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How To Fix A Clogged Catalytic Converter With These Easy Steps

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Any vehicle owner must know the basics of car maintenance. Not only will this save you a lot of money, but it will also keep you from a lot of stress when emergencies happen. And necessary vehicle maintenance also happens to include cleaning of the vehicle and its engine.

That is why today, we will be featuring a simple step by step guide on how to fix a clogged catalytic converter.

Clogged Catalytic Converter Symptoms

Just like any other vehicle problem, a clogged catalytic converter manifests itself in several ways. It is essential that you know the symptoms to be able to address the issue right away.

Here are some of the most common clogged catalytic converter symptoms:


One of the most common symptoms would be when your vehicle experiences thermal shock. Thus, suffering overheating. A clogged catalytic converter doesn’t allow enough gases to pass through it and in turn, affects the performance of your engine.

As a result, the engine receives a fuel mixture that’s too rich (with unburned fuel) causing thermal failure. Overheating can also happen when your converter experiences direct contact with ice or cold water while it is hot.

Check the exterior surface of the converter as well as its housing for discoloration or damages.

Power Loss

On the other hand, power loss is also a common symptom. When your vehicle is about to go through an uphill, you will suddenly experience a protesting engine. That, accompanied by a sudden loss of power is a clear sign that something is wrong with the catalytic converter.

It also means that your fuel efficiency is not its best.

Rattling/Clunking Noise

A rattling or clunking noise even without road rocks or small debris is another symptom that you have a clogged catalytic converter. However, it is also important to note that going over rough roads and little dirt entering the engine itself can also damage the catalytic converter.

Rotten Egg Odor From Fumes

Although your car is bound to release some fumes, watch out for fumes that smell like rotten egg. That is a crucial indicator that is also easy to spot when your catalytic converter has a problem.

Again, this odor is due to the reduced fuel efficiency of your engine as well as the imbalance in the fuel mixture.

It is critical that you deal with these symptoms as soon as possible. A clogged catalytic converter might cause you several problems such as poor engine performance and lousy gas mileage.

Moreover, a vehicle with clogged catalytic converter produces emissions that are much more harmful than one with a fully functioning converter.

Things You Will Be Needing

Naturally, a clogged catalytic converter does not necessarily have to get replaced right away. You can “fix” it by first de-clogging or cleaning it. But to do this, you might need a few things first. Here are some things you might need for the task:

  • Wrench
  • Cleaning cloth/fabric
  • Eye protection (working goggles/shades/helmet)
  • Pressurized washer (also known as high-pressure washer)


The Steps

Step 1: Prepare the location and the materials needed.

Before starting the task, it is best that you pick a spot that is conducive as you will be cleaning the converter. Make sure you have enough space for work. Also, make sure you have quick access to clean water and a high-pressure washer.

Then, open the hood of your engine for initial inspection.

Step 2: Remove the catalytic converter to inspect it. 

Remove the catalytic converter to inspect it

Using your wrench, remove the bolts that secure the converter in place by loosening them up. After loosening up all the screws, gently lift and take the converter to a stable surface for inspection.

For the inspection, you can start by assessing the housing for discolorations and warping. Also, you can shake the converter a bit for any noise from within. Should you hear any sound that indicates any damage, removes and replace the damaged part first.

Step 3: You can now clean the converter.

clean the converter

After the inspection (and damaged part replacement if applicable), you can now start declogging. With the clean cloth or fabric, wipe off any dirt or residue first from the surface or housing of the converter.

Use the high-pressure washer to push out any rocks or debris that may have gotten caught in the converter. Make sure to get into inlet pipes and even the outlet pipes as well.

If you feel as if this isn’t enough to clean the converter, you can mix some hot water with a degreaser. Soak the converter into the mixture for a few minutes then take it out for rinsing.

Step 4: Let your converter dry before putting it back in the engine for testing.

Now, before you go ahead to re-install the converter into the engine, make sure that it dries out properly first. You can use any dry and clean cloth to pat away some of the excess water droplets to speed up the drying time.

After drying, then you can place it back into the exhaust system. Carefully put the bolts in place again. Finally, test your engine first to see if the procedure has improved your vehicle’s performance.

If not, do not hesitate to consult professionals as soon as possible.

Summing It Up

Fixing a clogged catalytic converter is not a significant problem to fuss. However, it is also vital that you deal with it immediately as to keep your engine in top condition.

After all, having your vehicle maintained is a must if you want to keep it running smoothly. It is also an excellent way to prevent you from experiencing potential accidents and hazards caused by vehicle problems.

We wish you luck for this task! 





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