How to clean a catalytic converter

How to clean a catalytic converter

A catalytic converter is a component of an automobile engine that reduces toxic carbon emissions. If your car has a functional catalytic converter, pollution and your carbon footprint are significantly reduced. Carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides, and other exhaust engine emissions are converted by catalytic converters into less dangerous substances, protecting both you and the environment. Your car’s check engine light will illuminate to alert you to a problem if the converter is clogged or unclean. You need to know when and how to clean a catalytic converter if you want to keep your car running efficiently and sustainably.

How to clean a catalytic converter

Well, in this article, we’ll be looking at how to clean a catalytic converter. We’ll also be looking at why you should clean your catalytic converter, how often you should clean your catalytic converter and the catalytic converter price.

Read more: Understanding catalytic converter

Ok, let’s dive in!


How to clean a catalytic converter

Well, you’ll be learning how to clean a catalytic converter in two methods. In the first method, you’ll be cleaning the catalytic converter without removing it. While in the second method, you’ll be removing the catalytic converter. So do whichever is necessary.

Read more: What you need to know about catalytic converter theft

Method 1

The first method is simple, inexpensive, and doesn’t need to remove the converter or get dirty. This process also cleans your fuel system, oxygen sensors, and exhaust system. Nevertheless, if the exhaust system is extremely filthy or you have a damaged catalyst honeycomb, this method won’t work. Tap the converter with a mallet or wrench to ensure that this cleaning technique will work for you. The strike is hard enough to cause some rattling, yet not forcefully enough to cause a dent or break. If the converter rattles internally, you may have broken parts or a build-up of silt that can only be removed and cleaned up. If you don’t hear any odd noises, then you can use this method.

Read more: Lists of Best Catalytic Converter Cleaners

Here’s how to clean the catalytic converter:

  • Get enough catalytic converter cleaner and fuel. Purchase some fuel in a can and a high-quality, appropriate catalytic converter cleaner for your car. While some cleaners only function with gasoline or diesel engines, others function with both.
  • Fill up your fuel tank with the cleaner. You will find all the directions you require for pouring the cleaner and how much fuel your car needs on the cleaner’s label.
  • Go for a drive. Start your car’s engine after adding the solution, then go for a drive. Driving will help the cleaner circulate throughout your exhaust system. How long to drive for the optimum effects is specified on the cleaner’s packaging.

To get the catalytic converter hot enough to burn away any clogs and residue, we advise driving with an RPM exceeding 3000. It’s a good idea to put an automatic transmission in “Sport” mode or anything similar. Simply hold it in each gear a little bit longer when using a stick shift before moving on to the next one. To prevent overheating, keep an eye on the temperature gauge in your car. You’ll notice less exhaust smoke, quicker acceleration, and fewer occurrences of engine misfires if the cleaning process is successful.

Read more: Catalytic converter theft prevention: Tips for car owners

Method 2

The catalytic converter needs to be removed and cleaned if the first procedure doesn’t produce the expected results due to the debris in your exhaust system. With the proper knowledge and tools, the procedure is simple, but like with other exhaust components exposed to the outdoors, loosening the nuts is typically the most challenging aspect of the job. Nevertheless, you’ll need a large container to soak the converter, jack stands, penetrating oil such as B’laster or WD-40, a floor jack, an automotive degreaser, a pressure washer, a wrench that matches the converter’s bolts (or better yet, an impact wrench), oxygen sensor wrench.

Here’s how to clean the catalytic converter:

  • Before you start, allow the exhaust system of the car to cool.
  • To make it easy to slide under, jack up the car as high as possible. To keep the car in place, use the jack stands.
  • Using the oxygen sensor wrench, remove the oxygen sensor(s).
  • Locate the converter, then apply penetrating oil to the bolts to loosen them. Allow a qualified mechanic to clean the catalytic converter if it is welded on or connected to the turbo.
  • Remove the converter after removing the bolts, then inspect it. If it shakes with a loud rattle, it has broken internal parts, and you need a new catalytic converter.
  • Clean the converter’s body and then use a low-pressure washer to pressure wash the interior if there is little to no rattling.
  • Fill a container with hot water and degreaser after pressure washing the inlet and outlet pipes.
  • Spend no more than an hour soaking the converter in hot water and degreaser solution.
  • After soaking, rinse the device with a low-pressure washer, then let it drain until it is completely dry.
  • Reinstall the system and the oxygen sensor after it has dried (s). Then go for a drive to see if it gets better.

Read more: How to prevent catalytic converter theft

Why should you clean your catalytic converter?

