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Old 06-28-2015, 07:40 PM   #1
solidhadriel
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Default Failed smog 3x due to NOx. Out of ideas....

Alright, so a while back when I first purchased my car, I installed new heads and went to smog the car. It failed emissions.

I decided to do a full tear-down and rebuild, and finished that about a month ago. This included a new egr, bored out engine, new spark plugs, new plug wires, etc. I took it to get smogged again, and it passed everything with flying colors BUT NOx.

NO (PPM)
(15 mph) Max allowed: 487
(15 mph) Average: 67
(15 mph) Measured: 1178

(25 mph) Max allowed: 774
(25 mph) Average: 62
(25 mph) Measured: 1235

I figured it could be catalytic related since we use a 3-way cat. So I ordered a new CA Carb catalytic bolt on from Eastern (by the way, I would not recommend them. I'll write about those details later.)

And took the car for a re-test today - again, everything was measured near 0 BUT NO:

(15 mph) Max allowed: 487
(15 mph) Average: 67
(15 mph) Measured: 989

(25 mph) Max allowed: 774
(25 mph) Average: 62
(25 mph) Measured: 1076

List of things I've replaced:
- EGR
- Catalytic Converter
- Spark Plugs
- Spark Plug wires
- Rebuilt engine / new gaskets

I'm out of ideas on what to replace? Should I take my entire intake off and either boil it, or replace it with a lower mileage intake? (My car has 278k miles.) I've already tried cleaning my egr port with carb cleaner and running the engine on for 10 seconds without the egr attached.

Any ideas?

...
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Old 06-28-2015, 08:41 PM   #2
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Default Re: Failed smog 3x due to NOx. Out of ideas....

One more time from the top. If the AF ratio is less than 14.7:1 on average the HC and CO will be low and the NOx will be max. If the AF ratio is greater than 14.7 on average the HC and CO will be elevated and the NOx will be low and decreasing the greater the departure from the AF ratio of 14.7:1.

I would suspect you are running rich and that is what is driving the NOx high. It does not require a drastic departure from the optimal control band either to be excessively rich.

I have a nice graph that shows all of this but as is usual it is off hiding. ...

You can not get any decent info at idle either as it is eye watering rich by design.

Boxes to check as function is correct
  • ECTS function
  • IAT function
  • TTS function if automatic
  • Thermostat function
  • MAP dynamic response
  • Exhaust leak tight


All pipe connections between the head and cat inlet must be welded or sealed with band clamps that will pas a 7psi leak test with no bubbles using a commercial leak test fluid. You can probably test the head and lower flange gaskets with soapy water. If there is a preCAT is it melted or just removed? Blocked preCAT will cause this. What is the main CAT shell temperature at idle? This condition does not set any codes and a scanner will tell you little as it is a closed loop control system. The best info is the steady state value of the LTFT at a steady 50-65 mph after 5 minutes of driving at steady operating temperature. operation.

The left panel is what is coming from the engine and into the cat and the right panel is the cat output. The problem is if you are slightly to the rich side of the desired 14.7 band the NOx removal stops.
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Old 06-28-2015, 08:57 PM   #3
solidhadriel
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Default Re: Failed smog 3x due to NOx. Out of ideas....

Boxes to check as function is correct
  • [X]ECTS function (New brass one installed when I did the heads)
  • IAT function
    [X]TTS function if automatic (5-sp manual)
    [X]Thermostat function (Replaced when heads redone
  • MAP dynamic response
    [~]Exhaust leak tight (Possible. The new eastern cat had leaking issues right off the bat, we ended up using 3 gaskets to get the leak to stop. I know that should not be done, but we haven't figured out how to stop it from leaking with 1.

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Old 06-28-2015, 10:21 PM   #4
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Default Re: Failed smog 3x due to NOx. Out of ideas....

OK, Take a look at the graph. This one is easier to understand.

