvious would also be, did I get all the material out?

Outside of getting that O2 sensor loose I don't see it being a big deal to get that 2nd catalyst off from here and then attempt to clean it out and clean up the O2 sensor and reassemble. Any reason I can't do this and then reassemble?

I'll post pictures tomorrow.
 

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Well I finally found the time to pull the passenger side catalytic converter last night, it took a little longer than I thought it would, just working out the process, hopefully the driver side will go quicker.

I had a family member graciously help me purchase new converters. I bought the Eastern Cats, both sides, off of Amazon.

Passenger Side Converter was completely blown apart on the inside, barely any catalyst material left inside of it :surprise: I'm hoping no engine damage has been done. I haven't been driving it since I changed the spark plugs, it's just been sitting since my last post, I drove it from the driveway into the garage last night, but that's been it.

I found the rest of the catalyst material jammed in the pipe heading toward the 2nd catalyst, or whatever it's called. After working all day, cutting the grass and fighting to get the first converter off I called it a night right there.

I'm debating on what to do next, my first inclination was to pull the second catalyst off, and see if I can clean it out and then reassemble. I had trouble getting the electrical plugin loose from the O2 sensor located on that catalyst though, is there a trick to getting that one loose?

My 2nd thought was not pulling the downstream cat, and simply hooking up my shop vac to that catalyst and seeing if I can create a strong enough vacuum to pull the material out without taking it apart? I'm not sure If I can create a strong enough vacuum that way, and I'm not sure if there is a reason I shouldn't do this, is there something I could damage downstream? Of course the obvious would also be, did I get all the material out?

Outside of getting that O2 sensor loose I don't see it being a big deal to get that 2nd catalyst off from here and then attempt to clean it out and clean up the O2 sensor and reassemble. Any reason I can't do this and then reassemble?

I'll post pictures tomorrow.
How many miles do you have on your rig right now? I have started mentally preparing to do this as well.
I am at 140k just today.
 

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I had trouble getting the electrical plugin loose from the O2 sensor located on that catalyst though, is there a trick to getting that one loose?[/COLOR]

That electrical plug is a pain, just have to keep fighting with it to get it off. I actually never did and just unwound it still attached from the pipe. The secondary cats are easy to remove, way easier than the fronts. I would remove them both and wash them out with a hose until you can confirm that they are see through and completely intact. If not, I would clear them out with a pipe and hammer. The cat dust is a deathblow to an engine if it gets inside those rear cylinders.

If you do end up gutting them and want to replace them I'd wait until you can confirm the engine hasn't been damaged by the primary one blowing out. That way you aren't out any more $.
 

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Hopefully you didn’t suck catalyst into the engine. How’s the oil look? Watch for black dusty specs. You really should pull the secondaries. You don’t want to have any reminants in there that could blast the new cats and break them up or continue to restrict your exhaust.
 

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Front cat sensors have locking tabs. Pop them up and the connectors will separate.

Your secondary cats are clogged. Either gut them, wash them out (not the ideal solution) or replace them.

If the passenger primary is as bad as it is, I’d say the driver’s is shot too. Get the secondary off that side as well and gut, clean (not), or replace.

Be very careful with the cat dust. It’s NASTY BAD stuff. I used an old shop vac and then threw it away after the job. Don’t breathe the crap in. Wear a mask if you are so inclined.
Lastly, a recycling place bought my loose catalyst for $10. Just an FYI there.

You’ll need non-foulers for the secondary O2 sensors if you gut the cats. Codes will occur if you do not do this. Two stacked together and have had zero issues. So 4 total for both sensors.
Dorman 42002 and/or 42009. You’ll need to cut the tip of the shield on the sensor off. No need to drill them out like most do. I used my wee Dremel cut off wheel and it worked perfectly.
(Or buy dedicated ones from Amazon and skip the need to cut. I got the Dormans because they were readily available at AutoZone.)

You might want to go ahead and gut all 4 and reassemble the exhaust to run it before installing those new primaries. As @General_Tarfun states, it is a good idea to test before potentially wasting the new cats on a blown engine.

Do an oil and filter change ASAP after you put it all back together. I can’t stress this enough. DO IT.
And then change it again after 500 miles or less. Use cheap stuff if you want, just do the changes and try to clean out the engine of any debris.
(A long shot, but might work.)

Hopefully it’s not too late.
 

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Hopefully you didn’t suck catalyst into the engine. How’s the oil look? Watch for black dusty specs. You really should pull the secondaries. You don’t want to have any reminants in there that could blast the new cats and break them up or continue to restrict your exhaust.
Yep. Seconded.

You posted while I was writing my book! Lol!
 
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