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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
2004 Element with 230k miles. My guess is that the entire exhaust system was hanging on by a thread then my CAT was stolen and my new MacGyvered DIY repair has thrown the whole system out of whack (that is what me, non-auto mechanic, figures is happening)

I now have the tell-tale sounds of a worn out donut gasket at the exhaust manifold (plus a leaking exhaust manifold gasket but that's another thread, another repair needed)

I've read every thread I can find here and elsewhere: some describe a nightmare of rusted bolts snapping, others say something like "just get under there, take out the two bolts, stick in a new gasket, done"

Some use a penetrating oil to help, others say penetrating oil does nothing, others say hitting the rusted bolts with MAP gas is the only way--yet another tool I don't own

Only a few have mentioned that the replacement might could possibly entail two new nuts on the manifold side, which I guess are welded on (??) but that's also an area of concern if they snap off somehow

Maybe I won't have to remove any shields before tackling the rusted bolts at the flange, so that's a potential PITA with its multiple rusted bolts avoided, maybe

Reason I'm having to do this is that I now have the dreaded P0137 code and one reason for that is listed as "exhaust leaks upstream from the O2 sensor". I didn't have that exhaust leak sound just after I finished my DIY CAT replacement and my CEL wasn't coming on. Now I have that leak sound and the CEL is on

I have the parts #s for the donut gasket/springs and bolts (which I got from an older thread here but the parts #s are still the same and probably ordering them is going to be the easiest part. I need to do something, I have emissions test coming up in November. I was skating merrily along with no CEL till last week, now it's Panic Time

Any suggestions on how I can make this go as easily as possible would be appreciated. I don't have a lift or a floor jack, I've been driving my E up on a series of blocks to get it up off the ground about 5"

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the replies. I found a pic of an Element exhaust manifold and I added some arrows for my questions:

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Blue arrows indicate where the exhaust pipe flange attaches with bolts and springs. Not really shown are nuts already attached to the backside of the manifold flange...right?

Green arrows indicate where the manifold attaches to some mounting bracket for the manifold but that doesn't concern what I'm going to be dealing with...right?

Magenta arrows, that's a tough one. I can see the donut gasket sliding over and laying flat against the area beyond. The double pipe has me worried. Does the inner pipe slide into something in the exhaust pipe or is it a butt joint ? Does the outer pipe slide into the exhaust pipe or is a butt joint as well?

And, are the Honda OEM bolts long enough to start threading into the nuts before compressing the springs? A very tight area to work in if there's some compression needed just to get the bolt to thread.

And, am i spraying penetrating fluid onto the heads of the bolts as well as any threads sticking through the nuts? I have to say I've never used penetrating fluid in this situation.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
The msting part of the converter pipe is flared to contact the donut. Springs stent that hard to compress if need be. Penetrating oil more important on threads than heads.
OK, the exhaust pipe is flared at the end. But I don't have to connect anything together (meaning the inner pipe) before the flared end has contacted the donut? It's a de facto butt joint but not connected? It just slips over? At no point of my DIY experience has it been that easy! You said "Springs stent that hard to compress if need be." Can you say that another way :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
One thing I've never heard addressed is the flamability of any penetrating fluid. I read on this thread about spraying the bolts multiple times over days and days. Is that on an E that isn't being driven? How long after any application should I wait to drive it?

I'm going to get my E up on my DIY block system just to see if I can actually access the area in question. Again, I don't have a lift or a floor jack or even jack stands. Wish me luck
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Your Honda tech is right. Alternate bolts and alternate loosen/tighten directions. Impact guns usually do more damage than good. They’re great when things aren’t bound up by rust and seized with granular interleaving between bolt and hole.

Access to the exhaust manifold spring bolts isn’t bad unless you break it and have to take the whole thing off, then you have to remove more parts and risk spinning off the bolts holding it to the block (eek!). That’s why when my bolts rusted solid and spun off, I opted to not remove the manifold to fix it and instead drilled out the bolt from below. It was not pretty. But I had a lift and without that it would have been miserable, maybe impossible.
Don’t spray penetrating fluid on a hot manifold, obviously. But once it’s cooled off, it won’t be a problem. It will evaporate and smoke off quickly in a few minutes.
Yeah, the scenario I'd like to avoid seeing as I'll be lying on my back looking up. I've got my E up around 5" and I'm going to slide under there when the sun comes up just to check access. Like can I actually reach it and can I get a can of penetrating fluid up there to spray the nuts which are on top of the flange. I avoided all of this when I first did my DIY CAT replacement, not anticipating that once I got done with that THEN I'd be forced to disconnect that area anyway to replace the donut gasket. It's always something, right?
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I'm in the Denver area, so dry climate. I inched my way under the front of my E (first time I've had it high enough I could do that) and took some pics

Bottom line is, access to the heads of the bolts at the springs is doable in theory. Access to the nuts is nearly impossible. I tried every which angle with my tiny camera (which required threading my hand through any number of obstacles) to get these terrible shots of the nuts on the manifold side of the flange. I can't even see them from down below or even looking down into the engine bay unless I took off the exhaust manifold shield which in itself is probably three stripped rusty bolts to get off

So even the spaying of penetrating fluid on the nuts would be very problematic

And today is the day I'm replacing a leaking toilet flange wax ring so, truly, the fun never stops

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
"Spray and pray" is what you're saying

I just got done putting in a new toilet wax ring, or should I say two stacked because it was leaking before with only one for who knows how long till it came through the ceiling below.
 

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Discussion Starter · #22 ·
Not cynical, just trying to find the best way to move forward on this, seeing as I have no idea what I'm doing. "Spray and pray" is a photographers expression, ya know, put your camera on burst mode and take a million shots of something, praying one will be what you'll keep

Everything I've done on this entire DIY CAT replacement is something I've never done before. Hey, ask me about building a house, I've done that
 

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Discussion Starter · #23 ·
I've got the Honda # for the upstream donut gasket (18229-S6M-003) but the pic on the Honda diagram of that gasket is just a generic rendition. I'd like to pick up the donut and bolts etc locally to speed up the process and not pay for shipping and, incredibly, the pic of what I'm supposedly looking for varies from store to store, like they randomly swap pics of the downstream donut gasket with the upstream one that I need

I'm going to start spraying today

Does anyone have a pic of the one I'm looking for and could put it up here?

And a guy I talked with on some other forum did his CAT replacement and sent me his parts list that he got from Rock Auto. Thanks for that, man, but the bolt/spring/nut kit he got shows "Doesn't fit your 2004 Element" on all the store's websites. He didn't say the bolts he got didn't work so that's a bit confusing

Again, on the Honda website there is no real pic of the bolt that works (or it's dimensions either). I can see how the initial part of the bolt is thicker to fit better inside the spring and the end of the bolt is threaded. Which makes me think that the length of the fat part dictates how far the spring will compress so necessarily has to be the correct length. Again, there are no numbers for me to compare the OEM Honda bolt with any aftermarket like Dolan or Walker

Anyone have a pic of the OEM Honda bolt and it's dimensions? Thanks
 
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