How To Clean A Catalytic Converter

Cleaning out my catalytic converter using the 2 simple and easy methods

A catalytic converter is a vital control device for exhaust emissions.

It reduces the toxic gases produced and all the pollutants found in the exhaust gas after they are burnt in the internal combustion chamber of the engine.

The converter reduces the toxic substances into non-toxic compounds by catalyzing a redox reaction. Therefore, for the device to work effectively, ensure that it is clean at all costs.

There are two ways that you can use to clean your converter. You can clean it while still attached to your vehicle or remove it and then carry out the cleaning after you remove it from your vehicle.

Method 1. Without Removing It:

  1. Make Sure You Have A Compatible Cleaner
  2. Make Sure Your Level Of Fuel In Your Tank Is On The Required Level
  3. Add The Selected Cleaner To The Tank
  4. Drive The Vehicle For A While To Ensure The Cleaner Is Well Circulated

Method 2. Cleaning While The Converter Is Removed:

  1. Allow Your Vehicle To Cool Down And Then Jerk It
  2. Identify Where The Catalytic Chamber Is Located
  3. Detach The Oxygen Sensor
  4. Detach The Catalytic Converter
  5. Wipe The Catalytic Converter Clean
  6. Using A Soaking Solution, Soak The Converter
  7. Thoroughly Rinse The Converter And Leave It To Dry
  8. Put Everything Back As It Is Supposed To Be And Go Out For A Test Drive

Therefore, you can always test the condition of your catalytic converter on your own without the need of an expert.

All that is needed is a series of steps, and you would be able to know how to clean catalytic converter.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

4 Things To Consider Before Cleaning Your Catalytic Converter

When you are cleaning your catalytic chamber, in most cases, the interior parts of this device tend to become loose, and this means that for you to clean your converter correctly, you must remove it and then replace it after you are done.

Below is a list of some things that you should consider before cleaning your chamber:

1. Check Whether Your Chamber Is Too Clogged

In this situation, if your catalytic chamber has too many compounds clogged in it, then be sure that your engine will not work efficiently.

You are therefore required to remove the catalytic converter and make sure you use appropriate tools to clean it, or if the damage is too significant, you might be required to replace the whole chamber.

2. Check Out How Oil Is Consumed

In cases where your catalytic chamber had a lot of clogs, it means that internal oil consumption may have gained access into the cylinders, and as a result, they get burnt up in the hot catalytic converter.

When this happens, you should take quick action to repair the internal oil leakage parts before using the converter because it may work for a short time, and after that, the converter will be clogged again.

You should check your crankcase ventilation first and broken seal valves for any oil leakage.

3. Ensure That All Loose Parts Are Fixed

This can be achieved using a hammer and carefully hitting your catalytic converter to assess if any loose parts are shaking inside this chamber.

If you hear any loose parts, then you are advised to remove the converter and inspect it thoroughly to avoid the parts from being looser, and this means more loose parts lead to an increased rate of clogging on your exhaust pipe which may lead to your car stopping in the midst of your journey.

4. Ensure The Catalyst Is Pure

You can clean your catalytic chamber in the inside and all its interior parts, which may have been blown out through the exhaust pipe.

If this happens, it will be difficult to notice it, and if you suspect that this happened, remove the converter and check it thoroughly.

When Should You Clean Your Catalytic Converter?

When it is time to clean your chamber, there are many ways in which you can know the chamber needs some maintenance.

Your vehicle is fitted with two oxygen sensors, the upstream fuel sensor, and the downstream sensor.

The downstream fuel sensor is an oxygen sensor that monitors the performance of the catalytic converter.

If the engine check light indicates the downstream oxygen sensor, it means that you should clean your sensor as soon as possible before the CAT starts failing.

If you are driving, you will drive for a short distance, and it will fail because clogging will steadily increase, leading to low engine power.

The upstream oxygen sensor senses both fuel and air, making it easy for your engine to effectively adjust fuel trim by reading all the exhaust fumes released from the cylinders to the exhaust manifold and regulating the amount of fuel-air mixture entering the combustion chamber in the cylinders.

