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Discussion Starter #1
I've my had my '87 535i for 10 years now, and have always passed my annual smog check. I live in Los Angeles. Except for this year! My NO level is too high. The max level should be around 875 or so, and mine was 1180 and 1100 respectively, for the test and re-test. Now I've wasted $80.00 on this failed test! Not happy. Before the re-test, I filled the tank 3/4 full with 91 octane, added 2/3 of a bottle of Lucas fuel injector cleaner, and drove it on the freeway at 65-80 mph on the freeway for a half hour. Still failed! Couldn't believe it. A new catalytic converter is expensive, and can't afford that right now. Is there an adjustment on the engine one can make to reduce the NO level? Is there another solution to this just so I can pass that damn test, without having to spend a fortune? There's no vacuum leak in the engine.
Thanks.
 

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A new catalytic converter is expensive, and can't afford that right now. Is there an adjustment on the engine one can make to reduce the NO level? Is there another solution to this just so I can pass that damn test, without having to spend a fortune? There's no vacuum leak in the engine.
Thanks.
I know of no adjustments like my '76 2002 with Weber carb. What is the status of your plugs? Valve cover gasket? O2 sensors? I read that the Cat is the last resort to replace. If so, have you considered a used part instead of new? I read increased engine compression is one of the leading faults responsible for high NOx. Not to mention, if oil is seeping into the combustion chamber during the smog check, air to fuel ratio would have been disrupted leading to increased emissions. The cost of CA living. Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
'87 535i Won't Pass Smog Test; NO Level Too High

I know of no adjustments like my '76 2002 with Weber carb. What is the status of your plugs? Valve cover gasket? O2 sensors? I read that the Cat is the last resort to replace. If so, have you considered a used part instead of new? I read increased engine compression is one of the leading faults responsible for high NOx. Not to mention, if oil is seeping into the combustion chamber during the smog check, air to fuel ratio would have been disrupted leading to increased emissions. The cost of CA living. Good luck.
Plugs are new the last couple years. Valve cover gasket is very secure. Don't know about O2 sensor, but my mechanic said that high NO is likely caused by bad Cat. Don't think you can buy used Cats? Salvage yards won't even let you pull one and purchase! Avg. price for new one $4-700. I'll have my mechanic check my vacuum pressure. Don't think any oil is leaking in to combustion chamber. I had a brand new valve job done in the past 5 years. I have to assume that's still good.
Besides the vacuum pressure, I've read that putting a can of Sea Foam in my tank and filling it with 91 octane and going for a good 2 hour freeway drive at 65-70 mph is a great way to clean the carbon out. I may do that. Sea Foam also make a 'Top Engine Cleaner and Lube', that cleans Intake Valve and Combustion Chamber deposits.
My other possible option, in combination with the above is to swap out MY Cat with the one on an '86 5-Series that's been sitting at my mechanics for the past 2 months. I'll ask them. Then swap it back after I pass my test.
That's all I got.
Thanks for the good tips. I hope we can figure this one out! I need my CA Registration!
Thanks for the response.
 

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My other possible option, in combination with the above is to swap out MY Cat with the one on an '86 5-Series that's been sitting at my mechanics for the past 2 months. I'll ask them. Then swap it back after I pass my test.
That's all I got.
Thanks for the good tips. I hope we can figure this one out! I need my CA Registration!
Thanks for the response.
You're welcome. Appears that you and your mechanic have a good strategy. The Cat swap is righteous. You'll get that CA registration. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Resolved!

You're welcome. Appears that you and your mechanic have a good strategy. The Cat swap is righteous. You'll get that CA registration. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Hey! Just want to let you know that months later, this NO level out of range and not passing smog check, was finally resolved. After trying every fix I could think of, or was suggested to me, I finally had to break down and buy a new catalytic converter. That was it! Got that installed, went for a 15 mile drive on the freeway, pulled in to my smog check place, and finally passed with flying colors!
Thanks again for your assistance.
 

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X3 Catalytic Converter

I finally had to break down and buy a new catalytic converter. That was it! Got that installed, went for a 15 mile drive on the freeway, pulled in to my smog check place, and finally passed with flying colors!
Thanks again for your assistance.
Great news. How much did the repair cost?
 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
Catalytic Converter Install

Great news. How much did the repair cost?
Labor for installing Cat was $125.00. Took some time. Would've been $150.00. I'm friends with the guys who run this shop and they are my go-to, highly trusted, mechanics. Been going there as long as I've had my '87 535i.
Cat cost me $220.00. Absolutely the cheapest price anywhere online or anywhere else. It's a place out of Nevada called Lift Kits 4 Less. They're great. They got it directly from MagnaFlow company, and it was Free Shipping. Arrived quick.
Since December 2018 I've been trying to figure out why I couldn't pass smog check. NO level was WAY out of range. Tried everything imaginable and endured 3 different failed smog checks, until this 4th one I passed. Only paid for 2 though, as you get one Free one for every one you pay full price for.
 
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