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Failing smog visual inspection: How to prove 03 should have 4 cats???


NismoGizmo
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Hi everyone, I hope someone can help me.

 

I just got my 03 Nissan Pathfinder LE from a friend and found out I need to get it smog checked to finish registering the it in my name (I live in California).

 

So, I went to a smog check station and was told that my Pathfinder failed due to a visual inspection.  The inspector said I have 4 catalytic converters and should only have 2.  The inspector said the two in the engine compartment were stock and the two under the passenger compartment were aftermarket.

 

Not knowing anything at all about the Pathfinder or what my friend had done to it, I just accepted this as a fact.  I assumed my friend had at some point installed 2 after market catalytic converters and didn't have the original catalytic converters removed.

 

Now after reading a comment on this forum, I found that the Pathfinder has 4 catalytic converters (although the 2 under the passenger compartment can be called "resonators"?).

 

Can you help me out here?

1.  Can you confirm that the 03 Nissan Pathfinder has 4 catalytic converters?  Or if it has 2 catalytic converters and 2 resonators?

2.  How can I prove this to the inspector so that he will pass my Pathfinder for the smog check?  I looked in the Nissan Pathfinder repair manual but it doesn't seem to mention catalytic converters.  If there's some documentation somewhere about what these 4 devices are in my Pathfinder, please point me to it so I can print it out and show it to him.

 

Many thanks in advance!

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Pages 10 and 11 of the FE section of the '03 manual have diagrams of the exhaust system showing all of the components. You can download the '03 manual here. The manual doesn't label the resonators for some reason but shows the TWCs (three-way catalysts) bolted to the manifolds as the only cats in the system. The parts diagram here shows them as present, but doesn't say what they are. This thread says they're just resonators, and suggests that Nissan didn't make them right (there's a shock) and then came up with a half-assed "fix" to slap on when they failed (this seems to be a pattern). This thread also talks about whether or not they're cats, and the last poster had a link to the actual part.

+1 for finding an inspector who's not a halfwit. Wouldn't hurt to have the diagrams on your phone or something in case the next guy's also an idiot.

Edited by Slartibartfast
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@Slartibartfast Thanks for the great information!  I'm going to call the smog inspector today and explain to him that he got the diagnosis incorrect.  I'll bring the information you shared to prove that he was mistaken and demand that he recheck my car and (likely) pass it.

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On 12/25/2018 at 1:46 PM, NismoGizmo said:

Hi everyone, I hope someone can help me.

 

I just got my 03 Nissan Pathfinder LE from a friend and found out I need to get it smog checked to finish registering the it in my name (I live in California).

 

So, I went to a smog check station and was told that my Pathfinder failed due to a visual inspection.  The inspector said I have 4 catalytic converters and should only have 2.  The inspector said the two in the engine compartment were stock and the two under the passenger compartment were aftermarket.

 

Not knowing anything at all about the Pathfinder or what my friend had done to it, I just accepted this as a fact.  I assumed my friend had at some point installed 2 after market catalytic converters and didn't have the original catalytic converters removed.

 

Now after reading a comment on this forum, I found that the Pathfinder has 4 catalytic converters (although the 2 under the passenger compartment can be called "resonators"?).

 

Can you help me out here?

1.  Can you confirm that the 03 Nissan Pathfinder has 4 catalytic converters?  Or if it has 2 catalytic converters and 2 resonators?

2.  How can I prove this to the inspector so that he will pass my Pathfinder for the smog check?  I looked in the Nissan Pathfinder repair manual but it doesn't seem to mention catalytic converters.  If there's some documentation somewhere about what these 4 devices are in my Pathfinder, please point me to it so I can print it out and show it to him.

 

Many thanks in advance!

 

The beauty of registering in California! Did the inspector fail you because it "has" 4 catalytic converters? Or because they were not c.a.r.b. compliant? Either way your issue has to be fixed and retested because he probably already sent the info to the dmv that the car isn't certified so it may not pass if taken somewhere else. From what  I know the rear are only resonators and serve no real purpose.

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@Astrorami He failed me for having 4 catalytic converters which he considered an aftermarket "tampering".  Yes, I'm going to get it retested.  I wanted to go back to the same inspector today and demand a retest, but it seems they were closed (or at least not answering their phones).