If the air is too much, the ECU will add more gas, and the reverse is true.

What Can You Use To Clean Your Catalytic Converter?

Your vehicle filters the toxic substances like carbon monoxide from fuel exhaust, making the exhaust less harmful.

This procedure leads to clogging of the catalytic chamber, which means that you should clean your converter regularly.

Therefore, to get rid of the clog, you need to visit an auto spare shop to purchase the best cleaner.

What Are The Benefits Of Using A Catalytic Converter Cleaner?

The use of catalytic converter cleaners has been broad these days because many people find it easy to use these products.

As crucial as the catalytic converter is crucial in the vehicle, cleaners’ work should also be appreciated.

These products with their formulations are great in adding mileage on your converter, and here are some of the top benefits of using a cleaner:

1. Decreases Building Up Of Carbon

It doesn’t matter whether your engine operates using diesel or gasoline because the buildup of carbon is common in both cylinders and injectors of all vehicle types.

Due to this accumulation, clogging occurs, and as a result, your engine’s general performance may be affected.

Clears clean these compounds from all your cylinders and injectors, which helps to refine the fuel economy.

2. Improving Your Engine’s Performance

By the use of cleaners, the mode in which your engine burns fuel is improved. The cleaners are formulated with acetone and other solvents that ensure your fuel is completely burnt.

Complete combustion means increased engine performance because there are more oxygen molecules necessary for combustion.

Your general vehicle performance will be increased as a result of wholly burnt fuel.

3. Dropped Damaging Emissions

Assuming that your catalytic converter fails you when it comes to releasing tests, then cleaners are the best because they will make that problem become a past.

The cleaners ensure that emissions done are on the essential levels because while they were being produced, they were framed to be organic complexes.

This means that when they burn, its only aldehydes and carboxylic acids, as well as peroxy compounds, are released, meaning that your car only emits few toxic gases since carbon monoxide and nitrogen-based oxides are withheld.

What Are The Best Cleaners For Catalytic Converters?

Below is a list of the best three cleaners with their pros and cons you will need to make your converter clean and work efficiently.

1. Cataclean Engine And Catalytic Converter Cleaner

This is a product that best suits cleaning your catalytic convertor without forgetting how perfect it can also work on all your upward and downward oxygen sensors.

The cleaner has a relatively high cost; it has a good reputation in clearing most catalytic converter code errors from your ECU.

The product works effectively when you need to make emission tests because it quickly does the cleaning on your entire fuel system and the catalytic converter.

This cleaner is found in a 16 oz. Bottle.

Pros

  • It can be used a wide range of engines, be it gasoline, diesel, and hybrid engine vehicles
  • It effectively cleans both the engine and the catalytic converter
  • The product limits the buildup of future containment
  • It is widely available in multi-packs

Cons

  • It has a relatively high price
  • The cleaner does not work effectively when used in two-stroke engines
TOP PICK
Cataclean Engine And Catalytic Converter Cleaner
$23.97
Buy on Amazon Learn More
I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.
06/07/2021 04:01 am GMT

2. CRC “Guaranteed To Pass” Emissions System Formula

In case you want to pass your emissions test or instead, CRC will help you double your money back. This is a powerful cleaner that has additives that super clean the entire system of your vehicle.

This means that the rate of emissions produced will be reduced, therefore increasing the engine power.

The fuel economy is improved for every three thousand miles by use of this product and boosts acceleration.

With the help of the powerful detergents mixed in the cleaner, the product is reliable to the extent that it easily removes harmful carbon and varnish emitted by the fuel system and emission control parts in vehicles that use gas to power thus making it easy for use in gasoline-powered vehicles by reducing CO, Nitrogen Oxide and HC making it useful for tailpipe analysis for exhausts and testing done by the On-Board Diagnostics emissions.