Here are a few reasons why you should clean your catalytic converter:

  • Improved Performance: Your car’s performance can be enhanced by a clean catalytic converter since it allows for greater exhaust flow and lowers engine backpressure. This may lead to increased horsepower, greater acceleration, and better fuel economy.
  • Reduced Emissions: A catalytic converter’s main function is to lessen harmful emissions from your car’s exhaust system. The converter’s capacity to perform this function successfully can be diminished over time if it becomes clogged with debris. Your car will be able to pass emissions tests again if the catalytic converter is cleaned, which will restore its ability to cut emissions.
  • Cost Savings: Your car may use more gasoline and run less efficiently if the catalytic converter is clogged or unclean. This may result in higher fuel expenses and possible harm to other engine components in your car. These problems can be avoided with regular catalytic converter cleaning, which will ultimately cost you less money.

It’s crucial to remember that cleaning your catalytic converter might not be sufficient to make it functional again if it has been damaged or failed. It could need to be replaced in such circumstances.

Read more: Catalytic converter replacement cost (part and labor prices)

How often should you clean your catalytic converter cleaner?

The frequency of catalytic converter cleaning is not predetermined because it greatly relies on the conditions under which you drive and how well your car is maintained. But unless there is a specific problem that has to be fixed, a well-kept and regularly serviced car shouldn’t require a catalytic converter cleaning. It can be necessary to clean or replace your catalytic converter if you observe a decline in your car’s performance or fuel efficiency, or if it fails an emissions test. It’s important to keep in mind that cleaning a severely clogged converter may not always be possible with a catalytic converter cleaner additive. It could need to be replaced in such circumstances. To decide what to do with your particular vehicle, it is important to speak with a certified mechanic.

Read more: List of best steering wheel locks

Catalytic converter price

Depending on the make and model of your car, the type of converter required, and other factors, the cost of a catalytic converter might vary significantly. A typical aftermarket catalytic converter can range in price from $100 to $1,000. However, the price may be considerably more for some premium or high-performance vehicles. There will also be additional labor expenses for the installation of a professional mechanic to replace the catalytic converter in your vehicle. The shop and location can also affect the cost of labor.

Read more: How to jump-start a car (what you need to know)

Catalytic converter cleaning FAQs

What is the best way to clean a catalytic converter?

Using water and lacquer thinner is the best method. But since there is no tried-and-true method for doing this, you might want to look online for a few chemical cleaners, like Oxicat or Cataclean, that assist eliminate carbon deposits gradually before attempting.

Read more: How to test a car battery with a multimeter

How do you unclog a catalytic converter without removing it?

You should pour a bottle of converter cleaner into a fuel tank that is just half full in order for a catalytic converter to unclog itself. Your catalytic converter will unclog itself if you drive about for around 30 minutes after draining the fluid.

Read more: How to disconnect a car battery in 5 straightforward and safe steps

How do I know if my catalytic converter is clogged?

Sluggish engine operation, decreased acceleration, the exhaust smelling like rotten eggs or sulfur, dark exhaust smoke, or intense heat coming from under the car are all signs of a blocked catalytic converter and should be fixed right once.

Read more: How to charge a car battery with a charger in 6 simple steps

What are three signs of a bad catalytic converter?

The following are the three most common signs of a bad catalytic converter:

  • poor engine performance.
  • decrease in acceleration.
  • dark exhaust smoke.

Can a car run with a clogged catalytic converter?

If the catalytic converter in your car is completely clogged, you shouldn’t drive. If you do, you should expect that the reduced exhaust flow will impair the performance of your engine, causing it to idle for a few minutes before dying.

Read more: How long do car batteries last? Signs that its time

What are the 3 most leading failures of a catalytic converter?

The three main causes of catalytic converter failure are overheated, melted, and damaged converters.

Read more: How to recondition a car battery

What does a blocked catalytic converter sound like?

A rattling noise

When you’re starting, idling, or driving, a blocked catalytic converter frequently makes a noise that seems like it’s coming from under your car and engine. The honeycomb materials may be broken apart by excessive heat or damage to the converter, producing a rattling sound.

Read more: Does car repair insurance worth having?

What causes the catalytic converter to clog?

The heavy carbon and soot that is produced when oil or antifreeze enters your exhaust system coats and eventually clogs the air holes in the ceramic honeycomb catalyst of the converter.

Read more: Different types of car insurance

That is all for this article, where we looked at how to clean a catalytic converter. We also looked at why you should clean your catalytic converter, how often you should clean your catalytic converter, and the catalytic converter price. I hope it was helpful. If so, kindly share it with others. Thanks for reading; see you around!