While watching the world driving zero-emission vehicles is still a far-fetched dream, we are still counting on catalytic converters to keep the environment as clean and toxin-free as possible. But what if a catalytic car converter fails to perform the one essential task it is supposed to perform?
Well, then we are left with two choices- either get the catalytic converter replaced with an OEM or an aftermarket type catalytic converter, or clean it to unclog it and restore its efficiency. Given the longevity that a catalytic converter offers, you may not need replacement. Cleaning the catalytic converter will solve all your problems.
Read further to know how to clean a catalytic converter.
Cleaning a catalytic converter
There are two ways of cleaning a catalytic converter — cleaning it without removing it and cleaning it by soaking it.
Cleaning a catalytic converter without removing it
Cleaning a catalytic converter with a cleaner is the simplest way to clean it.
- Wear Proper Gear
Wearing gloves while cleaning the catalytic converter will help you fight against the heat and protect your skin from being harmed. Use resilient disposable gloves that you can easily dispose of after use to avoid contamination. Protect your hands with gloves, and wear a mask to avoid inhaling fumes from your vehicle and the cleaners you’re using. Finally, wear old clothes that protect your arms and legs or use a mechanic’s suit for complete protection.
Select a compatible product
An important thing to keep in mind is selecting a cleaner that is compatible with the fuel your vehicle uses. On the market, you will find a cleaner either compatible with gasoline or with diesel. Using the wrong cleaner may damage the fuel system of your vehicle.
- Pour the cleaner into the tank
Pour the cleaner into the tank. Check the recommended amount on the label.
You may have to empty the tank before pouring the cleaner. However, it depends on the brand of cleaner you are using.
- Start the engine
Now, start the engine and drive your car to circulate the cleaner into the converter, and viola, your car will return to functioning normally without smoky exhaust, bad smell, poor acceleration, engine misfire, and low fuel efficiency.
Cleaning a catalytic converter by soaking it
If your catalytic cleaner is heavily clogged, you may not be able to clean it with a cleaner. If you can remove the catalytic converter, soaking it is the cleaning method of choice.
Here is how to clean the converter by soaking it-
- Let your car cool down
When you drive your car, the converter gets heated up. It may reach 700 degrees Fahrenheit depending on how fast and long you were driving. So, let your car cool down completely before beginning to clean the converter.
Also, make sure you are wearing your protective goggles and gloves.
- Lift your car and locate the unit
Once the car is cool, lift it with a jack and locate the catalytic converter. It sits in the middle of the exhaust pipes. It may be round or square.
A catalytic converter is either welded or bolted. If yours is a welded unit, reach out to a professional. If it is a bolted unit, you can use your DIY expertise to remove it.
- Remove the oxygen sensor and the catalytic converter
Using an oxygen sensor wrench, remove the oxygen sensors. Keep them somewhere safe.
Now, loosen the bolts and remove the converter unit. Inspect it carefully. If it looks melted or if you hear a rattling sound on shaking it, you may have to replace it. If it is not damaged, go ahead with the next step.
- Wash the unit
Take a pressure washer and flush the unit using low pressure. Hose down the outlet and inlet pipers to clean the deposits.
- Soak the unit
Take hot water in a container and mix degreaser into it. Soak the unit in this mixture for 30 to 60 minutes.
After an hour, rinse the unit with a pressure washer and dry it thoroughly. Let it dry overnight.
- Reassemble the converter
Once the converter unit is dry, reassemble it and the oxygen sensor.
The bottom line
Driving with an inefficient or bad catalytic converter is against the law. So, if the catalytic converter of your car is not working properly, either get it replaced or clean it using the above-stated methods.