Your car requires regular maintenance and cleaning parts of your exhaust and is something you should do when possible.
The catalytic converter is a part of your exhaust system that processes all the exhaust before it leaves your car. Catalytic converters can get clogged, and that's not something you want.
If you don't attend the clogged catalytic converter, then the problems will eventually lead to engine failure. So you better not sleep on a faulty catalytic converter. However, you don't need to replace your catalytic converter every time.
Often you can fix the converter and get on with your day. Clogged catalytic converter fixes are easy to do, and with just a few simple steps, you will be able to do it.
So how to fix a catalytic converter without replacing it? Well, that's what we will talk about here.
We will address all the basics about catalytic converters like how they work, the signs of problems, and the fixes available. With that being said, let's get into talking about how you can fix your catalytic converter!
How Does Catalytic Converters Work?
The entire world is putting to clean up the environment, and that goes for car manufacturers too. Almost all the models now have catalytic converters in their exhaust system to control the rate of emissions.
In an ideal situation, fuel and air combine in your car's combustion chambers; the result is water vapor, carbon dioxide, and kinetic energy.
However, the situation is never idyllic within the chamber, resulting in less than perfect combustion, which means harmful emissions. A catalytic converter's job is to reduce harmful emissions coming from the combustion happening within your engine.
It does that by oxidizing the emissions using precious metals and turns these harmful by-products into variants of safer compounds like H2O, CO2, nitrogen (N2).
Catalytic converters are usually made with expensive metals like platinum, palladium, and rhodium, so replacing one can be an extreme endeavor, with each costing 1000 dollars and upwards.
Now that you know how it works, let's talk about the signs that tell you that you have a problem with your car's catalytic converter.
6 Signs Of Problems With Your Catalytic Converter
There are several ways to tell if you have a problem with your catalytic converter, and here are the six most common problems you should know about:
- If you see that you have a had time to start your engine or if you are having a hard time accelerating, then that could mean you have a clogged catalytic converter. A clogged converter restricts the flow of exhaust from the engine, which means your engine is suffocating and can't function fully. So when you see your engine having trouble starting or accelerating, that could mean a clogged catalytic converter.
- When you smell a rotten egg smell coming from your exhaust, it means hydrogen sulfide is building up in your engine, which could mean contamination. You may also notice an Ammonia smell coming from your exhaust. All this means that your catalytic converter might be compromised. So be sure to check it out.
- If you see a discolored or warped catalytic converter housing, then that can mean there's an internal leak, or there's overheating, and neither is suitable for your engine.
- When you hear a rattling noise every time you start your car, that's when you should be worried. The rattling noise can mean that you have a broken catalytic converter, and it can cause severe damage to your engine if you are not careful.
- Each car takes emission tests. Now, if your car fails the semi-annual or annual emission test, then the catalytic converter isn't doing its job, and that means you need to check your catalytic converter.
- When you see warning lights on the dashboard, then it could mean you have some converter trouble. If you see the check engine light or malfunction indicator lamp with a catalytic converter diagnostic trouble code, then that means there's trouble with the converter. Check your engine control module and see if it shows the code DTC P0420. If you see that code, it means the converter has a "Catalyst System Efficiency Below Threshold."
Different Ways To Fix A Clogged Catalytic Converter
Now that you know the problems' signs let's talk about how to fix a clogged catalytic converter without replacing it. Here are some ways you can fix a clogged catalytic converter.
The "Italian Tune-Up"
So this is the most popular of all the clogged catalytic converter fixes. It's a common fix that works for plenty of different problems.
For your catalytic converter to perform efficiently, it needs to be heated to a specific temperature. Now, most drivers don't push their cars hard enough for the converter to get to that temperature.
The converters can fail to do their job when not running at the right temperature. Just by pushing your car a bit harder, you can burn off all the excess performance-robbing deposits in the intake, cylinder head, exhaust, oxygen sensors, and catalytic converter.
Fuels and Fuel Additives
Another way people often fix a clogged catalytic converter is by changing fuel or using fuel additives. These are usually very effective in cleaning out catalytic converter deposits.
If you usually use low-octane fuel, then try using high-octane fuel for a few days. Your catalytic converter should be unclogged after a few days.
Another option for unclogging your catalytic converter is by adding one gallon of lacquer thinner to ten gallons of gas.
Doing these two things should help you fix a clogged catalytic converter. Use these methods along with the "Italian Tune-Up" method for the best results.
Engine Running Right
Your car will often show that you have a catalytic converter problem even though you might not have it. Other engine problems can be misdiagnosed as a catalytic converter problem.
So make sure you check and fix lingering engine problems. One of the commonly misdiagnosed problems is an oxygen sensor might falsely indicate a catalytic converter problem instead of setting a DTC for itself.
Other problems like fuel trim running too rich or too lean, oil or coolant burning, or engine misfire problems can lead to premature converter failure or blockage.
So always make sure you check all the lingering problems and have them fixed. Taking care of these engine problems will ensure that your catalytic converter doesn't meltdown.
Taking Care Of Your Exhaust Problems
Exhaust leaks are prevalent, and these leaks can mess up the oxygen level readings. So just fixing this simple thing will restore your catalytic converter's performance.
Some other common problems that might hamper your car's performance are worn out exhaust gaskets and corroded flex pipes. So be sure to check them out as well or talk to a mechanic.
They will be able to help you out. Trust us, fixing these problems is a way cheaper option than replacing an entire catalytic converter.
Regularly Cleaning Your Catalytic Converter
Regularly cleaning your catalytic converter will ensure you have never clogged converters. It's a potential way to fix a clogged catalytic converter.
Use a pressure washer to blast out any contaminants from the matrix. Make sure you flush out both ends to clean the converter properly.
You can also clean the converter by soaking it in a solution that's a combination of hot water and degreaser or laundry detergent. Keep it soaked overnight, and the contaminants clogging up the converter will be gone. Once done, you can dry your converter and re-install it.
Fixing Is Easy
There you go, that's all the basics you need to know about catalytic converters and how to fix catalytic converters without replacing them.
Go through the article as much as you need when working on your car. Now the solutions listed here are simple fixes anyone can do at home, but you should consult an expert if you are not comfortable.
Some problems might even suggest worse problems, so talk to your mechanic. And with that being said, that brings us to the end here. Feel free to let us know your thoughts in the comments below or hit us up on our socials.
So that's it for now. We will come back soon with something new about the automotive industry. Until then, see ya!