 

I actually scheduled an appointment for tomorrow morning with a "BAR Referee" who is going to look over the smog check results and my car and (hopefully) make a ruling that I pass.  He can give me a smog certification right there without having to deal with the first smog inspector.

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Wow... there is no emissions testing where I live and I definitely take it for granted..

So are the two post cats aftermarket, or are they the ones that came on the vehicle from the factory? If they’re aftermarket then they’re probably not compliant with the asinine emissions standards out there in CA.

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The two resonators (not catalysts, just baffles in cans) are factory, but they've apparently got heat shields for some reason, so people mistake them for cats. The smog guy likely made that mistake, noted that the number he thought he saw didn't match what his computer said, and marked it as a fail. Nevermind the obvious factory welds or the question of why someone would add two catalysts to an exhaust system.

 

And yes, I'm very happy to not live in California.

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Mine has 4 cats. I’ve had all four of them off and all four of them have honeycomb catalyst inside.

Looks like Nissan produced two variations for “CA emissions” and “FED emissions”. The CA variant has 4 catalysts, two per bank and the FED variant has 2 catalysts that are directly attached to the exhaust manifold and then the downstreams are indeed resonators.

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Weird. There's no mention of a California-spec exhaust in the service manual. I had a look at the diagram on factorynissanparts for the '99 system (figured VG vs VQ might be different) and it shows different year ranges on some parts for California/federal, and different three-way cats up by the manifolds for California/federal, but I don't see any secondary cats listed. The Courtesy Parts listing for the '04 resonator linked above says it says it fits all US-market trucks from January of 2000 and up. The only mention of California is that it causes cancer there. (I couldn't find a similar part for earlier trucks, but I didn't search that hard, either.)


I would not be shocked if the service manual forgot to note something important, but I'd expect the parts sellers to at least note that the parts existed. I can't explain what OSB saw, though. OSB, where are you finding the info on the CA variant?
 

Looks like the R51 has front and rear cats, for what that's worth. I also remember the guy who replaced the exhaust on my '95 saying it had two cats under it for some reason, but I don't remember anything about that myself; it was a long time ago and I wasn't quite as inclined to dive into Pathfinder-related rabbit holes at the time. It's entirely possible he mistook the big Y-pipe junction or something for a cat.

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Well, bad news.

 

The inspector said that I definitely *do* have catalytic converters which have been added to the "front tube" indicated by part number 2 on page 10 in the 2003 Pathfinder FSM:

https://www.nicoclub.com/FSM/Pathfinder/2003_Pathfinder/fe.pdf

 

I believe these "front tubes" also are the part indicated by 12 and described as resonators on this page: https://www.factorynissanparts.net/auto-parts/2003/nissan/pathfinder/le-trim/3-5l-v6-gas-engine/exhaust-system-cat/exhaust-components-scat

 

The inspector even read off a part number, 445005 on it, which corresponds to a Magnaflow catalytic converter:

 

https://www.amazon.com/MagnaFlow-445005-Universal-Catalytic-Converter/dp/B00AURR8SK

 

So, *somehow* these catalytic converters are beneath my passenger compartment.  I suspect that my friend had his "muffler" replaced, but actually had the resonators (which are mufflers) replaced.  But the people replacing the resonators somehow replaced them with these Magnaflow catalytic converters instead of resonators.  They likely did so since the resonators look very much like catalytic converters so they thought they were replacing catalytic converters.

 

At this point, I am planning to go to an exhaust shop, cut off the extra catalytic converters, and have resonators or straight pipe welded in their place.  I could try and go back to the place where my friend got his exhaust done and demand they fix their mistake, but he said it was done a long time ago (God only knows how he got it to pass smog all these years...) and it's likely under no warranty now.

 

So, is there any advice on how to proceed?  I've gone to one exhaust place already.  They confirmed what is under my car are catalytic converters, and they've quoted me $300 to replace both of them with resonators and $200 to replace them with straight pipe.  I'm going to get another quote from another guy tomorrow morning.

 

1. Does it make sense to buy straight pipe or resonators myself and provide them for the job so that I only pay for labor?

2. Is it possible to do this job myself?  It sounds straight-forward: cut out the existing component, cut pipes that fit, and weld them in.  How feasible is this for someone who has never welded?

