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Old 04-02-2010, 11:08 PM   #1
85_SS
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Default Raw fuel destroy catalytic converter?

I decided to charge the battery on the dead '93 to see if I could get it started/mobile (figure the timing chaing skipped, but nothing to loose as I'm just curious). I had turned the key to unlock the wheel to move the car a bit, but didn't realize I left the key in the on position. The whole time the battery was charging, the fuel pump was apparently running, which eventually filled the exhaust until raw liquid gas started coming out of the weep hole in the muffler.

I thought this was a bit odd - with the key on, it should run the pump for a second or two to prime, but not steady like that. That's a heck of a lot of fuel to fill the combustion chambers and the entire exhaust system. I'm curious to see if it does the same thing once the battery is charged up (it was completely dead when I started charging it).

Now, the front half of the exhaust on this car is nearly brand new and I planned to save it for my '96 that replaced this car. I jacked up the front end and drilled a hole in the low spot before the muffler (with a fire extinguisher nearby!) to drain all the gas, but it was in there for a few hours or so with the cat likely completely submerged in raw fuel.

Would a raw fuel bath destroy this basically new converter? I understand they are a ceramic honeycomb with some coating on the surface of the cermic - would all this be essentially washed off by the fuel? I don't want to waste time swapping it on and finding out during the next e-test...

...
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Old 04-03-2010, 01:16 AM   #2
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Default Re: Raw fuel destroy catalytic converter?

IMO once the gas evaporates the catalytic converter will be fine. Don't even think about starting the car until you are certain the gas has dissipated.

My DOHC LLO engine always operated on the rich side and the converters never lasted. I replaced the O2 sensors every time I changed the cat... The engine always ran great.

I replaced my converter 3 times in 200k miles on my SC... The ceramic matrix would rattle from being destroyed.

The first replacement converter was OEM, the 2nd and 3rd ones were generic replacements. The generics worked fine.

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Old 04-03-2010, 02:03 AM   #3
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Default Re: Raw fuel destroy catalytic converter?

Quote:
Originally Posted by BobbyP View Post
My DOHC LLO engine always operated on the rich side and the converters never lasted. I replaced the O2 sensors every time I changed the cat... The engine always ran great.

I replaced my converter 3 times in 200k miles on my SC... The ceramic matrix would rattle from being destroyed.

The first replacement converter was OEM, the 2nd and 3rd ones were generic replacements. The generics worked fine.
Sounds like you have some pretty bad luck there. I've never had to replace a catalytic converter on any of my many S-Series for anything other than physcial damage. My father drives my old 1993 SW2 with 350,000 miles on it. Still has the original cat and passes emissions tests with on issues.

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Old 04-03-2010, 09:19 AM   #4
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Default Re: Raw fuel destroy catalytic converter?

Might want to find out why the injectors were open and the pump ran also. Sounds like some unauthorized electrical issues. I would be looking for a grounded wire between the injectors and the PCM. Even if the pump ran continuously the injectors are not supposed to leak.

Raw gas destroys the CAT by grossly overheating it. You can disconnect the ignition module or pull its fuse and crank the engine to pump air into the exhaust and blow it out. Short runs( 1 or 2 minutes max) will be fine to dry it out. You will have to blow it out as moder gas takes forever to evaporate from a closed system like a flooded exhaust.

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Old 04-03-2010, 10:17 AM   #5
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Default Re: Raw fuel destroy catalytic converter?

Yes, the car is retired as a parts car - I'm actually more concerned with the cat than the engine.

I was thinking perhaps the battery being charged from dead somehow screwed up the ECM into running the pump steady, but someone on another board mentioned it might be the pump looking for a specific pressure in the lines, and a stuck open injector not allowing that pressure to be reached, thus running continuously. Either way, it would just be out of curiosity as I am not fixing this car.

I've understand that unburnt fuel running through a hot cat will definitely destroy it, but it's hard to track down whether liquid fuel will cause a problem - it's a pretty unique situation I guess.

Bonehead move with the ignition on - I just happed to roll the car back in the driveway and needed to unlock the steering wheel, and forgot to remove the key when I was done. Best bet with a completely dead battery is to disconnect it when charging.

...
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Old 04-03-2010, 10:46 AM   #6
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Default Re: Raw fuel destroy catalytic converter?

