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How to Unclog a Catalytic Converter – What You Need To Know!

How to Unclog a Catalytic Converter – What You Need To Know!

We Americans love our cars and we rarely go anywhere without taking our 2 ton, gas-guzzling friend along with us. A catalytic converter helps to lessen the impact of automobiles on the environment. A catalytic converter controls the exhaust emission from an internal combustion engine by catalyzing a redox reaction. In 1975 the EPA made catalytic converters a requirement in vehicles that are manufactured in the United States.

Auto Repairs Are EXPENSIVE


Catalytic converters are an essential part of your car’s infrastructure. Without them, your car would never be able to pass its emissions test and you would leave a much bigger carbon footprint. You will find the converter in the exhaust system between the engine and the muffler.

How do you know when you have a bad catalytic converter?

Having a clogged catalytic converter will lessen your gas the mileage and reduce the engines overall performance.  If you do not repair or replace a nonworking catalytic converter, it can destroy your engine. 

In most cases, you will have to replace a catalytic converter when something goes wrong with it. However, you may be able to salvage the component. It is actually fairly simple to clean it on your own. 

How To know if your Converter is Clogged 

There are a few telltale signs that you have a bad or clogged converter in your car. None of these signs should ever be ignored. 

If the fuel mixture is too heavy, the engine might misfire.  If your engine misfires too often,  it can cause melting metals in the converter which can clog it. If your car misfires often, there is a good chance something is wrong with your catalytic converter. 

Looking for Problems

If your car rattles when it starts or if it takes its time to start, you may have a bad converter. If you smell a rotten egg or ammonia, you may have a bad converter. 

Converters can become overheated due to large amounts of unburned gas. This may be caused when a spark plug misfires. 

Checking for Trouble with a Scanner

If you own an OBD scanner,  you can plug it in under your car's steering wheel. Your owner’s manual should have various codes for things that can go wrong in your car. To test your car, turn on the engine, but do not press the gas pedal. The scanner will show a code that will tell you where the problem is. 

If there is black smoke coming out of the engine or if there is excessive heat coming from the car, the converter may be broken. If the unit itself is broken, you will have to replace it. 

You will be able to clean your catalytic converter, so long as it is not overly clogged. If it is so clogged the engine won’t run at all, then you will probably have to replace it. You may be able to find a mechanic who specializes in your make and model of car who can unclog such a converter. 

There is a good chance that your converter is simply cracked or broken. It may have been damaged by rocks and debris from the street or you may damage it driving over a curve. If a converter is broken or cracked, it will need to be replaced and not repaired.

Sometimes there is damage to the catalytic converter that is caused by other issues within the car. If there is a fuel leak in the vehicle’s engine, fuel may get into the cylinders and get burned inside the catalytic converter.

Unclogging The Catalytic Converter

You can find a can of catalytic converter cleaner in any automotive supply store or in the automotive section of your local grocery store. You can also go online where you will be able to find the perfect brand for the make and model of your car.


  1. Drive your car until there are about 15 liters of gas in it. Do not attempt to clean your converter with less than this amount of gas in the tank.
  2. Pour the cleaner into the gas tank. The instructions on the bottle should tell you how much cleaner to use.
  3. Replace your gas cap and drive your vehicle for half an hour and try to go to a highway if necessary. You should drive until the tank is close to empty. The engine should not overheat.
  4. Clear the OBD code and let it calibrate. Then do a reading of the converter again.

If your converter is not terribly clogged, this method should work. If the code is still showing that there is something wrong with your converter, there is another way to unclog the converter.

Removing the Catalytic Converter

If you have some mechanic skills and if your converter is clogged beyond the point of being unclogged with cleaner from the store, you can try taking the converter out and cleaning it. 

You will need some basic tools in order to successfully clean the cat con this way. You should get a degreaser, a high-pressure washer, and a cleaning towel. You will also need a jack and stands, a wrench and safety gloves and goggles. 

Take Safety Precautions

Park the car on a flat surface and work in the daytime. Don your safety glasses and goggles before you begin. You should also make sure the vehicle has cooled down completely before you begin.  