 

I am also considering a last ditch effort of going to the original dealer where my friend bought the Pathfinder and asking them if it was sold with these components in place.  I'll probably be told the same information: that these are aftermarket catalytic converters, not factory equipment.  But if I can avoid having to pay several hundred to get something cut out that was there from the factory, it seems worth a shot.

Edited by NismoGizmo
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Well, bad news.
 
The inspector said that I definitely *do* have catalytic converters which have been added to the "front tube" indicated by part number 2 on page 10 in the 2003 Pathfinder FSM:
https://www.nicoclub.com/FSM/Pathfinder/2003_Pathfinder/fe.pdf
 
I believe these "front tubes" also are the part indicated by 12 and described as resonators on this page: https://www.factorynissanparts.net/auto-parts/2003/nissan/pathfinder/le-trim/3-5l-v6-gas-engine/exhaust-system-cat/exhaust-components-scat
 
The inspector even read off a part number, 445005 on it, which corresponds to a Magnaflow catalytic converter:
 
https://www.amazon.com/MagnaFlow-445005-Universal-Catalytic-Converter/dp/B00AURR8SK
 
So, *somehow* these catalytic converters are beneath my passenger compartment.  I suspect that my friend had his "muffler" replaced, but actually had the resonators (which are mufflers) replaced.  But the people replacing the resonators somehow replaced them with these Magnaflow catalytic converters instead of resonators.  They likely did so since the resonators look very much like catalytic converters so they thought they were replacing catalytic converters.
 
At this point, I am planning to go to an exhaust shop, cut off the extra catalytic converters, and have resonators or straight pipe welded in their place.  I could try and go back to the place where my friend got his exhaust done and demand they fix their mistake, but he said it was done a long time ago (God only knows how he got it to pass smog all these years...) and it's likely under no warranty now.
 
So, is there any advice on how to proceed?  I've gone to one exhaust place already.  They confirmed what is under my car are catalytic converters, and they've quoted me $300 to replace both of them with resonators and $200 to replace them with straight pipe.  I'm going to get another quote from another guy tomorrow morning.
 
1. Does it make sense to buy straight pipe or resonators myself and provide them for the job so that I only pay for labor?
2. Is it possible to do this job myself?  It sounds straight-forward: cut out the existing component, cut pipes that fit, and weld them in.  How feasible is this for someone who has never welded?
 
I am also considering a last ditch effort of going to the original dealer where my friend bought the Pathfinder and asking them if it was sold with these components in place.  I'll probably be told the same information: that these are aftermarket catalytic converters, not factory equipment.  But if I can avoid having to pay several hundred to get something cut out that was there from the factory, it seems worth a shot.

I don’t know how much you value your time but if it were me,I’d pay those $200 any day if it meant I could avoid the headache of dealing with any of this.


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Honestly my info isn’t in black and white anywhere.. at all... which I think is absolutely ridiculous. What’s more ridiculous is that California mandates entirely separate emissions standards than the rest of the entire USA. I could rattle on in the likes of a novel here but I won’t.

 

The FSM calls the cats nearest to the engine “warm up” cats. I can’t find it to save my life now, and it was probably anecdotal anyway, but I read that CA emission laws require the catalyst system to have the nox output in a certain range by a certain time while the vehicle is still warming up.

587ae90f331c5424b029852927e1f358.jpg

 

Then there’s the two different configurations and you can see which you have by whether or not your catalyst tag under the hood says California approved or not.

*you can also see here in this pic that it says “2TWC(2)” which is 2 three way catalysts multiplied by two banks for a total of 4 cats on CA approved models*

650bd37021999cb8c09aa47e34358288.jpg

 

Here are the two separate diagrams:

c415a2de2ae262f5c6403cda00ee889d.jpg

33e4162ed5c901552fee5dd5ddaa883c.jpg

 

NizmoGizmo, show that guy the tag under your hood that clearly says you have 4 cats. If he doesn’t accept that then definitely go to the dealership and ask them for some kind of document you can bring to the inspector.

 

That 445005 cat you linked says CARB compliant and if you can prove your supposed to have a cat there to begin with then you should be okay even though it is aftermarket.

 

Edit: and if he doesn’t accept that either then cut the things out of there and blow extra emissions into his hippie nostrils on your way out, certification in hand. However... if you later get an inspector that is familiar with Pathfinders then you’re gonna have to cut the straight pipes right back out and install the cats all over again.