Then get some professional leak check and verify that the gasket at the head and lower manifold flange is not leaking then check the remainder for leaks.

What about the preCAT? Is there one?

Actually pressurize a cold exhaust and soak down the braid over the flex joint to see if it is cracked.

Exhaust leak check.
--Locate a low pressure high volume air source, reversible vacuum cleaner, large fan, leaf blower or what ever you can find.
--Loosely couple to cold exhaust at the tail pipe, or direct fan at tail pipe.
--Spray every inch of the exhaust between the head and CAT inlet with a mixture of 2 or 3 drops of dish soap and water in a spray bottle.
--Pay close attention to the lower flange, lower support clamp, and flex connector.
--The flex connector is under the protective braid so it requires quite a bit of solution to show any leaks.

Do you have anyway to read the fuel trim? Scanner smartphone app?

Need to actually verify the sensors are providing good data to the PCM.
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Old 06-29-2015, 12:22 AM   #5
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Default Re: Failed smog 3x due to NOx. Out of ideas....

Quote:
Originally Posted by OldNuc View Post
OK, Take a look at the graph. This one is easier to understand.

Then get some professional leak check and verify that the gasket at the head and lower manifold flange is not leaking then check the remainder for leaks.

What about the preCAT? Is there one?

Actually pressurize a cold exhaust and soak down the braid over the flex joint to see if it is cracked.

Exhaust leak check.
--Locate a low pressure high volume air source, reversible vacuum cleaner, large fan, leaf blower or what ever you can find.
--Loosely couple to cold exhaust at the tail pipe, or direct fan at tail pipe.
--Spray every inch of the exhaust between the head and CAT inlet with a mixture of 2 or 3 drops of dish soap and water in a spray bottle.
--Pay close attention to the lower flange, lower support clamp, and flex connector.
--The flex connector is under the protective braid so it requires quite a bit of solution to show any leaks.

Do you have anyway to read the fuel trim? Scanner smartphone app?

Need to actually verify the sensors are providing good data to the PCM.
Hey Nuc, I'll check out your graphs tomorrow when I'm not so tired.

And sorry, forgot to mention, there is no precat on this one. I'm going to guess that a car with 278k miles might have a couple of bad o2 sensors, even if they aren't throwing any CELs. So that's my next move...

I appreciate the help - as always!

...
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Old 06-29-2015, 08:17 AM   #6
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1998 SC2
Default Re: Failed smog 3x due to NOx. Out of ideas....

Do not spend money throwing parts at it. O2 sensors either work or st codes. They do not generate bad info without letting you know. There is only 1 control sensor on the car and it is the front one.

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Old 06-29-2015, 11:26 AM   #7
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Default Re: Failed smog 3x due to NOx. Out of ideas....

NOx is high because combustion chamber temperatures are too high.
The function of the exhaust gas recirculation system is that it introduces exhaust gas into the combustion chamber, thereby lowering CC temperatures and NOx emmisions.

Remove the EGR valve. Start the engine. It should immediately rev up to about 4000 RPM and hit the rev limiter. If this happens, get some seafoam or other Carb cleaner, and spray it in the ports and let it soak for a little while, then restart to blow it out. Double check the operation of the EGR valve.

If the Car idles normally, your ports are clogged, preventing the egr system from working and causing high NOx emmisions. Take a bicycle brake cable (or something similar) and fray one end. Put the other end in a cordless drill, and let 'er rip.

Do this until the engine revs up and hits the limiter with the EGR valve off.

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Old 06-29-2015, 12:10 PM   #8
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Default Re: Failed smog 3x due to NOx. Out of ideas....

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve44 View Post
NOx is high because combustion chamber temperatures are too high.
The function of the exhaust gas recirculation system is that it introduces exhaust gas into the combustion chamber, thereby lowering CC temperatures and NOx emmisions.

