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Old 03-05-2015, 03:24 AM #1
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Updated: Aftermarket Catalytic Converter, P0420 & P0440

I've searched and read, and searched some more so please be gentle. There's mixed reviews and opinions all over, but not much info on those who have actually replaced their catalytic converter and even fewer with the results a couple years down the road.

I may be on the verge of having to replace my cats. Dealership said I needed them after throwing P0420. They said the front cat broke and then in turn ruined the rear. Although unsure how they saw this. Nonetheless, thanks to this site, I've been trying my hand at replacing sensors, cleaning MAF & TB but no luck just yet.

I noticed some members here had replaced their cats a while back, but was wondering if that fixed your CEL issue even years after the fact. I enjoy fixing issues myself, but also believe in doing a job right...if that means biting the bullet for cats then that's what I'll do, but I don't want to purchase some aftermarket part that will throw a light a year later. By the way I have a 2002 Limited so I have to 2 cat setup.

My goal is to have my truck in working order, removing the CEL, and getting cats if need be. Not interested in the sensor simulator. Any advice or examples where you've fixed the issue is much appreciated.

Thanks for your time.
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Last edited by derek l; 10-30-2015 at 04:51 PM. Reason: update title to reflect the thread more accurately
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Old 03-05-2015, 04:03 AM #2
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Personally I would search out a after market solutions and go that route catalytic converters have been around so long I would felt comfortable doing so with good branded product... I used davico manufacturer (Walker is another goodone a friend used on his tacoma) and have been running it for 5 years now without problems. Of course I made 100% my diag was in place before doing so by reading the 02 sensors spec with a scan tool making 100% before replacing. From the scan tool functions I created a custom monitoring list by selecting in my scan tool only wanting to see live data from coolant temp and 02 readings. When u have that setup watching the 02 levels with everything at temp running the engine at 3200 rpm I noticed the 02 jumping around frantically from lean to rich. Typically u should see Bank 2 not changing as much as bank 1 and the reading staying pretty steady. Another method I am not a big fan of is with a laser temperature gauge checking the temp at the front of the cat and at the rear. If your temp shows example 500 degrees at the front and at the back of the cat the temp is example 350 degrees then there is a flow issue u should see consistent temp at both ends. Granted the dealer should of preformed the mentioned method and confirmed that for ya and u shouldn't have to redo a tech work but u have those tech that simply just guess so... I would do a exact bolt on cat going aftermarket.

What part of TN are u in.
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Old 03-05-2015, 08:59 AM #3
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I bought an aftermarket CARB-certified rear cat when mine got stolen. I don't remember the brand, but it was the most expensive one out there, solely due to the CARB stamp, which is complete BS and a rant for another time. If I had to do it over, based on conversations with Toyota techs, I would go with any direct-fit OEM-styled aftermarket cat.


It worked fine for several years, then one day I got teh 0420 code again, which I assume is for the front due to its age and mileage. I haven't tested them beyond a thermometer (Temps should be hotter on the outlet than on the inlet, btw).



Added an 02 sim and haven't had to worry about it. One day I may try the acetone test...


But I would not hesitate to run a direct-fit aftermarket cat. I would not run a universal cut-to-fit aftermarket cat.
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Old 03-05-2015, 09:43 AM #4
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Have you replaced the rear O2 sensor with a Denso part?

I just had the same issue and the new sensor fixed it. Been going for over a week with no CEL, and the ECU has set emissions ready status.

When I bought mine I had to replace the front sensor, then a couple of months later the CEL came back on and indicated the rear sensor. I ran it like that for a while just assuming it was bad cats, and finally decided to try the sensor. It's about $50 from Rock Auto for the Denso part for a CA vehicle (mine is).
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Old 03-05-2015, 11:04 AM #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SilverRidgeRunner1 View Post
What part of TN are u in.
Thanks for the info. Iím in Whites Creek, itís just NW of Nashville. Currently looking at around 6 in of snow!


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Originally Posted by animator View Post
It worked fine for several years, then one day I got the 0420 code again, which I assume is for the front due to its age and mileageÖ.

Added an 02 sim and havenít had to worry about it.
Yeah, thatís what Iím afraid of. I hate to buy some aftermarket cats then have them fail later. Guess itís a chance you take. Thanks for the info.

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Have you replaced the rear O2 sensor with a Denso part?

I just had the same issue and the new sensor fixed it. Been going for over a week with no CEL, and the ECU has set emissions ready status.
Thatís awesome! I was hoping for the same results.