Just extract the CAT from under the car and suspend it in the sun with the pipe vertical. It will dry out sufficiently to be OK if it was still good before. Its the additives in the oil that kill it usually. Raw gas into a hot CAT send the temperature up to the melt point for the internal brick as long as there is sufficient oxygen available.


Fuel pump/PCM has no idea of what the fuel pressure is. Other cars do but no S-Series does.

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Old 04-03-2010, 01:43 PM   #7
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Default Re: Raw fuel destroy catalytic converter?

Thanks - I tried turning the key on with the battery charger going and it wouldn't do anything this time. Seems like a fluke thing that the ECM went haywire with the dead battery and charger going.

Front half of the exhaust is removed and baking in the sun on my deck. Despite the terrible outer appearance, I'm amazed at how solid the original midpipe is on this old girl.
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...
1996 Saturn SC1 -5spd Daily Driver
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Old 04-03-2010, 01:52 PM   #8
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Default Re: Raw fuel destroy catalytic converter?

It will eventually dry out. Then when it is in its new home you will find out if it is still good. It should be.

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Old 10-06-2010, 07:11 AM   #9
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Default Re: Raw fuel destroy catalytic converter?

What is that portion of the exhaust that has the metal braiding around it, ahead of the catalytic converter?

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Old 10-06-2010, 08:43 AM   #10
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Default Re: Raw fuel destroy catalytic converter?

Flex pipe - has more flexibility to allow for movement; a solid pipe will eventually break

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Old 10-06-2010, 08:53 AM   #11
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Default Re: Raw fuel destroy catalytic converter?

As an update - this exhaust was just recently installed on the '96 and everything is fine.

...
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Old 10-06-2010, 12:46 PM   #12
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Default Re: Raw fuel destroy catalytic converter?

i would really be concerned with all that raw gas igniting in the exhaust causing much damage from an explolsion. muffler blown open, ect. one time i had an old car that i just put on a shiney ss exhaust. on the other hand my heater control valve leaked & sprayed all over the points distributer, causing the car to misfilre & it backfired destroying the muffler, blowing it wide open like a bomb. i'll never forget that loud explosion as my neighbor was on a ladder & almost fell off it!

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Old 10-06-2010, 01:15 PM   #13
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Default Re: Raw fuel destroy catalytic converter?

Exhaust was cut off the old car back in April - plenty of time for the fuel to evaporate

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Old 10-08-2010, 07:13 AM   #14
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Default Re: Raw fuel destroy catalytic converter?

Quote:
Originally Posted by OldNuc View Post
Might want to find out why the injectors were open and the pump ran also. Sounds like some unauthorized electrical issues. I would be looking for a grounded wire between the injectors and the PCM. Even if the pump ran continuously the injectors are not supposed to leak.

Raw gas destroys the CAT by grossly overheating it. You can disconnect the ignition module or pull its fuse and crank the engine to pump air into the exhaust and blow it out. Short runs( 1 or 2 minutes max) will be fine to dry it out. You will have to blow it out as moder gas takes forever to evaporate from a closed system like a flooded exhaust.
You are 100% correct. Injectors are not supposed to leak open like that. Other problems exist.

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Old 10-08-2010, 07:26 AM   #15
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Default Re: Raw fuel destroy catalytic converter?

Car is in pieces and the timing belt went so I'm not too concerned about the injectors. I was only concerned at the time as I wanted to swap this relatively new exhaust onto the '96, which is where it is now with no issues

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Old 10-09-2010, 04:37 PM   #16
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Default Re: Raw fuel destroy catalytic converter?

to charge a battery still in the car, you're supposed to disconnect the battery cables on the car, and then connect the charger to the battery. don't leave the car's battery cables connected while charging.

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Old 10-11-2010, 07:57 PM   #17
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Happy Re: Raw fuel destroy catalytic converter?

As odd as this may sound, a leaf blower works great to dry out a converter and also works quite nicely to flush out any debris captured in an exhaust system .

Blow in reverse (pressurize the exhaust end) and aim the inlet end away from anyone's faces of course.

I did this when a converter self destructed on an older vehicle. You can't believe the cloud that came out of the entrance to the muffler. An you wouldn't want to breathe any of it either.

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