How To Unclog A Catalytic Converter of Your Car in 3 Methods

How To Unclog A Catalytic Converter of Your Car in 3 Methods

Mahedi Hasan 9:51 pm

Is your vehicle malfunctioning? Maybe your car or truck doesn’t pick up speed when you press the gas pedal. Or, perhaps you’ve noticed that your vehicle isn’t as fuel efficient as it once was.

The problem may be with the operation of your vehicle’s catalytic converter. Check out some information on how to unblock a catalytic converter.

How To Unclog A Catalytic Converter

How to Know If the Catalytic Converter is Clogged?

There are other signs your catalytic converter is clogged besides the ones mentioned above. One sign is you go to start your vehicle and it doesn’t turn over.

This means your catalytic converter is so clogged that the exhaust gases have no way of traveling to the muffler and out into the air. Consequently, your car or truck won’t start.

Another sign you have a clogged catalytic converter is your vehicle fails an emissions test. This test measures the emissions leaving your car. So, if your catalytic converter is badly clogged, the test will detect the problem right away.

If the check engine light on your dashboard turns on, then it could be a sign of a clogged catalytic converter. A mechanic can run diagnostic tests on a car or truck to determine whether the converter is clogged.

How to Unclog a Catalytic Converter?

Unclog a Catalytic Converter

Taking a catalytic converter off your car and driving without it is against the law in some states and can earn you a hefty fine. Fortunately, if you have a clogged catalytic converter to fix you have some choices.

Method #1 – Take Out your Car on the Highway

Take Your Car To The Highway

Start your car and take it out onto the highway at a time when there is light traffic. Travel for about two miles maintaining the speed limit. Next, press your brake pedal to decrease your speed.

Repeat this routine. If you find your car is responding better than it was when you first took it out, then you’ve probably unclogged it. As a note, this can be a risky thing to do so take all precautions necessary.

Method #2 – Take Your car to a Mechanic

Take Your car to a Mechanic

Your second option is to take your car to a mechanic right away. Mechanics have the equipment and training to open your catalytic converter and examine it to see if it’s clogged.

Method #3 – Do It Yourself in Few Steps

Do it yourself

Maybe you’re skilled with repairing cars and trucks. In that case, if there is a clogged catalytic converter to fix, you may want to risk the fine and do it yourself.

Step #1 – Take Safety

Gather your tools for the job including a pair of safety goggles, a clean towel, a clear plastic container, a power washer, a supply of hot water, degreaser and a wrench. Park your car on a flat surface and raise it up on a car jack. It’s best to park your car on a concrete or cement surface.

Parking it on a patch of grass can cause the car jacks to slowly sink into the ground putting you at risk. This is another reason why it’s best to do this sort of work with a friend nearby.

Step #2 – Removing the Catalytic Converter

Slide under the car and locate the catalytic converter. Look for the bolts securing it to your car and remove them with the wrench.

This could take a while depending on how rusted they are as well as the age of your car. Put them in the clear plastic container so they don’t roll away. Pull the catalytic converter out of its place.

Step #3 – Inspect the Catalytic Converter

Inspect the catalytic converter and shake it to see if it has any loose debris inside. Also, look build-up to its structure. Check the overbuild-opinion of it. If it’s falling apart in your hands, it’s time to get rid of it and buy a new one.

Step #4 – Cleaning Catalytic Converter

Take your clean towel and remove the build-up of dirt on your catalytic converter. The power washer can be used to remove debris from the inside of the part as well as the inlet pipes.

Soaking it in a combination of degreaser and hot water can remove really stubborn build up from your catalytic converter.

Step #5 – Dry the Converter

Leave your catalytic converter out to dry thoroughly before bolting it back onto your car. Put the clear container of bolts near the area where your converter is drying so they’re close at hand. Don’t drive the car without this part.


Lastly, once your catalytic converter is unclogged your car should run much better. Learning how to unclog a catalytic converter and clean it means you have a valuable skill that can keep your car operating safely and efficiently on the streets and highways.

Of course, making sure your catalytic converter is clean also contributes to keeping harmful exhaust out of the environment.