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Old 01-29-2017, 03:46 PM   #1
pvaultguy
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Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: North Carolina
Posts: 46
My Ride: 2004 330i
Cylinder Misfire - Catalytic Converter

2004 330i with 170,000 miles had misfire codes which were caused by the catalytic converter. Recently bought the car with a known SES light for lean codes. Fixed those, then had the below adventure.

Problem solved thanks to other threads on here. These two in particular:

http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=1094774

http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=1116606

The key is that the misfire was always under acceleration/load and stayed on bank 2. Most of the time cylinder 6 P0306 code, but I would get P0304 and P0305 and P0300, on occasion.

Symptoms: misfire codes that set the 'service engine soon' light only during harder acceleration and at high RPM (usually around 5500 for me). It would then go in to a low power limp mode for a while. If I lightly accelerated to red line, I would not get any codes. It also felt like it did not have 100% power. Again, mostly cylinder 6, but always bank 2. It was usually in second gear, but I rarely tested it in 1st or 3rd as I did not want to damage the motor in 1st and top of 3rd can result in a ticket. I did test it in 3rd once and still got the misfire.

Diagnosis:
1. Swap coils between cylinders, stayed on cylinder 6.
2. Change spark plugs. The old ones were obviously old and the gap was very wide. Still had the misfire.
3. Swapped in a known good MAF (fortunate to have 2 330i's), still misfire.
4. Sprayed brake cleaner looking for vacuum leaks, no signs of leaks.
5. Checked compression. Looked good but cyl 4 was a little low at 165.
6. Installed new coils because I wanted new coils anyway. Still misfire.
7. Checked battery and alternator. They were good.
8. Changed fuel filter (due anyway). Still misfire.
9. Smoke tested. No leaks noticed.
10. Changed the oil filter housing gasket (just something else that needed to be fixed and I wasn't making a ton of progress on the misfire code!)
11. Checked vacuum caps on back of intake manifold. They were fine.
12. Checked fuel pressure at the rail. It was 3.5 bar (good).
13. Checked fuel trim. Odd result of + on bank 1 while - on bank 2
14. Checked alternator voltage again at the battery. Still good.
15. Removed pre-cat O2 sensor on bank 2 and test drove. Four pulls and no misfire!

Ultimately, I removed the catalytic converters (tough job) and installed E36 OBDII manifolds and the Spec E46 racing exhaust by MagnaFlow (plan was for this car to be the track car). Test drove again and no codes. No codes since.

One test I wish I would have ran was with the O2 sensor installed in the manifold but unplugged. I am curious if the issue was purely mechanical back pressure, or the back pressure sending a rich reading through the O2 sensor that messed up the fuel trim, which then caused the misfire.

QED
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Old 01-29-2017, 03:59 PM   #2
BaliDawg
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Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: Riverside, CA
Posts: 5,522
My Ride: E24 E32 E46 E39 E84
A few things I would have done:
- replace fuel pump if it's old
- smoke test intake and crankcase for vacuum leaks
- test exhaust system back pressure
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Old 01-29-2017, 04:41 PM   #3
jfoj
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Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Fairfax, VA USA
Posts: 22,858
My Ride: 330CiC, M5, X5, E93
What I do not understand is why no P0430??

But my guess is this car may have the original O2 sensors and often lazy O2 sensors do not trigger or over trigger P0420/P0430 depending on the situation.

I am finding TIME and TIME and TIME again as I help people out they have 150-200k+ miles on ORIGINAL O2 sensors!!!!

Be nice to your catalytic converters, O2 sensors are FAR cheaper than converter converters, change them by 100k miles!!!
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Solve your misfires, lean codes, rough idle - http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=897616

Fuel pump failures - http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=929501

Temp Info - http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=964491

Hidden OBC Menu - Check Voltage, Temp, Fuel Level - http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=239619

E46/E39 GM5 Door Lock Info - www.bmwgm5.com

Lower hose temp switch O-ring - BMW #13621743299
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Old 01-29-2017, 05:43 PM   #4
pvaultguy
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Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: North Carolina
Posts: 46
My Ride: 2004 330i
Quote:
Originally Posted by BaliDawg View Post
A few things I would have done:
- replace fuel pump if it's old
- smoke test intake and crankcase for vacuum leaks
- test exhaust system back pressure
Step 9 was a smoke test. I do plan to replace the fuel pump as maintenance but the pressure test was good. I should have tested without the O2 earlier, it's an easy test.

I failed to mention that I swapped O2 sensors from my other car and that had no impact.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jfoj View Post
What I do not understand is why no P0430??

But my guess is this car may have the original O2 sensors and often lazy O2 sensors do not trigger or over trigger P0420/P0430 depending on the situation.
Not sure. But on the other similar issues in the OP links, they did not have those codes either. The converter could still be cleaning the exhaust even though it is restricted maybe.

Last edited by pvaultguy; 01-29-2017 at 05:48 PM.
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misfire, misfire cylinder 6, p0304, p0305, p0306

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