Yeah I used denso for both front (a/f) and rear (o2). I unplugged the EFI while replacing the rear but going to try disconnecting battery cable to force it I guess. Iíve heard mixed stories on whether I should just ďlet the new sensors do their jobĒ or force a reset. Iíd love it if thatís all it was.
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Old 03-05-2015, 11:24 AM #6
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If you're getting a 0420 code, it's most likely not the sensors, as they send their own signal back to the ecm, and if that signal is bad, you'd be seeing a code for the sensor itself, which is a different code from the catalytic efficiency code you're getting now.


Going with aftermarket cats only to have them last less than 5 years is what got me to go with the sim. I may at some point replace them as a pair so I at least know they're both in working order, but until then, the sim gets me through inspection, and that's what matters around here..
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Old 03-05-2015, 11:33 AM #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by animator View Post
If you're getting a 0420 code, it's most likely not the sensors, as they send their own signal back to the ecm, and if that signal is bad, you'd be seeing a code for the sensor itself, which is a different code from the catalytic efficiency code you're getting now.


Going with aftermarket cats only to have them last less than 5 years is what got me to go with the sim. I may at some point replace them as a pair so I at least know they're both in working order, but until then, the sim gets me through inspection, and that's what matters around here..

It depends on how the sensor fails. A bad sensor will commonly throw the 0420 catalyst efficiency code in certain failure modes. That's exactly what mine was doing and the sensor replacement corrected it.
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Old 03-05-2015, 11:40 AM #8
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i've used oem fit from magnaflow on other cars. No issues with fit and it bolted in place. I've never had to check on them for the 4runner, but i presume they have an oem fit as well.
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Old 03-05-2015, 06:09 PM #9
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I'll try to be gentle OP, but I swear I have written about this about 10 times... Just buy an aftermarket.

Do you like flushing money down the toilet? Do you find that your wife only finds your fireplace warm and romantic when you are burning logs of shredded $20's? If you do, then go ahead and buy OEM. They are over $1k each, so you can spend $2500 to replace them both, and have the peace of mind that you are getting OEM quality and that you are a sucker that hates money. While you're at it, have the dealer replace them for you for an additional $700 in labor.

Aftermarket CAT's work just fine, I've been running my eastern CAT's for several years with no problem, no codes, no explosions, no spontaneous animation of demon spawn murdering me for using CAT's that don't contain platinum... Everything is fine, and the world is still turning. Same for many others...

Also, the O2 sensors can be finnicky. Denso has proprietary material in the sensing element so they work better and last longer than all the other brands, so go with Denso. And yes, a bad sensor can give you a P0420 code. The sensors can get clogged and damaged causing a mis-reading and a false code. With vehicles as old as all 3rd gens are though, it's probably just the cat's finally crapping out.

You're in TN, which I didn't think even had inspections, but just know that using a simulator in most states is illegal and you can get fined if you get caught. Most states you probably won't get caught, but it's up to you to decide if it's worth it. You also then know that your CAT's are busted and not getting fixed, for whatever that's worth to you (or maybe they're just at 94.8% efficiency instead of the 95% required to not throw a P0420... who knows).
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Old 03-05-2015, 09:04 PM #10
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Mine went out a few years ago and was really surprised how much toyota ones were because originally I wanted oem parts. Instead I got a custom 2.5" full stainless exhaust with a magnaflow high flow cat and borla xr-1 muffler for cheaper than JUST the toyota cat not including labor! Then after a few months I got the cat code again so I got the urd 02 sim and haven't had the code thrown since and that's been close to 3 years now and about 35,000 miles. So the cheapest way would be get an aftermarket cat and then the urd sim. Good thing about the urd sim is it only intercepts the cat code and won't completely prohibit you're engine check light
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Old 03-06-2015, 12:40 AM #11
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I suspect(but haven't measured anything yet) that my cat('97, 49-state, single cat) may be going....yeah---$1599....nice!
Based on previous experience, I can say that it seems that the aftermarket ones are guaranteed not to last as long as the original. I had an aftermarket one on a 22RE that went 2 years.
It's all a question of cheapness: an aftermarket unit every x years, or the OEM one once.
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Old 03-06-2015, 01:06 AM #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nelsonmd View Post
I'll try to be gentle OP, but I swear I have written about this about 10 times... Just buy an aftermarket.

Do you like flushing money down the toilet? Do you find that your wife only finds your fireplace warm and romantic when you are burning logs of shredded $20's? If you do, then go ahead and buy OEM. They are over $1k each, so you can spend $2500 to replace them both, and have the peace of mind that you are getting OEM quality and that you are a sucker that hates money. While you're at it, have the dealer replace them for you for an additional $700 in labor.

