Catalytic converters are made to last for a long time, and they rarely fail. However, there are times when they can become clogged and need cleaning. Routine cleaning of your catalytic converter can also help prevent clogs and major issues down the road. You could experience problems such as poor engine performance, decreased fuel economy, or a failed inspection!
If you have let things go too far and you already have a clogged converter, don’t fear! There are products available that can clean your catalytic converter. Many of them give you more bang for the buck because they will clean your fuel system, including fuel injectors, and your entire exhaust system as well! If you need help selecting the right product for your situation, then keep reading!
How to Clean My Catalytic Converter?
Before you start trying to clean your catalytic converter, you need to make sure that it actually needs cleaning. There is no need in wasting your time or money on a process or product that is not necessary. So, how can you tell if your catalytic converter is clogged or needs cleaning?
Symptoms of a Clogged Catalytic Converter
Rotten Egg Smell
If you have a rotten egg smell coming from your exhaust, then chances are good that a clogged catalytic converter is the culprit. Since the converter essentially filters out sulfur dioxide and other harmful gases like carbon monoxide from your exhaust, this smell becomes apparent when the gases are not being filtered properly. If you smell rotten eggs near your tailpipe, then it’s probably time to consider cleaning your catalytic converter.
Reduced Fuel Economy
A clogged converter increases the pressure in your exhaust system. Due to the increased pressure, you will have to press the accelerator a little harder to get your car to drive like normal. Pressing the accelerator a little harder will decrease your fuel efficiency, thereby making you get fewer miles to the gallon. While a reduction in fuel economy can also signal other issues, it could be a clogged converter, so it would be worth cleaning it to see if it helps.
Check Engine Light
If your check engine light illuminates, it could possibly be an issue with your catalytic converter. Your oxygen sensors are constantly monitoring your exhaust gases, so if there is a problem, it will signal the light to come on. A good repair shop can read the code associated with the light and tell you whether it is an issue with your catalytic converter.
Failed Emissions Test
If you fail an emissions test, then chances are high that you need to clean your catalytic converter. In fact, some cleaning products even guarantee that you will pass your emission test after using the product! Since the harmful exhaust gases are no longer being converted to less harmful gases like carbon dioxide, the testing equipment will sense these harmful gases and you’ll be getting a failing grade from the inspector! Give your catalytic converter a good cleaning and chances will be much higher that you will get a passing grade.
Most cleaning products are very simple to use and can be done without any tools right in your garage or driveway. Catalytic converter cleaners simply need to be poured into your fuel tank so that they can work their way through your fuel system and out your exhaust. They work by removing gunk and buildup in the entire fuel system and removing carbon deposits and carbon buildup from the catalytic converter. Cleaning your converter is as simple as pouring a bottle of cleaner into your fuel tank right where you would normally refill at the gas pump.
If your catalytic converter has become clogged, it is usually because your air/fuel mixture is too rich. This means that more fuel is being sprayed into the combustion chamber than your car needs. Not all of the fuel is burned when your spark plugs fire, so some of it is sent out through your exhaust. This unburned fuel accumulates inside your converter and causes a clog to form. Unless you fix the root cause of the issue, you are likely to need to continue using catalytic converter cleaner every 3,000 miles or so. Some people even recommend using a bottle of cleaning product at every other fill-up.
Once you have poured the product into your gas tank, simply drive the car like normal. Since the cleaning product mixes with your gas, it works as you drive! There is nothing else that you need to do. See how simple that is! You might be wondering whether catalytic converter cleaners work or not. The answer depends on how badly your converter is clogged. Keep reading to find out more.
How Can I Unclog My Catalytic Converter?
The answer to this depends on how severe the clog inside the converter is. If it is minor or the converter is simply dirty, then a bottle of converter cleaner should likely take care of the problem. This is an inexpensive fix and well worth the money. Many mechanics recommend cleaning your catalytic converter several times per year. Cleaner is cheap compared to the expensive cost of repairing or replacing your catalytic converter. However, if things are more severe, then a simple bottle of cleaner may not do the trick.
If your catalytic converter is severely clogged, it may require more than one bottle of cleaner. It might take a few times before it becomes unclogged. If things are really bad or your converter is damaged, then the part may need to be replaced completely. You should know up front that this is an expensive repair!
Catalytic converters use precious metals such as platinum, rhodium, and palladium to create the chemical reactions necessary to convert your exhaust gases, so they are very expensive parts. The part alone can cost over $1,000, so replacement of this part can sometimes exceed $2,500 when including labor and other required materials. Most people do not have this kind of cash sitting around for an unexpected car repair.
