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Old May 5th, 2012, 10:10 PM   #1 (permalink)
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How To: Gut Catalytic Converters in 4G69 stock exhaust manifold (header)

Okay guys, I took the time today to gut my stock cats in my exhaust manifold.

A quick description of why. Basically (as you will see in a few) a catalytic converter helps filter your exhaust gasses to prevent having high emissions. This does however restrict air flow tremendously. So by removing all the material inside of the cat, you are reducing back pressure by freeing up airflow and providing more hp.

If anyone want to know how effective this is, ask Akley. He use to have the RRE headers and sold them, then gutted his stock headers. He says that he can NOT feel a difference between the two. As for my self, I have felt a significant difference in low end, and also from about 70-100.

Now lets get started.

1. First remove the positive terminal from your battery.
2. After that, remove the intake manifold cover (there is a reason for this. )

3. Now, we need to remove the drivers side o2 sensor. You will need a special tool that looks like this: (pic of it sitting on top of an o2 sensor. ) You can get this from any auto parts dealer.


This is simple, first unplug the o2 sensors. The plugs are on each side of the valve cover, should be a black one (rear o2), and a grey one (top o2) on each side.



Now use your fingers or a set of pliers to bend the little clips on the heat shield that hold the o2 sensor wires.


Use the tool to get the sensor broken loose, Be very cautious of the sensor wires, because they will twist also. After a couple turns, you should be able to do it by hand. This takes patience. After a few turns the o2 sensor should pull right out.


4. Okay now, don't worry about the other o2 sensor right at the moment. It's too tight and the tool you have (at least the one I had) will not fit. What you need to do is remove the bolts that hold the heat shield on. There are four of them



The 4th one is right in the middle, across from the radiator.

5. Now that you have that off, pull it back as far as you can. You should be able to see where the exhaust manifold bolts to the head. Locate all 6 14mm nuts that hold the exhaust on, and break them loose. If they are seized up, just be easy with them, and patient. Last thing you want it to break off a stud and be without a drivable car :/





6. Before you go any further up here, we need to drop underneath the car. I jacked up the drivers side nice and high so I could fit under, and secured it with a jackstand. You need to look at where the header bolts onto the exhaust. There should be two nuts and one bolt. The nuts are 16mm I believe and the bolt is 14mm. I may be wrong. Break these loose and take them all off.



7. Once unbolted just pull the exhaust pipe down off the two studs (there should be a gasket that will fall down also), and down a bit more to get it as far out of the way as possible. Now, I don't have a picture, but directly across from the 14mm bolt we took off should be another bolt, this one a bit bigger, holding the header to a mount. Take this bolt out. This allows us to move the header around and get it out.

8. Now jump back up, and remove the six 14mm nuts we broke off earlier. Behind each nut should be a washer, so make sure to grab them as you take the nuts off. There should also be a little heat shield connected to three of the bottom bolts that will come off.

9. Once those bolts are off you may or may not have to break the headers away from the head, due to oxidation. I did, because I have 120k miles and they were rusted on. I just use a rubber mallet, and a paint can opener. Just be very careful not to chisel away at the gaskets.

10. Once they are loose, pull the header off, and lift it up and sit it on top of the valve cover. I removed my manifold cover because I painted it and didn't want to scratch it up. Now grab the exhaust shield and slide it down the wire of the passenger o2 sensor to get it out of the way. Should look like this.


11. Now remove the other o2 sensor. Should be pretty easy to get to now. Once again be very careful with the wires. After it is off, sit it to the side, and take the manifold completely out of the car.


Now lets take a look inside of the manifold to see how restrictive our airflow is. Look from the bottom, directly into the cats.


See the white? That is the material in between, and wait til you see what it is!!
Another cool thing is flip the header back to right side up, and try blowing into each tube. When I did this the air bounced right back and hit me in the face.

