Unclogging a catalytic converter is necessary when it becomes overworked from restricting exhaust flow to the point where it can no longer function as intended. Overworked, clogged converters can cause a variety of problems that will end with a check engine light illuminating on the dashboard, and once that happens you’re going to have a hard time getting anywhere until you fix the problem. When this happens, there are actually two issues:
1. The catalytic converter has become too restricted for proper emissions control.
2. The car is struggling to produce power because of incomplete combustion due to poor airflow out through the piston rings into your exhaust system.
Unclogging your catalytic converter will correct both problems at once because while you are allowing unfettered exhaust flow through the converter, bypassing it entirely so that you still have proper emissions control, you are also improving air quality in your engine.
How to unclog a catalytic converter?
There are many different ways to unclog a catalytic converter both by yourself at home and by an automotive maintenance professional, but regardless of if you’re doing it yourself or using a service garage to do it for you, there are some important things to keep in mind beforehand.
1. Check Your Exhaust System
If your car’s exhaust system is damaged anywhere along its route from the engine to the tailpipe, even slightly, this will prevent gas from exiting out of the piston rings quickly enough and cause incomplete combustion back into the car’s intake system. When this happens, it will cause carbon and other combustion byproducts to build up in the engine and you’ll need to unclog your catalytic converter.
2. Check to See if Your Catalytic Converter is Venting
If you can see or smell exhausted coming out of your vehicle’s tailpipe then there is a good chance that either one or both of your cylinder heads have warped from working too hard for too long, or there is a buildup of another material inside the PCV valve which should prevent this from happening. Either way, since both situations indicate that your car isn’t able to manage its own emissions control very well anymore then you are going to need to fix this before continuing on with any additional diagnosis because the two issues are slightly related.
3. Check the Air Filter
The air filter is very important because if it is clogged, your engine will have a tough time getting enough oxygen to help it combust gasoline into carbon dioxide and water vapor. This means that this problem must be addressed before anything else can happen.
4. One way to unclog a catalytic converter is to use a vacuum cleaner
One way to unclog a catalytic converter is to use a vacuum cleaner. Start by disconnecting the hose from the exhaust pipe and attaching it to the vacuum cleaner. Turn on the vacuum cleaner and hold it against the exhaust pipe for about 10 minutes. Be sure to wear safety goggles and gloves when doing this.
5. To pour a pot of boiling water onto it
Another way to unclog a catalytic converter is to pour a pot of boiling water onto it. Start by pouring a pot of boiling water onto the exhaust pipe. Be sure to wear safety goggles and gloves when doing this.
6. Use a mixture of baking soda and water
Another way to unclog a catalytic converter is to use a mixture of baking soda and water. Start by pouring one cup of baking soda into the pot, stirring in ½ gallon of warm water, and adding 2 tablespoons of dishwasher detergent. Pour this mixture onto the exhaust pipe and allow it to sit for 20 minutes before rinsing with cold water.
7. Use compressed air
Yet another way to unclog a catalytic converter is to use compressed air. First, attach an air hose to your car’s tailpipe and start the engine (be sure the car is outside). Turn on the compressor and direct it towards the tailpipe until all signs of smoke disappear from the tailpipe. Turn off the compressor and car, and remove the air hose.
No matter which method you choose, be sure to wear safety goggles and gloves when unclogging your catalytic converter. And never operate a car in an enclosed area. Always do this work outdoors in a well-ventilated area.
Time for you to go ahead and replace it with a brand-new
Verify that the Catalytic Converter cannot be cleaned if you’ve been noticing any of these symptoms as a result of your catalytic converter working too hard, then it’s probably time for you to go ahead and replace it with a brand-new one from AutoZone or other automotive parts retailer:
- Exhaust system problems such as damaged outlets or improperly routed exhaust pipes.
- An illuminated check engine light.
- Rough idling or stalling while you’re driving because your engine doesn’t have enough power to get up to speed anymore.
- A decrease in gas mileage that appears unrelated to fuel efficiency. Once you’ve ruled out any outside influences on your car’s ability to get good gas mileage then it’s time for you to assume the problem is with your catalytic converter and unclog it once and for all. Note: If you are only seeing a drop in performance without any other symptoms, unclogging your catalytic converter will help restore both emissions control and power back into your vehicle. If the check engine light comes back on after clearing it (or does not appear at all) then there may be another problem that you will need to address.
If your catalytic converter is clogged, you may experience a decrease in engine performance or even difficulty starting your car. You can unclog a catalytic converter using a few simple methods.