Pros

  • It is a reliable product when used
  • It saves you money that you would rather spend on repairs
  • It works efficiently on gasoline engines
  • When it comes to usage, it is easy to use
  • With this product, the chances of having your plates are high

Cons

  • To some extent, if you are using if for the first time, it may be challenging to use
  • It is heavy
  • It takes a while before it starts working
  • It may not work at all if wrongfully used
I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.

3. Solder-It CAT-1

The catalytic converter cleaner and deodorizer is found in a 16 oz. Bottle helps eliminate the nasty smell produced by your exhaust fumes.

It may help you pass the emissions control test and is widely used by all catalytic converters monolithic and those with pelletized types.

This product extends the time between tune-ups and helps in cleaning the two sets of oxygen sensors.

Pros

  • It will save you a good value of money
  • It helps you in getting rid of the rotten egg exhaust smells from your car

Cons

  • The product is too simple
  • Their use is limited to gasoline engines only
  • The product may help you pass emission tests
I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.
06/07/2021 09:35 am GMT

2 Ways To Clean A Catalytic Converter {Let’s Learn Each Method Deeply!}

Methods1. Cleaning Without Removing The Catalytic Converter

Most people who own vehicles prefer this method because, in this method, the position in which the catalytic chamber is located is maintained.

The method is believed to be quick, affordable, and less cumbersome, and it does not require any mechanical skills to do it.

For this process to be successful, your catalytic converter cleaner should be available and ensure enough fuel in the tank.

These are the steps that will guide you through:

1. Make Sure You Choose The Appropriate Cleaner

This is recommended as the first step because if you choose the inappropriate cleaner, your desires may not be achieved.

You should also keep in mind that different cleaners have different benefits, and this means that different cleaners will suit your vehicle differently.

You should always take your time and select the cleaner that best suits your vehicle.

Some cleaners are also designed to fit different engines, and therefore the engine type also determines the type of cleaner to use.

2. Ensure The Tank Has The Correct Amount Of Fuel

The ratio of catalytic converter cleaner to that of the fuel level should be right to ensure the product will effectively do its function.

If your fuel level is as required, all you have to do is make sure you have a perfect mix that requires 15 liters of fuel, but it is better to read instructions outlined about the mixing ratio before you use the product.

3. Pour Cleaner To The Fuel Tank

Depending on what cleaner you are using and the fuel level in your tank, you can use a whole bottle or half of it.

You should always follow the instructions on the cleaner bottle because when the mixture is correct, your engine will operate effectively while a wrong cleaner will cause engine problems.

4. Put The Engine Into Working To Circulate The Cleaner

Because you have already poured the cleaner into your fuel tank, drive around to ensure that the cleaner circulates to function correctly.

The instructions on the bottle should guide you on how long you should drive for the cleaner to complete it entirely.

You can quickly notice it has worked by the engine improvement and smoky exhaust.

5. Refill Your Fuel Tank If It’s Going Empty

Allow your car to consume the fuel till it’s nearly empty so that maximum cleaner effectiveness is reached.

After reaching the low level of fuel, you can now refill your tank and perform a test drive to make sure the engine runs smoothly, and if no changes are noticed, repeat the above steps once.

The above procedure is only ideal after you have carefully listened to your catalytic converter and ascertained that there are no loose parts inside it.

You should also ensure the converter is not too clogged, or else the method will fail.

Method 2. Cleaning By Removal Of The Catalytic Converter

This method is preferred for use when the cleaner used has not worked or when you feel like the results of using the cleaner did not satisfy you.

You will be required to remove the converter then soak it, but the method is recommended for you if you have a few necessary skills on mechanics because the method can be a little complicated.

You will need protective gear like gloves, a pressure washer, wrenches, a large tub, a jack and stand, a vehicle degreaser, and penetrating oil.

After all, these are in place, then follow the steps below carefully.

1. Jack The Vehicle After It Has Cooled Down

You are required to let your vehicle cool down because most components around the converter tend to be hot.

The catalytic chamber can be up to 750 degrees Fahrenheit; thus, you should let these components cool down after your vehicle cools down, jack it, and be ready for other supplies.

