Catalytic Converter Repair Without Replacing It

Have you ever wondered how to carry out a catalytic converter repair without replacing it?

It’s crucial that you’re able to understand various catalytic converter repair options without having to replace the catalytic converter. Changing the catalytic converter is usually more expensive and time-consuming than a catalytic converter repair.

In this article, we will explain various catalytic converter repair options without having to replace it. We all also explain how much a catalytic converter repair will cost, how to maintain your catalytic converter after performing a catalytic converter repair, and answer any questions you might have regarding how to fix catalytic converter without replacing it.

Let’s Begin!

As you prepare to do a catalytic converter repair, there are several options for you to consider. We will explain each option and tell you just how to fix a catalytic converter without replacing it.

1. Use Catalytic Converter Cleaning Additives

Catalytic converter cleaning additives can clean your catalytic converter and improve your car’s general performance if your catalytic converter is clogged.

But, of course, this is even more beneficial if your car uses regular gasoline instead of rich gasoline with additives.

If your car often has gas mileage problems, poor engine performance, or catalytic converter issues, you should use premium gas that comes with an additive; it could help stop the problem.

2. Deep Clean the Catalytic Converter

The catalytic converter should be pressure washed to get rid of dirt and unwanted impurities. The option may seem intimidating to someone unfamiliar with it, but the process is relatively easy and safe.

Ensure that you clean both the front and back ends of the catalytic converter to make sure that all junks are washed out.

You can go the extra mile to ensure total cleaning by first soaking the part in hot water mixed with laundry detergent or degreaser.

Make sure it overcomes the massive grease buildup. Allow it for some minutes, then pressure wash it, dry it and install it.

3. Perform an Italian Tune-up

As crazy and unbelievable as this may sound, an Italian tune-up is a suitable catalytic converter repair option for fixing a clogged catalytic converter.

Most car owners don’t go on long road trips with their cars or use the highway where they can run at high speed, and they primarily drive their vehicles for short distances, which does not help your car catalytic converter.

The idea behind the Italian tune-up for catalytic converter repair is to drive your car until it becomes hot to dissolve the debris that has clogged the catalytic converter.

To do this, run your car at high RPMs and high speeds for a few minutes on the highway to bring the temperature of your catalytic converter up. The optimal temperature is between 800 and 1,832 degrees Fahrenheit.

This heat helps burn out the clogged deposits in the catalytic converter, the cylinder head, the intake sensor, and the exhaust.

Remember to stay safe when performing this catalytic converter repair option, and try to keep within the speed limit of the road to avoid getting a speeding ticket.

4. Find and Fix the Cause of the Catalytic Converter Damage

The best way to treat a car problem is not by treating the symptoms; instead, it is by treating the cause.

Unfortunately, treating the symptoms will only temporarily solve the problem, and after some time, the problem will resurface.

Catalytic Converters are designed not to be replaced, and they can last as long as the vehicle’s lifespan.

Therefore whenever a catalytic converter gets bad, the cause of the problem does not come from the converter; instead, it comes from other parts.

Hence, try and make a proper diagnosis to know where the fault is coming from and not work to fix the symptoms.

Also Read: Bad Catalytic Converter Symptoms & How To Fix

What Is a Catalytic Converter?

Catalytic Converter Repair

A catalytic converter is one of the exhaust components found between the muffler and the manifold. A catalytic converter is popularly called a “cat.”

Cars with one exhaust have one catalytic converter, while those with two exhausts will have two for each exhaust. However, vehicles with higher ends now have two cats to help reduce gas emissions.

The primary job of a catalytic converter is to remove/filter out or convert toxic gases such as improperly or unburned hydrocarbon, carbon monoxide, and nitric oxide.

Most of the smog found in cities results from these poisonous gases; therefore, Catalytic Converter removes these gases and prevents them from moving into the atmosphere.

How Do Catalytic Converters Work?

Modern vehicles are now designed to operate in such a way as to make them free from emitting toxic gases. This has been archived through the help of devices such as emission control and catalytic converters.

Though it will be challenging to ideally achieve zero-emission of these gases, it is not impossible.

