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General E46 Forum
This is the place to get answers, opinions and everything you need related to your E46 (sedan, coupe, convertible and wagon) BMW!

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Old 01-12-2012, 06:55 PM   #1
milestone707
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Catalytic Converter

Hey guys just wanna get your thoughts on a potential purchase...

I have a bad bank 2 catalytic converter on my 2002 330ci and am looking to buy a used unit that has 120K miles on it....

I looked up the carfax report on the vehicle that the cat came from and saw that it is a 2001 325ci...according to the records it has never failed smog inspection...sadly for the last owner it was involved in an accident a week or so after it passed smog for the last time...

It also has a 14 day warranty...

How long do catalytic converters typically last us e46er's???
Assuming one maintains their vehicle well shouldn't it last over 220k???
For those who are still sporting the original cats how many miles do you have on the clock???


milestone707

Last edited by milestone707; 01-12-2012 at 06:57 PM.
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Old 01-12-2012, 07:05 PM   #2
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120k miles is rather high, and I'd be inclined to believe that unit is nearing the end of it's life.

Considering the amount of DIY effort/money to pay mechanic that is required to swap an exhaust manifold, I'd get something with less mileage on it.

Search the classifieds here or create a WTB ad.
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Old 01-12-2012, 07:19 PM   #3
milestone707
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Fair enough...

by the way...dude wants $125...is this a decent price???I wont be paying for any labor.

Brand new costs round $900 out the door!!! Man I might just take my chances and pull the trigger! Really wanna get rid of the SES light once and for all...
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Old 01-12-2012, 07:43 PM   #4
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Shoot, my old 323i had 254k miles with no issues with the cats. My niece has one too with 260k and it is doing just fine, and a friend of mine has a 328i with 297k miles and no issues. I'd say a cat with 120k is just fine. Plenty of life left. They don't fail often. And you aren't going to find one used with a lot less miles. Go for it and be happy.

I've got a buddy who just did headers and he would probably sell you his for less. He has an 01 330ci so it will bolt right up.
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Old 01-12-2012, 07:50 PM   #5
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Old 01-12-2012, 07:57 PM   #6
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at 116k mines started showing cat efficiency codes.
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Old 01-12-2012, 08:01 PM   #7
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120k is also relative to how the unit was used. If the engine to which it was bolted always ran rich or consumed oil, for example, you can be sure its life was significantly shortened.

If all you're trying to do is eliminate the SES light, and you're not swapping for the sake of passing inspection, you also have the cheap and relatively easy option of flashing your DME to the EU2 tune.
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Old 01-12-2012, 08:09 PM   #8
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Ac_2007 is leaving some great knowledge here. My first e46 had 160k ish on the stock cats and no problems. But then again, it ran like new and was never driven with any sort of rich/lean code or with a bad CCV for that reason in particular (to save the cats). OP, my suggestion is to find ones with as little miles as possible and keep an eye on the forum. Lots of guys doing headers and trashing their headers. I've seen a guy saying free if you pay shipping or they were going to the dump!
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Old 01-13-2012, 06:34 PM   #9
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Hey guys thanks for the advice! I went ahead and bought both cats for 200 plus 50 shipping...its coming with a 14 day warranty so i'll be bolting these on as soon as they arrive...


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Old 01-13-2012, 06:53 PM   #10
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My car is a '94 with 145,000 miles and the original CAT. My kid's car is an '00 323 with 187,000 miles and the original CAT.

A CAT should be pretty much a life part, it ought to last the life of the vehicle. I don't think you need a CAT as much as you need new sensors that monitor the CAT's activity. The sensors are far more likely to fail than the CAT is.

If you are buying a car, then the seller is responsible for making it pass smog in California. If the seller refuses, then run do not walk to the nearest exit, or cut thousands from the asking price. You are buying a can of worms if the check engine light is on. California law REQUIRES THE SELLER sell a car that has already passed smog. This rule protects the buyer, and if the seller refuses to take the responsibility, then this is worth thousands off of the price to cover the exposure to the problems that you are buying.