Remove The Catalytic Converter

The converter will be found in the middle of the exhaust system. It will be either square or round and it will be secured with bolts. Take the bolts off with your wrench. If they won’t come off, you can use a bit of oil. There are some converters that are welded rather than bolted. If this is the case, you will have to take your car to a mechanic.

Inspect the Converter

Shake the converter gently and listen for anything broken inside. If there is something broken inside, or if the converter looks as though it has melted, you will want to get it replaced.

Cleaning the Cat-Con

Clean the outside of the converter with a towel. Wash the component with your power washer. Then use a pressure washer to get contaminants or debris out of the component. Clean both the outlet and inlet pipes completely, but do not turn the power washer on too high.

Combine hot water and degreaser inside a large container. let the cat-con soak for 45 minutes to two hours. Take it out of the container, rinse it off, and let it dry.      

Put the Converter Back Into the Car

Once the converter is completely dry you can put it back into the car remembering to securely fasten it when you do. Once again, you should go for a drive to test the component. After driving on the highway and nearly using all the gas, re-test the converter and make sure it falls into the proper ranges. If it does not, you will have to replace the converter.

Remember that a converter is crucial to your car’s performance an getting it checked out should be a top priority if you think anything is wrong with it.

Replacing a catalytic converter is not cheap, You will end up paying between $945 and $2475 for parts and labor. You will have several options for getting the car fixed.


You can go to an auto body shop to have your cat-con replaced. Autobody shops are generally much less expensive than dealerships. You can find a mechanic on the AAA website. Be sure to ask the mechanic who will work on your car if he or she is certified in your type of vehicle. 


You can go to the dealership for repairs. Although they may charge you more, the mechanics at the dealership will have special training in your make and model of car. They are also much more likely to have the correct parts on hand. You will not have to wait as long to get back on the road


If you have an older car, it may not be worth getting it fixed. If you get a new car you will have several ways to make a little money on the old one. Each of them has its benefits and drawbacks.


Sell Your Car Online

When you type, “sell my car online” into a search engine lots of websites will come up. These websites will charge you a monthly price to advertise your car online. You will have plenty of competition if you sell your car online. You may have to have your ad up for several months before you even get one phone call. 


Once you do get a bite, you will have to show them the car. You may have to do this a few times before actually selling the old clunker. Some people who are searching for junk cars are mechanics and they may only be interested in a part or two and not the whole thing


Selling your car online can be dangerous. Criminals have found victims online using electronic billboards for years.


File an Insurance Claim

If your converter was destroyed in an accident, you may be able to get the insurance company to pay for repairs or a new car. There are two kinds of insurance rules in the united states; fault and no-fault. In a fault state, the person who caused the accident is responsible for paying its related bills. In a no-fault state, a person’s own insurance company pays for their bills no matter who caused the crash.


When you have an accident, you will file a claim. If the damages to your car exceed a good portion of the amount of money that car is worth, it will be considered totaled. If the car is totaled, your insurance company is supposed to pay you what it was worth right before the collision.


There are no regulations for determining how much any car is worth. It is up to the insurance company to decide the car’s worth. The insurance company wants to keep its money in-house and they are unlikely to give you a good price. 

You can either take the settlement, or you can hire an attorney to negotiate on your behalf. A lawyer will keep a large percentage of that money. 


Trade-In Your Car

If you are going to buy a new car, the salesperson at the dealership will be able to give you a trade-in allowance for your old vehicle. Normally, they will offer you less than the car is worth. 


In some cases, a dealership may give you a good trade-in allowance. If they do this, you should read your final offer very carefully. They may try to put the money that they gave you right back on to the final price of your new vehicle.


When you go into the dealership, do not tell them that you have a car to trade-in. Get the salesperson to give you a final price in writing and then tell them about the trade-in.

Sell Your Car to Us

Selling your car to us is super easy. Just fill out our online form and wait for us to call you with an offer.


Our form asks for your contact information. It also asks for the year, make, model, and VIN number of your car. 


Once we get your information, we will call you back and make you an offer. If you accept the offer, we will come to get your car. Our team members will arrive right on time, perform a brief inspection, pay you in cash, and tow the car away. It is that simple. We can often pay $500 for a car and we do not usually need the title.


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Here is how to unclog a catalytic converter. If your converter is shot, you may need a new car. We would love to buy your old one. Visit our website today.