12. Now you need a cro bar and a rubber mallet hammer. Take the header (bring a trash can) out to the yard or somewhere with a soft surface. Flip them upside down, and either have a friend hold them, or do like I and hold it up with your foot or knee. Put the crow bar inside the cat, and beat the hell out of it with your mallet. bust through all that material, scrape it out, turn it over and shake it out, pull it out with you hands. This material consists of a cotton like substance, and a ceramic or almost fiberglass like solid material. NO WONDER OUR AIRFLOW IS SO RESTRICTIVE!!
Once you are done (use a flashlight to view inside) try blowing through each tube again, should be a straight shot. If not, you've got some material in a tube and need to shake it out.
It looks like this:



And the end result!!


You can ACTUALLY see light!!.

13. Now put everything back together exactly how you took it apart, make sure all the bolts are TIGHT, so no air leaks, and take her for a drive!!


You will notice an increase in power and sound without a doubt, and i would say even gas mileage.

There you go guys, if any questions, please feel free to ask! Thanks!

Last edited by iBlackSunday; December 15th, 2019 at 01:50 AM. Reason: Edited image links
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Old May 5th, 2012, 10:24 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Bravo, J. You should make some videos tomorrow.. Sound, 0-60, 60-100, Etc. Awesome write up, man.
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Old May 5th, 2012, 10:27 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I would +erep you if I could. Nice writeup.
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Old May 5th, 2012, 10:30 PM   #4 (permalink)
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excellent write up.i had no idea there was fiberglass in there too.WTF ?? +rep indeed.
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Old May 5th, 2012, 10:31 PM   #5 (permalink)
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IMO you should have scraped the cats for good money and bought headers but nice write up good work here
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Old May 6th, 2012, 08:23 AM   #6 (permalink)
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after u done this, did ur car throw any code?
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Old May 6th, 2012, 08:32 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Just some clarification on this wonderful write up jhun!
1.) You do not need the special dealer tool. Just a adjustible crescent wrench.
2.) You will throw codes without o2 spacers. They have these at auto parts stores. Just tell them your spacing o2's.
3.) This gutted stock manifold is not as aerodynamic, nor the tubing is as big as headers.
Nice detailed writeup man. This is gonna help a lot of noobies!
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Old May 6th, 2012, 09:28 AM   #8 (permalink)
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If you do this just make sure you get the housings cleaned out real good. Any material left in them will blow into the third cat and contribute to clogging it.
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Old May 6th, 2012, 10:41 AM   #9 (permalink)
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car was dynoed with a rre header and then the gutted mani.same hp gain.
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Old May 6th, 2012, 10:53 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
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IMO you should have scraped the cats for good money and bought headers but nice write up good work here
you dont get much for precats. i recycled my first exhaust manifold
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Old May 6th, 2012, 10:59 AM   #11 (permalink)
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the flow issue only becomes a problem at higher nitrous shots.
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Old May 6th, 2012, 11:36 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Quote:
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If you do this just make sure you get the housings cleaned out real good. Any material left in them will blow into the third cat and contribute to clogging it.
and get sucked back in the engine.so yes,very important to get it all out.
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Old May 6th, 2012, 12:22 PM   #13 (permalink)
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So, I just did this. Took about 2 hours including setup and cleanup. What sucks, is that the front bolt on the collector flange sheared right off with almost no effort . I only have 10k miles. I hate Ohio. Can't wait to try it out!
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Old May 6th, 2012, 03:05 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Thanks guys! By no means would this be AS good as RRE headers, but from what akley said it was really close. I'm very satisfied with the mod and car is running/idleing great!

Thanks for the tips green! I'll make sure to update here soon!
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Old May 6th, 2012, 03:07 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Quote:
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Bravo, J. You should make some videos tomorrow.. Sound, 0-60, 60-100, Etc. Awesome write up, man.
I made one sound video already just haven't had time to upload it yet!