Aftermarket CAT's work just fine, I've been running my eastern CAT's for several years with no problem, no codes, no explosions, no spontaneous animation of demon spawn murdering me for using CAT's that don't contain platinum... Everything is fine, and the world is still turning. Same for many others...

Also, the O2 sensors can be finnicky. Denso has proprietary material in the sensing element so they work better and last longer than all the other brands, so go with Denso. And yes, a bad sensor can give you a P0420 code. The sensors can get clogged and damaged causing a mis-reading and a false code. With vehicles as old as all 3rd gens are though, it's probably just the cat's finally crapping out.

You're in TN, which I didn't think even had inspections, but just know that using a simulator in most states is illegal and you can get fined if you get caught. Most states you probably won't get caught, but it's up to you to decide if it's worth it. You also then know that your CAT's are busted and not getting fixed, for whatever that's worth to you (or maybe they're just at 94.8% efficiency instead of the 95% required to not throw a P0420... who knows).
Your posts are the ones I read the most (thanks for that), but never heard back anything from more than a year after yours were replaced that I saw. As I mentioned I’ve replaced both sensors with Denso and I’d rather not use a sim. We have emissions testing in my county but most TN counties do not. Thanks for your additional info and I truly appreciate your help on this forum.

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It's all a question of cheapness: an aftermarket unit every x years, or the OEM one once.
Exactly!

Another thing I forgot to mention...what's weird is that I passed emissions about 1 week before my check engine like came on and the dealer said both my cats were bad. Don't know much about emissions testing, but if the cats were that bad seems odd it would even pass.

Thanks to those who have replied. Like I mentioned there's several "yeah buy aftermarket" posts out there, but few that follow up after they are installed and ever fewer, if any, that confirm they work years later.

Thanks again! Any additional info and opinions are always welcomed
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Old 03-06-2015, 04:12 PM #13
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Quote:
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Your posts are the ones I read the most (thanks for that), but never heard back anything from more than a year after yours were replaced that I saw. As I mentioned Iíve replaced both sensors with Denso and Iíd rather not use a sim. We have emissions testing in my county but most TN counties do not. Thanks for your additional info and I truly appreciate your help on this forum.



Exactly!

Another thing I forgot to mention...what's weird is that I passed emissions about 1 week before my check engine like came on and the dealer said both my cats were bad. Don't know much about emissions testing, but if the cats were that bad seems odd it would even pass.

Thanks to those who have replied. Like I mentioned there's several "yeah buy aftermarket" posts out there, but few that follow up after they are installed and ever fewer, if any, that confirm they work years later.

Thanks again! Any additional info and opinions are always welcomed
I hope you saw the humor in my post and didn't take it critically...

I kind of disagree with the formula Pluton gave because of the scales involved. The OEM cats are in the range of 7-8x the cost of an aftermarket one ($300/pr vs about $1k each). Pluton said his lasted 2 years, which is just 1 data point and says nothing about the actual lifetime of them, I mean mine are over 2 years now, and I dont' see others saying that their aftermarket cat;s are only lasting 2 years. Regardless, you just aren't going to overcome the price difference of OEM cat's, especially considering the age of these things, so if the OEM ones are really stating to fail around 15 years, the what is the likelihood of the 4runner lasting another 15 years in your ownership? Even the hardcore fans here likely won't have them in 15 years. You'd HAVE to keep it the entire 15 years to make your money back.
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Old 03-06-2015, 08:30 PM #14
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Nelsonmd I didnít, I appreciate the info. You've been the only one thus far with a success story that I've found on aftermarket cats standing up to the 'ol CEL. Most people mention replacing the cats then using a sim.

I made the post in hopes that some of those guys that replaced theirs a while back, like yourself, could update us on how they were holding up.

Maybe we'll get some feedback from more people that have had luck...

If I do replace my cats I'll report back here in hopes that it will provide helpful to someone in the future.

Thanks guys!
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Old 10-30-2015, 04:45 PM #15
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Update

I always find it helpful when members follow up on issues theyíve had so I thought I would do the same in case it helps anyone. What I have learned about my 4Runner is from this site and just tinkering. I hope this follow up helps someone else.

P0420 was my original problem. As I mentioned I tried new sensors, cleaning MAF & TB with no luck. I later had my cats replaced with some weld on aftermarket ones to keep cost down. This solved the P0420, so far at least. I donít drive much.

Then later I had a P0440 code pop up (Evaporative Emission Control System Malfunction) which I havenít had before. It was always the P0420. I had the smoke test done and it was the evap canister. I have the 2002 so the canister is above the spare tire and was in bad shape so I had it replaced. This has also, so far, cleared up the fuel smell I was experiencing.

If I have any more updates (good or bad) Iíll update the thread again.
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