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@onespiritbrain Thanks for bringing up the under-hood Vehicle Emission Control Information.  Unfortunately, Nissan changed the emissions setup between your year and 2003.  I think the inspector I spoke with today said that the 2002 had 4 catalytic converters, but in 2003, there's only supposed to be 2.

 

Here's the label from under my hood.  I believe it is saying there are 2 Three Way Catalysts and that's it.398086586_VehicleEmissionControlInformation.jpg.441ed5c29f4ce11dc2020242c668233d.jpg

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  • 3 weeks later...
Doesn’t it strike anyone as ironic that the emissions inspector is failing you because you have too MANY catalytic converters? He understands the goal is LESS emissions right?

Yeah, doesn’t make any sense. But then again, nothing makes sense in CA!


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  • 2 years later...

Bringing back this old thread - '03 PF with 174k miles. This is exactly what my son is going through with his bi-annual California smog check. My I/M code reader showed a bad bank 1 front cat so I replaced it but the smog check showed the rear cats were replacements and non-carb so it failed visually. I talked to another shop and they said the same thing and that if I removed the rear cats he would pass it.  I do have a receipt from the prior owner that the rear cats were replaced back in 2011 for $900 but nothing more than that, no reason or if had factory cats or resonators.  This PF is originally a Pennsylvania vehicle and the emissions sticker shows CA compliant and "2TWC" and not "2TWC(2)", so based on what I've read it should just have two front cats.  Right now I'm going with installing straight pipes on it and taking it back to the shop. It's just strange that this is exactly what the OP had a problem with, I mean nobody in their right mind would put more cats on a vehicle, right?  My son will probably sell this great PF (his first car) in the next year and we don't want the next owner to have any problems or think we tampered with emissions.

Edited by Pathypop
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2 hours ago, Pathypop said:

Bringing back this old thread - '03 PF with 174k miles. This is exactly what my son is going through with his bi-annual California smog check. My I/M code reader showed a bad bank 1 front cat so I replaced it but the smog check showed the rear cats were replacements and non-carb so it failed visually. I talked to another shop and they said the same thing and that if I removed the rear cats he would pass it.  I do have a receipt from the prior owner that the rear cats were replaced back in 2011 for $900 but nothing more than that, no reason or if had factory cats or resonators.  This PF is originally a Pennsylvania vehicle and the emissions sticker shows CA compliant and "2TWC" and not "2TWC(2)", so based on what I've read it should just have two front cats.  Right now I'm going with installing straight pipes on it and taking it back to the shop. It's just strange that this is exactly what the OP had a problem with, I mean nobody in their right mind would put more cats on a vehicle, right?  My son will probably sell this great PF (his first car) in the next year and we don't want the next owner to have any problems or think we tampered with emissions.

I'm pretty sure it had resonators. I just replaced my resonators with walker units. Amazon will ship to california since they are not emission items. The previous owner had the driver side resonator replaced with a cat for some reason. 

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4 hours ago, R50JR said:

I'm pretty sure it had resonators. I just replaced my resonators with walker units. Amazon will ship to california since they are not emission items. The previous owner had the driver side resonator replaced with a cat for some reason. 

Yeah, I'm looking at AP/Eastern resonators (pt# 301811S, universal fit). They are 24" total length x 1.75 for only $15 ea.  I see the Walker assembly on Amazon for $85 ea but if I go with them I will need to cut off the flange and splice in about 6" of pipe anyway.  Who ever installed the cats welded them on to the pipe (with o2 bung) and also welded it to the muffler side, cutting off the flange.  I would prefer the oem look of the Walkers though.

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8 hours ago, Pathypop said:

…or think we tampered with emissions.


I’ve not had the pleasure of dealing with CA emissions laws, but it seems like the problems here are that a) the OE system was tampered with, and b) was done so with non-compliant parts.  There’s no basis of what’s better, just what’s legal. CA tends to write the rules when it comes that stuff.  
 

But yeah, I also don’t get why the PO would’ve put rear cats on it. My guess is some other shop told him that it needed 4 cats to pass emissions because they didn’t understand the difference between CA and FED emission setups for the vehicle.  In this case, seems like the SMOG guys are confirming that the truck is only supposed to have two cats, so two cats it is. 

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