Catalytic converters use rich and rare metals such as rhodium, platinum, and palladium in conjunction with high heat to oxidize these gases into environmentally friendly compounds such as water and nitrogen gas.

What Causes a Catalytic Converter to Go Bad?

Catalytic Converter Repair

Catalytic converters are designed to last for a lifetime; however, they can sometimes get bad or damaged and need replacement.

Engine problems will lead to catalytic converter problems. In addition, when a part of the engine is faulty, it can also affect the catalytic converter.

The most frequent reason for this is a defective spark plug, incorrect air/fuel mixture, oxygen sensor failure, and engine timing fault.

If fuel leaves the engine combustion compartment unburnt, it can also cause catalytic converter issues.

The above issues can cause the catalytic converter to attain a very high temperature and cause the internal component of the cat to start melting, resulting in catalytic converter damage.

Also, thick carbon soot can form within the catalytic converter due to bad valve seals, worn-out piston rings, or failed gasket, causing antifreeze or oil to enter the exhaust network.

When this carbon builds up so much, it can prevent the catalytic converter from doing its job. This problem can also cause overheating of the engine and could ultimately kill the engine if not attended to.

Lastly, your car catalytic converter can get worse due to physical damages, resulting from bad roads causing cracks on the surface of the catalytic converter or within it.

It can reduce or even stop the catalytic converter from working when this happens.

Bad Catalytic Converter Symptoms

Here are six signs that you need a catalytic converter repair

1. A Rotten Egg Smell From the Exhaust Pipe

Gasoline has some amount of sulfur, and during combustion, they form hydrogen sulfide. Therefore when you perceive a rotten egg smell, it could be a sign of failed catalytic converter.

When the catalytic converter is in good working condition, it converts smelly gas into odorless gas; when it is bad, it won’t be able to do this conversion, thereby releasing the rotten egg smell.

2. Check Engine Light Is On

In most cases, your check engine light is what gives you the first sign that something is wrong with your car.

The check engine gets illuminated on your dashboard, signaling a problem. Oxygen sensors monitor the catalytic converter efficiency; it sends the signal to illuminate the check engine light on the dashboard whenever the efficiency drops.

Your check engine light does not directly point out the problem, but it tells you there’s a problem. Therefore whenever it comes on, ensure to carry out a diagnosis to ascertain the exact problem.

3. Poor Acceleration

If your car is not getting enough power from the engine as it should, then there’s a high possibility that your vehicle needs catalytic converter repair.

Poor acceleration is more often than not the first sign of a bad catalytic converter.

The catalytic converter will get blocked when there’s a black soot buildup in the honeycomb, or the internal components start melting because of too much heat from fuel that wasn’t burnt.

When your exhaust flow is blocked by carbon buildup or the catalytic converter is clogged, it will create difficulty in allowing the car to access enough power from the engine, causing poor or difficult acceleration.

4. Failed Emissions Test

If you reside in the United States, you will be required to carry out a smog test at least once in a few years.

The test helps ensure that your car does not have unburned gases or release toxic gases. Whenever your vehicle does not pass this test, one common reason is that your catalytic converter may be faulty or damaged, and you need a catalytic converter repair.

5. Rattling Noise

When you start your car and start hearing a loud rattling sound, it could be that components of your catalytic converter have broken apart due to too much heat.

You should fix the problem as soon as possible by replacing the broken part; else, the pieces may find their way to the exhaust network, causing a blockage that can hinder you from starting your car and lead to more severe damage.

6. Reduced Fuel Economy

Catalytic converter blockage can reduce the airflow in your car engine, resulting in your car burning more fuel than usual.

Since there’s reduced exhaust flow, you will have no choice as a driver but to step more on the gas pedal to provide more acceleration because the reduced airflow will cause poor acceleration.

This will force the engine to pump more fuel into the engine cylinder, which will affect the car by providing a mixture of rich fuel than it should.

Gas millage decrease is a sign of many problems, so it does not mean you need a catalytic converter repair when you notice such. However, combining one of the signs listed above could be a good indicator of a bad catalytic converter.

