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  1. #1
    Enthusiast johnnyk_6's Avatar
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    Gen III Caught on Fire - Possibly Catalytic Converter

    I was out doing some spirited driving with a buddy the other night when I noticed smoke coming from the driver's side wheel well at a stoplight. I quickly pulled off onto a service road where we hopped out to look for the source of the smoke. We didn't find anything obvious in the engine bay, but when my buddy looked under the car he saw a small fire that appeared to be near the catalytic converter on the driver side.

    I ran around the area frantically trying to find someone with water or a fire extinguisher while my buddy called the fire department. Fortunately, there happened to be a police officer nearby who had a fire extinguisher in his cruiser. The fire appeared to be in the hole near the front-driver-side jack point, so that's where I aimed the extinguisher and was able to put out the fire.

    I called a tow truck and had the car towed home, then jacked it up to try and locate the source of the fire. I found what appeared to be some kind of heat shielding around the exhaust/cat bracket that had melted:

    PXL_20210904_143847390.jpg PXL_20210904_143853193.jpg

    My guess is that the catalytic converter plugged up and started running hot enough to melt/ignite some nearby components. Does anybody have advice on how I could confirm that the catalytic converter is the cause? I haven't had the car towed to Woodhouse yet because I'm afraid I won't be able to find an OEM cat, so I'd ideally like to confirm that it's the cat and look around for the part myself before towing it and having the car sit in a lot for potentially weeks or month while I wait to find one.

    If it is in fact the catalytic converter, then this would indicate some other underlying problem that's causing my cats to fail. I had to replace a plugged cat last year within the first 3k miles of ownership (around 22k miles on the car when it failed). My theory is that the car came with a tune on it because it makes exhaust pops which I don't think are from a stock tune. I'm guessing a previous owner ran catless with a pop tune, then threw the cats back on before selling it, so I've been running a pop tune that smoked both of my cats.

    So I'm curious if I can check for signs of a bad cat myself before having the car towed to the shop and potentially waiting weeks for a replacement cat. I'd also like to know the best way to go about checking for a tune. Any insight or advice would be greatly appreciated!

  2. #2
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    It almost looks like copper wire inside the heat shield, never seen that. If the cat was clogged I would think you would have noticed as my bet would be it was running less than optimal. Just my 2 cents. Glad it didn’t burn!
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  3. #3
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    Just take it in. Even if it's a catalytic converter, just put high flows in, you'll be happy you did.

  4. #4
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    johnnyk 6, put hi flow cats on. There are other places, local, so you don’t have to take it to Woodhouse. Mark Jorgensen, out at Bentley, doesn’t do that type of work, but there are other shops that can help. Extreme down on 132/L St can do it. I had mine done by them. I have a Gen 2.
    The Gen 3 guys can tell you if are any codes or whatever after install. I didn’t have any CELs.
    We don’t have emissions here or any inspections so you can make changes. Just keep the old exhaust just in case.

  5. #5
    Enthusiast johnnyk_6's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Martyb View Post
    It almost looks like copper wire inside the heat shield, never seen that. If the cat was clogged I would think you would have noticed as my bet would be it was running less than optimal. Just my 2 cents. Glad it didn’t burn!
    When I previously had a plugged cat, the car had noticeable power loss and hesitation for several days and eventually threw a code. I didn't notice any performance decrease while driving before it caught fire so I wonder if it could be something else?

  6. #6
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    Woodhouse will leave your car outside like the common Neon while waiting for parts. Extreme and others will pull your car inside.

  7. #7
    Enthusiast johnnyk_6's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 13COBRA View Post
    Just take it in. Even if it's a catalytic converter, just put high flows in, you'll be happy you did.
    This is definitely an option I am considering - maybe cheaper in the long run than replacing OEM cats.

    Quote Originally Posted by Viper98 View Post
    johnnyk 6, put hi flow cats on. There are other places, local, so you don’t have to take it to Woodhouse. Mark Jorgensen, out at Bentley, doesn’t do that type of work, but there are other shops that can help. Extreme down on 132/L St can do it. I had mine done by them. I have a Gen 2.
    The Gen 3 guys can tell you if are any codes or whatever after install. I didn’t have any CELs.
    We don’t have emissions here or any inspections so you can make changes. Just keep the old exhaust just in case.
    I will probably go with hi-flow cats if it turns out to be the stock catalytic converter. I will check out Extreme and look around for some hi-flow cats in the likely case I go with that option. Thanks for the recommendation!

  8. #8
    Enthusiast johnnyk_6's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Viper98 View Post
    Woodhouse will leave your car outside like the common Neon while waiting for parts. Extreme and others will pull your car inside.
    That's exactly what I am afraid of. Don't want to tow it there and leave it outside for weeks, or have to tow it home again and back once the part comes in (Woodhouse is an hour away so a flatbed tow isn't cheap).

  9. #9
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    If I were closer, I'd help out. My shop is 25 minutes NE of Kansas City.

  10. #10
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    I suggest you purchase the hi-flow cats, once received make an appointment with the shop and have it towed once. Mike Moss, at Extreme, is an artist. He is very meticulous.

  11. #11
    Glad it's ok , could of been so much worse

    If it was my car id order two high flow cats and have a reputable exhaust shop weld them in same day

    Is there any reason we would need a viper specialist for a simple cat install ?

  12. #12
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    I purchased a gen 3 that had a cat fire. Car was running so rich on the one side that it put extra fuel in the cat. I figured I would just have to replace o2 sensor and be done. I was wrong. Took forever to figure out what was going on. Turned out to be a knock sensor. Computer can not read them on the gen 3 and they can do some crazy stuff to the tune. Funny thing was the car was pretty fast when it had the issue but slowed down once fixed.
    TT everything

  13. #13
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    Can you further explain what you found?

