How to Clean Catalytic Converter with 2 Methods

Naomi O'Colman

How to Clean Catalytic Converter

How to Clean Catalytic Converter

The catalytic converter is an important part of any new gas or diesel-powered car. Catalytic converters remove harmful gases from the air that comes from the engine’s combustion. Because all the exhaust goes through the catalytic converter, they get dirty after a long time of use. Replacement of a catalytic converter is costly, so cleaning it first is usually the best way to do it. Here, I’ll show you how to clean catalytic converter with 2 methods.

A catalytic converter that needs regular maintenance can be cleaned with simple methods that don’t require taking it out of the car. A deep clean is sometimes needed, and that means taking the device apart.

How to Decide if Your Catalytic Converter Needs a Cleaning

Here are three things to check before you start to clean the catalytic converter.

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Check to see if it’s too clogged

There could be too much carbon buildup in the catalytic converter, which could make the engine stop. To look inside the inner catalytic converter, you first have to take it apart.

Check the inside of your body for damage

Most of the time, if your problem is with your catalytic converter, you’ll find that the parts inside are loose or broken. One way to check it quickly is to lightly hit the catalytic converter with a screwdriver and pay attention to any rattling sounds. They need to be replaced because they have been damaged.

Check to see if you’re using too much oil

Another common cause of a damaged catalyst is a lot of oil being used. Most of the time, this is caused by bad piston rings, valve guides in the cylinder head, or fuel injectors. if you see smoke coming out of the exhaust pipe, this is most likely the reason for it. Trying to clean the catalytic converter will not solve the problem.

2 Methods on How to Clean Catalytic Converter

Method 1: Cleaning catalytic converter without removing it

This method won’t work if your exhaust system is too dirty or your honeycomb is broken.

Use a mallet to hit the converter to see if it will clean itself. Hit it hard enough to make it shake, but not so hard that you break or dent it. There may be broken parts or a lot of sediment in the converter if you hear rattling inside. You can only fix this by taking the converter out and cleaning it. As long as you don’t hear any weird noises, go on with the below steps:

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1. Get some fuel and enough catalytic converter cleaner

A can of fuel and a decent quality catalytic converter cleaner that works with your car are both things you should buy. They work with either diesel or gasoline engines, but there are some cleaners that can work with both types of engines.

2. You can put the cleaner in your fuel tank

The cleaner’s label will give you all the information you need about how much to use and how much fuel you should have in your car.

3. Drive around

Following that, start the engine and drive. Driving will move the cleaner around so that it can clean the exhaust system. The label on the cleaner will say how long to drive for optimal outcomes.

You can find out more about how to fix a catalytic converter without removing it by reading this article.

Method 2: Remove catalytic converter to clean

If the first method doesn’t work, then you’ll need to take the catalytic converter out of your exhaust system to clean it.

When you have the right information and tools, the process is easy if you know what you’re doing. The hardest part is usually getting the bolts out.

Please follow these steps:

  1. Detach the catalytic converter from the car with the right tools.
  2. Then fill a big bucket with dish hot water and soap.
  3. Take out the catalytic converter and put it in a bucket of water. Let it soak for a few hours.
  4. Check the honeycomb inside the converter to see if it looks clean.
  5. If so, put the exhaust system back together by replacing the catalytic converter.
  6. If not, change the soap and water and let it soak for a few more hours.
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If the check engine light is still on and the code for a worn-out catalytic converter is still coming up, it may be time to buy a new one.

The things not to do

To keep your catalytic converter safe when you clean it, don’t do the following:

  • Soak the part in grout-eating gel, bleach, or other chemicals that can harm the catalyst.
  • Make sure your gas tank is full of paint lacquer or thinner.
  • Using a catalytic converter that doesn’t work with your car
  • Try to cut off a welded catalytic converter on your own, but don’t do it. You could damage the car or hurt yourself.

Does Cleaning Always Work?

If you clean the catalytic converter with the 2 methods above and don’t see any improvement, you need to get a new one. Getting a new one costs money, but it keeps your car legal and efficient.

Furthermore, cleaning may not always work if you have an internal leak of oil or coolant, so you might not be able to fix it. This means that smoke and soot will keep getting into the system from these places. Damaged piston rings, break in valve seals, or blocked crankcase ventilation are all signs of leakage.

Final Words

A broken catalytic converter is a pricey auto part to fix. The first thing you should do if your car has a problem is trying to clean it up. The good news is that there are a plethora of ways to clean a catalytic converter, so hopefully one of them will save you money and time at the mechanic.