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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My 2010 Element had its catalytic converter stolen in the dealer's lot while the car was there for other repairs. The converter was replaced, and I picked the car up yesterday. While I was driving home (the first 20 miles or so was on the interstate; total trip is about 45 minutes/ 30+ miles), there was a strong smell, somewhat like exhaust, but I think "sharper". The engine or exhaust also sounded a bit more noisy than usual, I think, though not as loud as it was without the converter. Is that normal? It was a very cold day (14°F dropping to 8°F).
 

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My 2010 Element had its catalytic converter stolen in the dealer's lot while the car was there for other repairs. The converter was replaced, and I picked the car up yesterday. While I was driving home (the first 20 miles or so was on the interstate; total trip is about 45 minutes/ 30+ miles), there was a strong smell, somewhat like exhaust, but I think "sharper". The engine or exhaust also sounded a bit more noisy than usual, I think, though not as loud as it was without the converter. Is that normal? It was a very cold day (14°F dropping to 8°F).
The smell should dissipate after you have broken in the cat, this smell is normal for new steel piping. At least, that's how it was when I first installed my downpipe/ all steel Injen exhaust. Some people have complained about aftermarket resonators.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
It may also be because some new parts were put in the heating system and they're getting their first extended heating up; I'm not sure. The smell's more obvious when the heater's on, although it could be pulling in the smell of the new pipes and converter, and was both lessening and more "plastic-y" when I drove today for 6 or 7 miles.
It seems odd that I wouldn't have gotten the "new steel parts smell" when I first got the car almost 12 years ago.
The catalytic converter and other new parts aren't OEM, so I'm wondering if that's why the exhaust system is noisier. The (long-suffering) service guy is checking into both issues, especially because they're probably exhaust-related in some way, so we'll see. He's the one who mentioned the OEM/aftermarket parts differences idea.
Thanks for the input; when it's resolved, I'll try to post the outcome.
 

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Listening from under the car will tell if the donut gasket in the exhaust manifold is sealing. Those bolts get rusty, mechanics don't want to snap them off so maybe it wasn't tightened enough. The smell is most likely a protective oil on the new pipes to keep them from rusting while sitting in inventory.
 

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If it makes you feel better mine is the same after the same work being done. I have only drove mine 4 miles. I figured I needed to go farther before I complain. Worse case scenario for me is the insurance company needs to put all oem parts on it now.


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I think I would be less concerned about the smell than the noise, unless the smell persists. As others have said, the cat itself may be burning off some stuff, grease from the mechanic's hands or labels still affixed to the new exhaust are burning off. They may have also used hi-temp rtv to seal it, and then smells until it cures.

But it shouldn't be louder than what you had. Usually when installing the exhaust you have to install it with the fasteners a little loose until you get the whole thing fitted. It may be as simple as they forgot to tighten one portion.
 

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2010 EX AT Polished Metal Metallic, 2003 EX AT Galapagos Green Metallic
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Just my nickel's worth - If your Element was in for repairs, the "dealer" was 100% responsible for it's security/safe-keeping in every US state I can think of, while it was in their possession. Any damage done to it there, requires they return it to it's original state, unless you signed a waiver stating otherwise.
That would mean an OEM cat, not a "replacement". Elements are "Low Emission" vehicles and are CARB compliant from the factory.
I would insist on an OEM cat, and all other needed parts for that repair to be OEM also.
 
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