Remove the EGR valve. Start the engine. It should immediately rev up to about 4000 RPM and hit the rev limiter. If this happens, get some seafoam or other Carb cleaner, and spray it in the ports and let it soak for a little while, then restart to blow it out. Double check the operation of the EGR valve.

If the Car idles normally, your ports are clogged, preventing the egr system from working and causing high NOx emmisions. Take a bicycle brake cable (or something similar) and fray one end. Put the other end in a cordless drill, and let 'er rip.

Do this until the engine revs up and hits the limiter with the EGR valve off.
Steve, I've already removed the EGR and idled the car. The car shot up to 4k RPMs which I'm assuming is what it's supposed to. I've sprayed carb cleaner in there and this made no affect. This was all before my second smog.

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Old 06-29-2015, 12:22 PM   #9
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Default Re: Failed smog 3x due to NOx. Out of ideas....

The EGR is Closed during the CA smog test under almost all conditions and definitely in the low RPM phase.

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Old 06-29-2015, 12:24 PM   #10
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Default Re: Failed smog 3x due to NOx. Out of ideas....

Quote:
Originally Posted by OldNuc View Post
Do not spend money throwing parts at it. O2 sensors either work or st codes. They do not generate bad info without letting you know. There is only 1 control sensor on the car and it is the front one.
I've pretty much done everything but o2 sensors. So at this point I think I might do it. I was told by an exhaust specialist that my o2 sensors should have been changed a couple times with the amount of miles my car has on it.

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Old 06-29-2015, 12:47 PM   #11
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Default Re: Failed smog 3x due to NOx. Out of ideas....

That is self serving B.S. from someone who wants to sell you a pair of overpriced sensors at least 1 of which you clearly do not need and a 2nd which is probably fine. They do not fail from high mileage!

You are running slightly rich and that could very well be a pin hole sized exhaust leak in the right spot. Pressure test the exhaust. It will take somewhere close to an hour to do it right. Really need to have the ability to read LTFT at 45mph steady state. 70-100 dollar scanner or a smartphone app for about 1/4 to 1/2 of that depending on the phone, Apple costs more.You are going to throw more time and good money away guessing than just going out and buying the proper tools to do this as you will eventually end up dropping 125+/hr to some shop to do it for you.

To make good bubbles cheaply go buy a couple of bottles of kids bubble blowing solution and mix with 30% to 50 % clean water. Dish soap does not really work well.

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Old 06-29-2015, 12:53 PM   #12
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Default Re: Failed smog 3x due to NOx. Out of ideas....

A decent scanner will show you a O2 sensor that is not functioning correctly along with all the temp sensors. Time and money well spent to fix this.

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Old 06-30-2015, 02:02 AM   #13
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Default Re: Failed smog 3x due to NOx. Out of ideas....

Quote:
Originally Posted by solidhadriel View Post
Steve, I've already removed the EGR and idled the car. The car shot up to 4k RPMs which I'm assuming is what it's supposed to. I've sprayed carb cleaner in there and this made no affect. This was all before my second smog.
This is a good thing, but you don't mention why you got a new EGR. There have been some flaky units, so having the ports clear isn't a guarantee that the EGR system is functioning properly.


If you are dead set on replacing the O2 due to frustration and/or time constraints, etc, at least just replace the front sensor. The rear sensor does nothing but monitor that the cat is working. The front sensor does all the work in regards to mixture.

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Old 07-01-2015, 12:29 AM   #14
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Default Re: Failed smog 3x due to NOx. Out of ideas....

Add backpressure.

Some EGR valves need backpressure to work correctly.


I had the same problem with my 86 Toyota truck (22RE engine).

For smog tests I restrict the exhaust after the cat to really lower the NOX.


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Old 07-01-2015, 10:33 AM   #15
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Default Re: Failed smog 3x due to NOx. Out of ideas....

Ah, those 22RE engines are built tough! I've rebuilt two of them with my buddy.

So, I added Seafoam to my PCV last night, and saw smoke from the engine bay, it appeared to be coming from underneath the ignition coils/modules area. Not sure what to make of that.

