99 4Runner Emissions Problem - Please Help!!! - Toyota Nation Forum : Toyota Car and Truck Forums


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Old 02-23-2009, 11:06 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Question 99 4Runner Emissions Problem - Please Help!!!

I have a 99 4Runner 3.4L that seems to enjoy pushing me closer to the brink of insanity.
First off, let me mention that it has California Emissions. Because of this fact, buying this car has been placed in my list of top 3 mistakes I have ever made.

Last year the check engine light came on. I went and had the code read and it came up with p0420 (catalyst efficiency). I took it to my local muffler shop and the guy put a new catalytic converter on for me and reset the code. No problem. After about 300-400 miles, the light came back on. I went and again had the codes read. Surprise...Surprise.. p0420.
At this point I was advised to replace the o2 sensors and I did. Of course it was a pain in the rear to get the correct sensors for CA emissions and they were a bit more expensive. Anyway, installed the sensors and had the code reset. Felt a bit better when I cranked the car up and the light was off, but not for long. After about 25 miles, the light came back on. At this point and about 500 dollars later, I'm getting a little worried. The lights on, but the car still runs great.
After having the code checked again, it was of course p0420... I waited a couple of weeks before calling the muffler shop again. I was told that sometimes aftermarket cats for CA emissions don't work properly. I told him that I was never informed of this during my initial visit and he said he could warranty out the cat I had gotten installed and he would try another one that might work better. I figured it was worth a shot, so last week I went and had another aftermarket cat installed and the code was once again reset.
I bet you guys can guess what happened right? The light came back on after about 300 miles. When I saw it I actually pulled over in a parking lot and just stared at it. I thought seriously about just getting out, putting a FREE sign in the window and walking home. But, after thinking about the 25 degree temperature outside, I just drove home instead.
This morning I called the muffler shop guy and he told me I might just need to get the factory cats from Toyota. He said that sometimes you just have to "bite the bullet". Well, after calling Toyota and getting a price of $2,078 dollars for the front and rear cats, a bullet doesn't sound too bad.
My question is I guess...
Is this true? Does anyone have any experience at anything close to this? Am I being told the truth that I have to buy factory cats? Do I have any options at all?

Any help at all would really be appreciated. I'm at the end of my rope on this one and really getting tired of seeing a check engine light.

Thanks Guys...
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Old 02-23-2009, 10:41 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Have you had an emissions test run on it? A catalytic converter is not going to burn out in 25 miles or even 300 miles. In fact, most last the life of the car, so I'm thinking it is probably something else wrong, perhaps a shorted wire from an O2 sensor or possibly even the ECM computer behind the glove box.

Converters only go bad if they are plugged or poisoned. If the converter is plugged, the car will run like crap or not at all. Fuel mileage will be terrible and you will get a very bad "rotten egg" smell. Too much fuel additives can poison the catalyst inside the converter or excessive idling can also ruin your converter by not allowing the water inside to burn off, thus rusting the converter out from the inside. You will know if that has happened by the load rattling sound coming from underneath your passenger seat. You said the car runs great, so it probably isn't the cat converter. An emission test will tell you for sure though.

Also, check your spark plugs to make sure you aren't running overly rich. The plugs will be carbon fouled if you are. They should be a light tan color on the electrode end.
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Old 02-24-2009, 06:34 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Hi, and thanks for the response.

I have not had an emissions test, but from what I am being told it is not a catalytic converter "failure". What I am hearing is that the emissions system on a California Emissions vehicle is so strict that sometimes after-market cats don't perform to the lower tolerances of the more sensitive o2 sensors. They have told me that the cats are fine on my 4runner and are virtually still brand new, but I need to "try" the factory cats. I don't want to "try" over $2000 worth of parts. If I ever have to spend that amount on this car, I want to know it's going to fix it. I've been up the "lets try this" road one too many times with mechanics.
Oh, and I did a tune up a little over a year ago, so the plugs are new.
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Old 03-03-2009, 12:19 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Clean your MAF. See here
http://www.4x4wire.com/toyota/mainte...tenancep5.html
I had several different codes come up, cleaned the MAF cleared the codes and they never came back!
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Old 03-03-2009, 07:49 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Looks like you need to use a factory catalytic converter. I have seen many aftermarket ones fail immediately or shortly after installation on domestic and Asian cars.
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