but thanks bro. I'll try to get some vids in the near future.
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Old May 6th, 2012, 03:45 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Faster throttle response, deeper, louder exhaust tone. Loss of some low end torque, but gains up top.
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Old May 6th, 2012, 04:19 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Quote:
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Faster throttle response, deeper, louder exhaust tone. Loss of some low end torque, but gains up top.
what does your custom exhaust consist of ?
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Old May 6th, 2012, 04:27 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Just a couple of turbo mufflers.
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Old May 6th, 2012, 08:14 PM   #19 (permalink)
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does your car have any code after this mode?
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Old May 6th, 2012, 08:36 PM   #20 (permalink)
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it did throw a code but i haven't gotten my rear o2 spacers on yet. they aren't here atm. once I put them on and reset all should be good to go!
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Old May 6th, 2012, 08:46 PM   #21 (permalink)
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if u dont want to buy headers this is of course the next best thing for no cost.

ceramic and fiberglass is in both converters and resonators. difference is ur exhaust needs to run through all that shit when entering a converter. a resonator uses it strictly as a sound dampener / toner and exhaust does not flow through.
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Old May 6th, 2012, 09:21 PM   #22 (permalink)
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After getting up to operating temp and resetting the ecu, two words:



Holy shit!

No codes and gain across the rpm range. No bs. This was more noticeable than the underdrive pulley.
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Old May 6th, 2012, 09:29 PM   #23 (permalink)
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^ lol of course. u get some serious overlap with the stock headers causing less area for combustion. gutting them atleast maintains constant increased exhaust velocity
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Old May 6th, 2012, 09:39 PM   #24 (permalink)
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^^what spacers did you need after this mod?
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Old May 6th, 2012, 09:43 PM   #25 (permalink)
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spacers for the O2 sensors such as this ->
EuropaParts.com: 034 Motorsport Oxygen Sensor Spacer

u can also find non-foulers at any auto parts store
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Old May 7th, 2012, 06:16 AM   #26 (permalink)
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joeyb sent me some spacers. not sure which ones tho. I noticed big gains last night and i haven't even reset my ecu yet haha. awhile back some of you guys may remember me talking about getting tore to shit by a 2005 cavalier with a catback exhaust and Sri. well i raced him last night and we were almost dead even and I had about 40-50 lbs of tools and junk in the back of my car.
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Old May 7th, 2012, 01:17 PM   #27 (permalink)
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Old May 7th, 2012, 01:22 PM   #28 (permalink)
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added another one to the group!! Nice!! Make sure those things are completely cleaned out before reinstalling. Try blowing into each pipe to make sure it is free flowing.
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Old May 7th, 2012, 01:37 PM   #29 (permalink)
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i feel like i started a trend
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Old May 7th, 2012, 01:37 PM   #30 (permalink)
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Its easy as hell, just have to be patient and take your time with the nuts and bolts and heat always helps lol
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Old May 7th, 2012, 01:39 PM   #31 (permalink)
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mine will be done tomorrow night.cant wait !
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Old May 7th, 2012, 01:39 PM   #32 (permalink)
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i feel like i started a trend
haha, well I'm glad you did. I had asked about doing this awhile back but never got any positive replies. soon as I seen you did it and it was successful I was like "I've gotta jump on this shit" lmfao.
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Old May 7th, 2012, 01:39 PM   #33 (permalink)
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Its all your fault
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Old May 7th, 2012, 01:40 PM   #34 (permalink)
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i feel like i started a trend
the info you provided was greatly appreciated.
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Old May 7th, 2012, 01:40 PM   #35 (permalink)
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Its easy as hell, just have to be patient and take your time with the nuts and bolts and heat always helps lol
Yes I agree, extremely easy, patience is key.
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Old May 7th, 2012, 01:41 PM   #36 (permalink)
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it gave me a chance to play with my wrecking bar
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Old May 7th, 2012, 01:42 PM   #37 (permalink)
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Agreed on that one hahaha
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Old May 7th, 2012, 01:45 PM   #38 (permalink)
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That's alot of crap that came out of those bitches..who would've thought, stupid design
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Old May 7th, 2012, 01:47 PM   #39 (permalink)
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that shit is dangerous for the engine no doubt
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Old May 7th, 2012, 01:50 PM   #40 (permalink)
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That's alot of crap that came out of those bitches..who would've thought, stupid design
you aren't joking. And I can't wait to upgrade my exhaust and ditch the 3rd cat too.
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