Your opinion on missing CAT issue ('79 308) | FerrariChat

Your opinion on missing CAT issue ('79 308)

Discussion in 'Technical Q&A' started by Wayne 962, Feb 22, 2004.

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  1. Wayne 962

    Wayne 962 Formula Junior
    Rossa Subscribed

    Nov 27, 2003
    Hi all. I have a quick question for you. I have had a big exhaust leak in my 1979 308 GTS, so I decided to drop the exhaust and replace all of the "donuts" (one was completely disintegrated, and the other five were not looking too good).

    Well, I was quite surprised to drop the first CAT, and find that it's not a real CAT, but a hollowed out one made to look like a CAT. This had me miffed, as I just bought the car recently, and there was paperwork showing new CATs, and no mention of this.

    So, I go about dropping out the 2nd CAT, and to my surprise, it's a real CAT. I'm 99% sure these cars had dual CATs, right? If so, what would be rationale in swapping out only one CAT?

    The next question is, what to do about it? In CA here (and I think it's Federal Law too), it's illegal to tamper with smog equipment, and I believe it's illegal to sell a car for road use that has had it's emissions equipment tampered with. Do I go back to the seller and get $$$ to pay for a replacement CAT (assuming I'm going to need it to pass smog in the future). The car passed smog (I didn't take it in) fine in it's current condition.

    On a related note, I found this site:

    that has them listed for $290.95.

    What would you do in this situation? I bought the car in November. Go back to the seller and ask that he pay for a new catalytic converter?

    Please let me know what you think...

  2. Steve Magnusson

    Steve Magnusson Two Time F1 World Champ
    Lifetime Rossa

    Jan 11, 2001
    30°30'40" N 97°35'41" W (Texas)
    Full Name:
    Steve Magnusson
    Wayne -- (Sorry to hear about your problem, but) If you're going to hassle with trying to get some $ back from the seller, I'd at least use the price from FerrariUK for a new cat to determine the $ amount under discussion (if you're not going to go for the absurd F dealer price) rather than a discount aftermarket converter price.

    Just for reference, the stock '78-'79 308 cats and exhaust system are shown below -- good luck (I'd probably just let it go, and put it in the "experience" pile ;))
  3. thecarreaper

    thecarreaper F1 World Champ
    Silver Subscribed

    Sep 30, 2003
    you bought a 25 year old car. deal with it. if " as is " was anywhere in the sales agreement good luck with any recourse. i dont condone mis representation so i understand your frustration. i love your car by the way. seems like it would be exempt?????? by now. i havent lived in or been to cali. in a long time. best wishes on a nice car though!!!!
  4. yelcab

    yelcab F1 World Champ

    Nov 29, 2001
    San Carlos, CA
    Full Name:
    Mitchell Le
    The responsibility of the seller is to give you a smog certificate, which he did. In order to have a chance of getting him for the $, you would have to PROVE that he personally knew of the removal of the cat, and misrepresented it that way.

    Who knows, he may have been a victim of his previous owner, or a mechanic, or a bad shop. There are certainly plenty of those around. Why assume it is the PO?
  5. nautique

    nautique Rookie

    Nov 1, 2003
    Los angelas, CA
    Full Name:
    Craig Tempelton

    I would go to a local smog shop and get a pre-test done to make sure your car will pass. When I bought my '79 I got a smog certificate from the seller in Santa Cruz County. The test is just an Idle test. Two years later when I went to get my car tested in LA County, the car was not close to passing. Here they use the dyno test. It cost me 4 new cam shafts and a lot of new parts to get it to pass. Every 2 years I spend several weekends getting the car is shape to pass the smog test. In California it is 30 yrs before it is exempt and you can still be sighted for no cats after 30 yrs if they spot the problem

  6. Dr.T348

    Dr.T348 Formula 3

    Jan 8, 2004
    Chicago NW Burbs
    Full Name:
    Richard T.
    Wayne, I don't know where you live. I had a bad rotor and burned at least one of my cats on my '83 308. After it would not pass emissions, so I took both cats off and put bypass pipe ( readily available ) on instead, I live in Illinios and can get a show car exemption from smog testing. You may want to check with your state agency.

    Oh, there is a $50,000 fine in Illinios if a dealer or mechanic removes the cats.
  7. Wayne 962

    Wayne 962 Formula Junior
    Rossa Subscribed

    Nov 27, 2003
    Thanks for the input guys. Just FYI, some of you mentioned that it would be tough to recover $$$ from the guy. I believe (and I'll have to check) that selling a car with modified/altered emissions equipment in CA is considered fraud (like rolling back your odometer), and thus is an illegal sale. But I'm not sure. Smog equipment is *not* the same as other problems under the law.

    I just looked up the smog tests on the smog test site, and found that the car was tested twice, once the day before with an aborted test, and then again a day later, when it passed with flying colors?

    I have a smog machine in my garage, I'll have to take a closer look at the thing when I reattach the exhaust.

  8. GearHead

    GearHead Karting

    Jan 3, 2004
    Go back to the seller? I don't think so.

    As above, 25 year old car, you got your smog certificate. Count yourself lucky if that is the only problem you end up finding. That's why these are $27,000 used cars.

    I don't think there was anything illegal about him selling you the car. He's just a private seller selling you a 25 year old used car. His obligation was to give you a smog certificate, which he did. I don't think under Cal. law he is a guarantor of anything on the car, smog system or otherwise.

    What if you turned around and sold the car to someone else in December? Would you be a guarantor of the smog system?