A properly running car should never need a CAT, and even if a properly running car does need a CAT at some point, the car you are talking about is far to young to need a CAT for any routine purpose. The car must have been fed leaded gas or has been running rich for a very long time to kill the CAT. The only place to get leaded gas in this hemisphere is Mexico. They do not sell the gas that would kill a CAT in the USA, except that _maybe_ they sell leaded gas at the airport. Maybe. And I doubt it.
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Old 01-13-2012, 06:55 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by milestone707 View Post
Hey guys thanks for the advice! I went ahead and bought both cats for 200 plus 50 shipping...its coming with a 14 day warranty so i'll be bolting these on as soon as they arrive...


milestone
You are not gonna fix this car the way you are going.
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Old 01-14-2012, 08:28 AM   #12
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which way am i going?
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Old 01-14-2012, 08:41 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by jdstrickland View Post
My car is a '94 with 145,000 miles and the original CAT. My kid's car is an '00 323 with 187,000 miles and the original CAT.

A CAT should be pretty much a life part, it ought to last the life of the vehicle. I don't think you need a CAT as much as you need new sensors that monitor the CAT's activity. The sensors are far more likely to fail than the CAT is.

If you are buying a car, then the seller is responsible for making it pass smog in California. If the seller refuses, then run do not walk to the nearest exit, or cut thousands from the asking price. You are buying a can of worms if the check engine light is on. California law REQUIRES THE SELLER sell a car that has already passed smog. This rule protects the buyer, and if the seller refuses to take the responsibility, then this is worth thousands off of the price to cover the exposure to the problems that you are buying.

A properly running car should never need a CAT, and even if a properly running car does need a CAT at some point, the car you are talking about is far to young to need a CAT for any routine purpose. The car must have been fed leaded gas or has been running rich for a very long time to kill the CAT. The only place to get leaded gas in this hemisphere is Mexico. They do not sell the gas that would kill a CAT in the USA, except that _maybe_ they sell leaded gas at the airport. Maybe. And I doubt it.
word x1000

the only time your cat will fail is if you are running rich, lean, or hit it (bottom out).
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Old 01-14-2012, 09:02 AM   #14
milestone707
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maybe I should have given a bit of background.....previous owner ran the car rich for quite a while due to a faulty MAF....fixed this by purchasing an OEM unit....car is currently throwing a P0430 catalyst efficiency code for bank 2....replaced all 4 o2 sensors....still throwing P0430....no exhaust leaks whatsoever....I HAVE A BAD CAT!!!
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Old 01-14-2012, 09:06 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by milestone707 View Post
maybe I should have given a bit of background.....previous owner ran the car rich for quite a while due to a faulty MAF....fixed this by purchasing an OEM unit....car is currently throwing a P0430 catalyst efficiency code for bank 2....replaced all 4 o2 sensors....still throwing P0430....no exhaust leaks whatsoever....I HAVE A BAD CAT!!!
My car's cats are... uh... "free flowing" (read: performance headers).



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Old 01-14-2012, 09:06 AM   #16
milestone707
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I also have the latest software update at the moment as well....so please tell me how am I going about this the wrong way???
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Old 01-14-2012, 08:50 PM   #17
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i go 270k on my car, cats are OK. I do make it a point to run the car wfo in a few spots I know, long up hills where you can get into it and hold it for a few minutes......
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Old 02-06-2012, 01:56 PM   #18
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120k is also relative to how the unit was used. If the engine to which it was bolted always ran rich or consumed oil, for example, you can be sure its life was significantly shortened.

If all you're trying to do is eliminate the SES light, and you're not swapping for the sake of passing inspection, you also have the cheap and relatively easy option of flashing your DME to the EU2 tune.
Yes this is what I was trying to do and could not get my DME to flash.

Broke down and took it to the dealership to see if there was a problem with my DME itself.

They said nope..... but you need 2 new cats! $3139.00!!!

Can't pass state inspection right now.
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