2. Locate The Converter

After your car is stable in the jacks, identify the catalytic converter, and before you do this, ensure that you have put on protective gloves and goggles to ensure your safety.

In most vehicles, you will find the converter between the middle and end of the exhaust pipe, and it is cylindrical or square.

3. Detach The Oxygen Sensors

Using the oxygen sensor wrench, remove the oxygen sensor carefully to make sure there is no damage.

Depending on your vehicle’s model, there may be two sensors, and the main point is ensuring you handle them safely.

4. Remove The Converter

After you have removed the sensor, remove the catalytic sensor, and make sure it is not damaged as you loosen the bolts, hold the chamber with the other hand.

In many cases, use penetrating oil to loosen the bolts since they are tightly held.

5. Wipe The Catalytic Converter

After you have removed the chamber, carefully inspect to ensure it is not damaged and if it is in good condition, wipe it clean using a shop towel to ensure the surface is residue-free.

You should also pressure wash it using low pressure taking your time on the inlet and outlet pipes to remove any deposits.

6. Soak The Converter

With the prepared soaking solution, fill a tub with hot water and add a degreaser, and once the solution is ready, place the converter in it for at most an hour, ensuring that it is not overdone or underdone.

7. Rinse It And Let It Dry

After you have soaked, remove the converter from the tub and rinse it thoroughly using a pressure washer while maintaining the pressure low.

Make sure there are no deposits on the outlet and inlet pipes when cleaning the unit, and for it to completely dry, leave it for a few hours, but the longer, the better.

8. Put Everything Back And Go For A Test Drive

After your unit gets dry, reinstall everything by first securing the converter by using bolts and reattaching the oxygen sensors, and after this is done, go for a test drive, and if the cleanup was a success, the difference should be felt on how the car drives.

Related Questions

How Often Should I Clean My Catalytic Converter?

If you use an appropriate cleaner effectively, it becomes cost-effective rather than buying a new converter.

It is useful if you clean your unit at least 3 times a year if your vehicle is heavily used or once a year if you barely use the vehicle.

Does Premium Gas Clean Your Catalytic Converter?

You may operate with your car for a long time, thinking that the premium gas cleans your converter; instead, your vehicle will misfire because of the carbon deposits on your engine, leading to clogging on the sensors and the unit.

Your engine will operate better if it’s tuned up by the use of high octane fuel.

Does Seafood Clean Your Catalytic Converter?

This product can do an excellent cleaning job, but to some extent, the product cleans the carbon from your engine and passes it to the converter, which may lead to the cost of replacing some engine metals.

You should replace the unit rather than rebuilding your engine.

Does Lacquer Thinner Clean Your Catalytic Converter?

The product is mostly made of acetone compounds, which are a powerful solvent, and when it is applied, it can damage most of your fuel system components.

Does Soap And Water Clean Your Catalytic Converter?

Because most of the exhausts are from carbon compounds, you can soak your cat to the soap and water solution, and no lead will be removed because these are compounds that require more chemicals to break down.

Conclusion

Maintaining your catalytic converter clean is one of the most crucial things to do to ensure your vehicle emissions are low.

The two discussed ways are the most effective; the first method is simple and should be the one you first try before proceeding to the second method, which is a bit technical.

If the methods do not work for you or result in turning on the check engine light, then take your vehicle to a certified mechanic.

Sources:

1. CarTreatments.com – https://cartreatments.com/best-catalytic-converter-cleaner/
2. Mechanic Base – https://mechanicbase.com/engine/clean-catalytic-converter-without-removing-it/

Written by Yusuke Kohara

Hi there! My name is Yusuke. I write about automotive topics for Car Proper. I love cars and have a passion for writing helpful articles on tools, car accessories, and how-to to help my readers solve their problems. In my spare time, I'm either working out, reading the book, or spending time with my family. I also work for a digital consulting agency.

Knowing how to deal with having an issue with Nissan key fob that's not working

Why Isn’t Nissan Key Fob Not Working After Battery Changed?

Getting rid of paint on my vehicle with the cleaner and a few tips

How To Get Paint Off A Car