    Did you get a PPI done on it? If they ran it on their gas analyzer, they probably would have picked up something wrong with the emissions system (who knows how the seller got the smog certificate, the car may be way out of compliance, but there are still ways to get certs.)
  9. Wayne 962

    Wayne 962 Formula Junior
    Rossa Subscribed

    Nov 27, 2003
    If the smog certificate was obtained illegally, then this would be obvious fraud, as the documents would be fraudulent, and so would be the sale of the car. I'm on the BAR site looking it up right now - I do remember looking at this before.

  10. GrigioGuy

    GrigioGuy Splenda Daddy
    Lifetime Rossa Owner

    Nov 26, 2001
    E ' ' '/ F
    Full Name:
    Trailer Swift
    You're trying to call a fradulant sale for a $300 part? As everyone else has pointed out, it's a quarter-century old used car with who knows how many previous owners and mechanics messing with it. Just bite the bullet and fix the thing.
  11. Wayne 962

    Wayne 962 Formula Junior
    Rossa Subscribed

    Nov 27, 2003
    That is just one part I found. If the smog certificate was obtained illegally, then there may be other problems with the car.

    You guys outside of CA don't seem to understand- the laws are very strict here about this stuff. If the smog certificate was obtained illegally, and I find out the car is actually a gross pollutor when I have to smog it again in a year and a half, then it sucks to be me. I can see how you can think one thing if you're not in CA, but here, getting your car to pass is a big ordeal. If the smog certificate was "bought on the black market" and then that is fraud, right? I would not have bought the car if it couldn't pass smog without any "help."

    A replacement CAT from Ferrari UK is $1200 for comparison.

    I am listening to everyone's opinions here - thanks for the input...

  12. f355spider

    f355spider F1 World Champ
    Owner Rossa Subscribed

    May 29, 2001
    Too bad, I sold the two working, excellent condition cats from my ex 78 308 GTS for about $400 on Ebay last summer.... :(
  13. thecarreaper

    thecarreaper F1 World Champ
    Silver Subscribed

    Sep 30, 2003
    30 years to be exempt!!!! sheesh! i had no idea Wayne, keep us posted on the outcome, i wonder if the shop that certified the car would have records of the tests, or if there are emissions records from the PPI you had done. strange that only 1 cat was replaced and the other was hollowed out! seems to me the back pressure difference between the 2 banks would make it run " funny" . good luck.
  14. Wayne 962

    Wayne 962 Formula Junior
    Rossa Subscribed

    Nov 27, 2003
    Normally, I would agree with you, but the 308 Exhaust system is not terribly well designed to begin with (when you compare it to the early Porsche 911 exhausts). The header pipes & collectors do not appear to be equal lengths, which will create mismatches in the system anyways...

  15. Birdman

    Birdman F1 Veteran

    Jun 20, 2003
    North shore, MA
    Full Name:
    THE Birdman
    Hi Wayne,
    If I had bought this car from a dealer, I sure as hell would be back there making him pay for the new cat. If the dealer said there were two working cats in there, it's their problem if they didn't verify it before telling you. If you're dealing with a private seller, you might have to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he didn't know one was missing. I mean, how many people take the exhaust off the car if there's nothing wrong with it (I mean except for you dudes that need it louder of course! ;-)

    The thing I would be worried about is that it might've been tweaked to pass smog and that it doesn't really pass as properly tuned to drive. That just means that every time you get it smogged, you will have to lean out the mixtures and diddle with it to make it pass. What a pain. If it's private seller I would probably just buy the aftermarket cat, put it in, and then rip both of them out in 2009!!

  16. GearHead

    GearHead Karting

    Jan 3, 2004
    Did you have a PPI done on the car?
  17. Dave

    Dave F1 Rookie

    Apr 15, 2001
    Little Rock
    Full Name:
    David Jones
    I would contact the former owner and ask him or her about the situation.
    The paperwork shows new cats...
    so someone along the line has misrepresented this.

    As far as a PPI, I have performed a number of these,
    but opening up the exhaust to check to see if someone has hollowed out a cat is not on my list of things to check.
    I inspect that area when I do the visual, and again when checking for exhaust leaks, as well as check for indicator lights during the test drive.
  18. BigTex

    BigTex Seven Time F1 World Champ
    Owner Rossa Subscribed

    Dec 6, 2002
    Houston, Texas
    Full Name:
    Twenty five years to be exempt in Texas.

    Send it over, Wayne and we'll take care of it a few years for ya.....

    That's the most valuable part of my whole car, the DOT "cat exempt" sticker!

    This guy wanted to paint over it, I said "What a' ya, NUTS!!!!!??"

    As stated above, you're gonna have to get legal.
  19. cavallo_nero

    cavallo_nero Formula 3

    Nov 3, 2003
    Full Name:
    Giovanni Pasquale
    At any rate, make the car symmetrical, either have both cats operational or get rid of them both. i would not drive the car too far with a functional cat on one bank, and an open cat on the other...
    THEN, do a comparison emissions check on both banks to home in on the problem as to why the 2nd try on the e-test...
  20. JonnyT

    JonnyT Karting

    Jan 21, 2004
    Northern California
    Full Name:
    This is an interesting dilemma since I had almost the exact same problem a year or so ago when I bought my '78. It came with a receipt that showed the purchase of 'new' cats approximately 1200 miles ago on the odometer. As part of the spectacular price I got on the car I agreed to take care of getting it smogged here in Cali. When I took it in, it failed miserably and come to find out, both 'new' cats had been burned through. When I took it to my long-time F-Car mech he reminded me that this is a common problem with 308's. He picked up a couple of aftermarket cats for me and after about $700.00 total we had my smog cert in hand. I have since pulled the cats off for safe keeping and will put them back on and re-tune in a year or so. In all of mine and my father's years of owning F-Cars in Cali, I have never heard of anyone being 'inspected' outside of when you actually get your car tested, thus I'm not really worried about it.

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