And I also think I might still be leaking right at the connection between the exhaust manifold and new cat pipe. I'll take that off this weekend and grind the pipe down some more.

I mentioned in my earlier post that I wouldn't recommend Eastern Catalytics. They put my exhaust flange on backwards, and had the pipe sticking out. I didn't want to wait another month to fix the exhaust, so I ended up cutting and re-welding the flange on. Hopefully its not my weld that's leaking..

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Old 07-01-2015, 10:46 AM   #16
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Default Re: Failed smog 3x due to NOx. Out of ideas....

Quote:
Originally Posted by solidhadriel View Post
Ah, those 22RE engines are built tough! I've rebuilt two of them with my buddy.

So, I added Seafoam to my PCV last night, and saw smoke from the engine bay, it appeared to be coming from underneath the ignition coils/modules area. Not sure what to make of that. It means you have a crack in the expansion bellows which is under the braid or a hole in the pipe under the clamp at the lower engine-transmission support and that is why you are failing and will continue to fail until it is fixed.

And I also think I might still be leaking right at the connection between the exhaust manifold and new cat pipe. I'll take that off this weekend and grind the pipe down some more. That would be a very good idea along with the other potential holes. Those joints are best welded as clamps leak.

I mentioned in my earlier post that I wouldn't recommend Eastern Catalytics. They put my exhaust flange on backwards, and had the pipe sticking out. I didn't want to wait another month to fix the exhaust, so I ended up cutting and re-welding the flange on. Hopefully its not my weld that's leaking.. Check it for leaks, air pressure and soapy water works better than guessing.
The exhaust leaks will cause you to fail and continue to fail until fixed.

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Old 07-01-2015, 05:07 PM   #17
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Default Re: Failed smog 3x due to NOx. Out of ideas....

Hey Nuc,

Are you referring to the braid on my NEW catalytic converter? Or something else? When replacing my cats, I replaced the pipe with a new bolt on from Eastern. We tested the pipe for leaks with compressed air and soapy water, which is where we discovered a leak on the flange (which we fixed, prior to bolting the exhaust back into the car.)

I'll post some pics when I get home of the smoke I caught on my camera.

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Old 07-02-2015, 12:59 AM   #18
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Default Re: Failed smog 3x due to NOx. Out of ideas....

Ok, here is the pic as promised. I circled the area the smoke is coming from, and yet, I wasn't able to find the exact source yesterday. I'm going to run more seafoam through the PCV when I have time and try and watch it closer next run...

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File Type: jpg smoke edited.jpg (85.9 KB, 38 views)

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Old 07-02-2015, 09:02 AM   #19
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Default Re: Failed smog 3x due to NOx. Out of ideas....

Find out where it is coming from. Turn the car around it the drive as it may be nothing but a breeze. Any smoke from anything but the tip of the tail pipe is not what you want to see.

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Old 07-02-2015, 09:09 AM   #20
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Default Re: Failed smog 3x due to NOx. Out of ideas....

Is this smoke white steam (coolant), blue (oil) or black (excessive gas)?

Is the egr valve OEM or aftermarket? There are incompatibility issues with aftermarket egr valves where OEM seems to be the only replacement. Whether or not a junk yard egr valve is OEM and usable may be a cheaper alternate. With high NOx the egr isn't opening enough to allow exhaust gases to dilute the fuel/air mixture for lowering combustion temps, lowering NOx pointing to egr flow. Lowering NOx is the only purpose of egr valves. While some service manuals state the pcm uses the egr valve at all engine speeds, others state its closed at idle and wide open throttle. I doubt it's feeding exhaust gases at idle as this would drop rpm's.

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Smog Results: Failed..but only one part. Ideas TIMSPEED S-Series Tech 3 10-14-2007 04:30 PM
92 SL failed smog matthewwp S-Series Tech 4 02-17-2006 04:03 PM


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