How to Avoid Catalytic Converter Problems

Catalytic Converter Repair

Remember the old saying, “prevention is better than cure.” So when you do the right things needed for your car to function effectively, you won’t fall victim to unnecessary car repairs.

Car engine problems such as coolant burning and engine misfire can result in catalytic converter failure. Therefore solving these problems on time will save you from catalytic converter problems.

Below are ways to avoid catalytic converter problems after carrying out a catalytic converter repair.

1. Regular Maintenance

Your car must not be utterly faulty before you visit an auto mechanic shop; regular maintenance helps see the problem even before it starts showing obvious signs.

The check engine light is also a point of call, and you should visit an auto mechanic workshop for a complete diagnosis of your car when it comes up.

2. Change a Bad Spark Plug

Your car plug is due for change whenever your car gets up to 50,000 miles. Changing it will save your vehicle from carbon buildup.

When they don’t get changed, they get worn out, even damaged, resulting in massive black soot buildup and damage to the catalytic converter.

Also Read: Spark Plug Replacement Cost

Does Your Catalytic Converter Need to Be Repaired, Cleaned, or Replaced?

Sometimes the problem of a catalytic converter is not far from being clogged; when that is the case, all it needs is proper cleaning. It would be best to visit your mechanic for cleaning.

If you are good with cars or have done mechanic-related jobs, you can do the cleaning yourself. You will need the service of a high-pressure washer to get rid of the dirt and blockages.

A liquid catalytic converter cleaner is a catalytic repair option that can help wash out all the unwarranted particles built up inside a catalytic converter. Getting this liquid will be of help.

If you run a car diagnosis, you may sometimes get a false reading, so you may be required to repair an exhaust system; this repair can also change the exhaust gasket and correct exhaust leakage.

Cleaning the catalytic converter is not always enough to solve problems; you may sometimes need to go an extra mile to solve the problem.

You should be sure of the cause and tackle it thoroughly, not completely solving just the symptoms.

How Much Does It Cost to Repair/Replace a Catalytic Converter?

Catalytic Converter Repair

Changing a catalytic converter is quite expensive. The cost is as high as $2,500 and above and as low as $1,000. This cost is affected by factors such as Car make and model, Cost of diagnosis and related components, Labor cost, Location, and Quality of replacement parts.

Also Read: How Much Does An Alternator Cost?

Frequently Asked Questions – Catalytic Converter Repair

Should I Fix or Replace My Catalytic Converter?

The cost of replacing a catalytic converter is very expensive. Therefore, we advise you only change it only in severe cases where it can no longer be fixed. Whenever you notice that your catalytic converter is bad, please take it to a professional for a proper diagnosis and fixing.

What Should I Do After Replacing the Catalytic Converter?

After a catalytic converter replacement, make sure that nothing is left unattended. Then start up your car engine, let it run on idle mode, and don’t fire. Allow it to warm up so that the temperature will be high enough. When the temperature is good enough, go into the car and throttle down to about 2500rpm; hold it for a couple of minutes, 2 minutes, or a little more before releasing.

How Do You Clear a Catalytic Converter Code?

First, make sure that the catalytic converter problem has been resolved. Then open the engine bay and detach the car battery. This will help clear the error codes and rest the computer.

Will the Check Engine Light Go Off After Replacing the Catalytic Converter?

Replacing a bad catalytic converter will turn off the check engine light, but sometimes it does not turn off the check engine light. Therefore, you will need to replace the oxygen sensor to see if the light will turn off.

What Happens if the Catalytic Converter Is Removed?

A car without a catalytic converter is a threat to the environment and people. Such cars emit toxic gases such as nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide, hydrocarbon, and other poisonous gases. It is also very harmful to your vehicle and can reduce car performance.

Will Removing Your Catalytic Converter Increase Gas Mileage?

No, a catalytic converter does not affect gas mileage. However, when a catalytic converter is clogged or blocked, it can affect the gas mileage.

Scott Greene is a seasoned automotive technician for over 5 years and has been deep into advanced automotive diagnostics for a couple of years. He Loves writing about Automotive Diagnostics and Repair, Trouble codes, Buyer guides for various car parts and accessories, and lots more. 

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