If you are in need of a catalytic converter replacement and don’t have the money for it, you do have other options. Auto Wranglers will make you an instant cash offer to purchase your vehicle regardless of its condition. They will come to you to pick up your car with free towing and pay you cash on the spot. There is no need to worry about those expensive repairs and how you will pay for them. Sell your car for cash today and use that money to buy yourself another car with no issues!
If your catalytic converter is still in decent shape and can simply be cleaned, then keep reading. We will take a look at some of the best catalytic converter cleaning treatments out there. We’ll review the pros and cons of each one as well as where you can purchase them.
Cataclean Complete Engine, Fuel and Exhaust System Cleaner
This product from Mr. Gasket is the best of the best. Simply pour the Cataclean solution into your fuel tank and let it go to work! This product reduces carbon buildup in your catalytic converter, oxygen sensors, cylinder heads, and fuel injectors. In fact, independent testing has shown that this product can reduce hydrocarbon emissions by up to 50% While it is a bit pricey compared to some of the other products on this list, it is worth the money. You can check the latest price here on Amazon.
Rating: Best Overall Cleaner
- Great cleaning ability
- Large reduction in emission levels
- Helps with hard starts
- Good for gasoline engines and diesel engines
- Expensive compared to other cleaners
- Not for use in two stroke engines
Chevron Techron Complete Fuel System Cleaner
Chevron is a name that has been trusted in the automobile industry for many years. They produce quality products at inexpensive prices, and their fuel system cleaner is no different. Their cleaner will remove deposits from your fuel system and cylinder heads. It is also one of the best injector cleaners on the market. Given its inexpensive price, many people choose to go ahead and purchase a multipack so they can use it every 3,000 miles. A single bottle can be purchased for just under $12 here.
Rating: Best Value & Fuel Treatment
- Inexpensive price
- Helps with hard starts
- Great at removing deposits
- Bottle is difficult to open
- Not great at targeting specifically the catalytic converter
Solder-It CAT-1 Catalytic Converter Cleaner
The Solder-It is a catalytic cleaner that specifically helps to remove the rotten egg smell from your exhaust. This product does not contain many of the detergent additives that many competitors do, so it is considered a gentler cleaner than some others. It helps to increase time between tune-ups and can clear error codes related to clogged catalytic converters. If your catalytic converter is still in decent shape, then this is a great product that can help clean your system. You can check the latest prices here.
Review: Best Cleaner for Removing Foul Odors
- Removes rotten egg smell from exhaust
- Helps clear error codes
- Increases time between tune ups
- Only works with gasoline engines
- Does not work for cleaning large deposits
CRC Guaranteed to Pass Emissions Test Formula
If you need some serious cleaning, then this CRC product is the way to go. It provides the maximum allowable chemistry to provide superior cleaning results. Its powerful cleaning detergents help to dissolve and reduce buildup in your fuel system. In fact, they guarantee that you will pass your emissions test or you will get double your money back. Quite a claim for any product, especially since you can purchase it here for less than $10 per bottle.
Rating: Best Cleaner for Difficult Clogs or Buildup
- Guaranteed to pass emissions test
- Strong cleaning ability
- Can be rough on your engine due to extreme detergents
- Does not work with diesel engines
OXICAT Oxygen Sensor and Catalytic Converter Cleaner
This is a cleaner that specifically targets your oxygen sensors and catalytic converter. This special formula actually begins to really work when your converter gets to full operating temperature. OXICAT recommends regular use of this product to prevent buildup, and they state plainly that this product is not a “mechanic in a can” used to repair exhaust systems. You can purchase it here for about $15 per can, and may be a great solution as a preventative treatment.
Rating: Best Preventative Cleaner to Avoid Buildups
- Works with gasoline and diesel engines – even hybrid vehicles
- Specifically targets your catalytic converter
- Great at preventing carbon buildup
- Requires regular use to maintain benefits
- Car must reach and maintain operating temperature for product to work
If your catalytic converter is on the fritz, then you should consider using a cleaner to try and resolve those issues. However, if the damage is already too bad, then you might end up needing a replacement. Since this is quite an expensive repair, you might be better off selling your car to Auto Wranglers and getting some quick cash so that you can purchase another vehicle without those problems. We always provide free towing and pay cash on the spot. Contact us today for your instant free quote so that you know exactly what your car is worth. Forget those catalytic converter problems and get some cash instead.