    We have pretty good access to G3 knock sensing parameters, and they have always served us well.

    However... one thing I have seen more than once is knock sensor wiring being zapped by old plug wires and damaging the PCM and/or knock inputs.

  14. #14
    Enthusiast johnnyk_6's Avatar
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    After taking the side sills off, it appears the heat shielding above the secondary cat burned through to the fiberglass layer.

    2.jpg3.jpg

    It looks like the rubber exhaust isolator piece is what caught on fire.

    4.jpg

    So I'm fairly certain it's the secondary cat that failed. I guess it's time to look for some hi-flow cats

  15. #15
    Enthusiast johnnyk_6's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mbccenter View Post
    I purchased a gen 3 that had a cat fire. Car was running so rich on the one side that it put extra fuel in the cat. I figured I would just have to replace o2 sensor and be done. I was wrong. Took forever to figure out what was going on. Turned out to be a knock sensor. Computer can not read them on the gen 3 and they can do some crazy stuff to the tune. Funny thing was the car was pretty fast when it had the issue but slowed down once fixed.
    How did you diagnose the knock sensor issue? Were there any other symptoms that could indicate this being the cause?

  16. #16
    Supporting Vendor JonB ~ PartsRack's Avatar
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    Cats dont plug themselves.something Up-stream is fouling the cat

    Plugs, wires, coils, oxy sensors, and more, and now KNOCK sensors!?!

    Dont just replace the cats without finding and fixing the fouler or you are doomed to chapter-2


    ps we can offer HF, and OE used cats: JonB@PartsRack.com

    Thanks and good luck
    Last edited by JonB ~ PartsRack; 09-16-2021 at 11:25 AM.
    Jon "JonB" Brobst ~~~~:<~ JonB@PartsRack.com


  17. #17
    Enthusiast johnnyk_6's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JonB ~ PartsRack View Post
    Cats dont plug themselves.something Up-stream is fouling the cat

    Plugs, wires, coils, oxy sensors, and more, and now KNOCK sensors!?!

    Dont just replace the cats without finding and fixing the fouler or you are doomed to chapter-2


    ps we have HF, and OE used cats JonB@PartsRack.com Thanks and good luck

    I will take it to Woodhouse to see if they can't figure out what's plugging up the cats. Hoping it's just a pop tune that's dumping fuel into the cats. Regardless, I will be reaching out about some new HF cats. Thanks JonB!

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by JonB ~ PartsRack View Post
    Cats dont plug themselves.something Up-stream is fouling the cat

    Plugs, wires, coils, oxy sensors, and more, and now KNOCK sensors!?!

    Dont just replace the cats without finding and fixing the fouler or you are doomed to chapter-2


    ps we can offer HF, and OE used cats: JonB@PartsRack.com

    Thanks and good luck
    Jon B is the place to go, he'll have the parts to you QUICK!!! He has helped me so much, I don't go anywhere else.
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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Mannny View Post
    Jon B is the place to go, he'll have the parts to you QUICK!!! He has helped me so much, I don't go anywhere else.
    ... What he said
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  20. #20
    Supporting Vendor JonB ~ PartsRack's Avatar
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    Used OE cats and rubber bracket in a UPS box, shipping tomorrow to get you driving....
    HF cats ship in 5-6 weeks.

    Thanks

    Thanks Manny and Serpent for the kind words.......
    Jon "JonB" Brobst ~~~~:<~ JonB@PartsRack.com


  21. #21
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    Fred at the Blair store is great to deal with. Very knowledgeable.

  22. #22
    Enthusiast johnnyk_6's Avatar
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    JonB got me set up with some high-flow cats, and an OEM to tie me over until those ship. Thanks so much for your help JonB!

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by johnnyk_6 View Post
    I will take it to Woodhouse to see if they can't figure out what's plugging up the cats. Hoping it's just a pop tune that's dumping fuel into the cats. Regardless, I will be reaching out about some new HF cats. Thanks JonB!
    I repaired several Gen 3 cars that would repeatedly go through cats. It was almost always a cracked factory shorty header. There is an oxygen sensor in the header when the inside bracing cracks the oxygen sensor will read lean the computer dumps extra fuel until the cat plugs.

    This is very easy to smoke test through the exhaust pipe and check. Do not just install cats you will have the same problem in 1500 miles.

    On a lot of Ontario cars we would just install the full Belanger system because with the expense of the cats and manifolds you are almost at the same cost.

    Good luck

  24. #24
    You could have a bad injector on that bank uf this is the second converter on that side.. maybe running extreme rich. Could be washing cyl down also. Oil smell like fuel?

  25. #25
    Enthusiast johnnyk_6's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Garron View Post
    I repaired several Gen 3 cars that would repeatedly go through cats. It was almost always a cracked factory shorty header. There is an oxygen sensor in the header when the inside bracing cracks the oxygen sensor will read lean the computer dumps extra fuel until the cat plugs.

    This is very easy to smoke test through the exhaust pipe and check. Do not just install cats you will have the same problem in 1500 miles.

    On a lot of Ontario cars we would just install the full Belanger system because with the expense of the cats and manifolds you are almost at the same cost.

    Good luck
    I will ask the shop to check for this - thanks a lot for the info.

    Quote Originally Posted by SRT_BluByU View Post
    You could have a bad injector on that bank uf this is the second converter on that side.. maybe running extreme rich. Could be washing cyl down also. Oil smell like fuel?
    Oil doesn't seem to smell like fuel. The previous cat that failed was on the passenger side, so now cats have failed on both sides. Will ask the shop to check all injectors regardless. Thanks!


 
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