Catalytic converters are good for the health of the environment. However, if they fail at an inopportune moment, they may also create a great deal of havoc. Not only are they one of the most costly repairs for your vehicle, costing anywhere from $700 to $2,500, but if you fail your emissions test because of them, you will also lose your license.
If you are here to learn about the cheapest way to fix catalytic converter, the five least expensive methods to repair a catalytic converter are as follows:
- Using Gasoline Additives
- Catalytic Converter Cleaning
- Driving Aggressively
- Secondhand replacement
- Repairing Exhaust Leaks
Why Catalytic Converters Fail?
Since catalytic converters are designed to endure the lifespan of a vehicle, it is more likely that they will just get clogged with debris rather than breaking down entirely. This occurs because you spend most of your time driving in the city or on short journeys, neither of which gives the catalytic converter enough time to heat up.
Other problematic components that are directly or indirectly related to a catalytic converter might also cause it to get clogged or fail entirely. These include anything that may change the proportions of air to fuel in the engine. Injectors, a broken air filter, a fuel pressure regulator, a MAF (mass air flow) sensor, an O2 sensor, and so on are some examples of such components.
If any of these components break down or stop performing their functions effectively, it might result in a rich air-fuel combination and, as a consequence, an increase in the amount of carbon deposit. In addition, this may result in higher exhaust temperatures, which can cause the catalytic converter to experience thermal shock or even melt, ultimately leading to its failure.
In addition to this, a high temperature might be brought on by operating the vehicle on the incorrect gasoline, having engine misfires, or having coolant leaks inside the vehicle. This adds another layer of complexity to the situation and makes the number of potential components that might damage a catalytic converter even greater.
Last but not least, a catalytic converter may suffer physical damage, or other exhaust components may have leaks that cause the converter to perform in an inefficient manner. However, the following is a complete list of all of the possible reasons why a catalytic converter might fail.
What Overheats/Melts a Catalytic Converter?
- Engine misfires
- Failing O2 sensor
- Faulty spark plugs
- Poor fuel quality
- Wrong air/fuel ratio
What May Physically Damage a Catalytic Converter?
- Thermal shock or overheating
- Stripped threads for the O2 sensor
- Material failure
- Holes developing on it
What Makes a Catalytic Converter Clogged Up?
- Carbon build-up
- Internal coolant leaks as well as a head gasket that has failed
- A poor grade fuel or one that contains the improper additives
- An excessive amount of oil is released into the exhaust coming from the combustion chamber.
6 Common Symptoms of a Bad Catalytic Converter
Some of the signs of a failing catalytic converter coincide with those of other malfunctioning components. Having said that, you can’t get away from a few of them.
If you think you have a faulty converter, check to see if it has any of the following symptoms: a smell like sulfur, rattling noises within, or discolouration. Even if you have a fault code that indicates the catalytic converter, there is still a possibility that the issue is caused by something else.
Catalytic Converter Housing Discoloration
The converter exhibits visible evidence of overheating, much in the same way that any metal will change color or become darker after being subjected to fire or heat. To reiterate, the only remedy is to replace it since discoloration often means that it has failed completely.
If you hear rattling coming from within the catalytic converter, this indicates that the honeycomb structure that is located inside has been damaged or disintegrated. If such is the case, then the only option that remains is to get a new one.
If you smell sulfur or rotten eggs, you may have a problem with your catalytic converter. It may be damaged or blocked. This occurs when it stops neutralizing the hydrogen sulfide, which results in a buildup of the compound and an excessive amount of odor.
Increased Exhaust Emissions
To reiterate, clogged catalytic converter results in a less surface area to which molecules may attach, which in turn leads to increased levels of exhaust emissions.
Poor Performance and High Fuel Consumption
Naturally, the flow through a catalytic converter will be restricted if it becomes clogged with debris or if the honeycomb becomes damaged and becomes lodged in the exhaust. Your car’s performance and fuel consumption will both be directly impacted as a result of this.
Fault Code P0420 and Check Engine Light
If the catalytic converter is malfunctioning, the check engine light will definitely come on; however, it is impossible to predict what error number you will get from the computer. The presence of a failure code P0420, on the other hand, indicates an inefficient catalyst system.
Despite this, it does not necessarily imply that there is a problem with the catalytic converter. A faulty coolant temperature sensor, a faulty O2 sensor, exhaust leaks, and other components are all examples of elements that have the potential to be defective.
How to Fix a Catalytic Converter?
Before attempting to repair the catalytic converter, it is strongly recommended to do a comprehensive inspection of the vehicle in order to determine the reason why it failed and whether or not it is defective. As we have discussed, there are a variety of factors that might lead to its failure or lead you to believe that it has already failed. But if you are sure that it has to be fixed, the following is what you can do about it.
Drive Aggressively (But Safe)
Try going for a few highway pulls if you don’t notice any serious symptoms but do notice a little rise in fuel consumption and a somewhat visible loss in power. This is the cheapest way to fix catalytic converter. It goes without saying that you should never go above the posted speed limit and should never put anybody else’s safety in jeopardy when driving.
The catalytic converter will get hotter after some high-speed driving at high RPMs, which will cause the flow through it to climb to far higher levels than normal. You may find that this is sufficient to overcome any blockages in the honeycomb, which might save you a significant amount of money.
It’s likely that the only thing your catalytic converter needs is a good cleaning if you just drive in the city, don’t drive aggressively, and take only short, speedy excursions. You might try one of the many fuel additives or catalytic converter cleaners that are available on the market.
We would suggest the CataClean since it has the greatest reviews and is safe for all kinds of cars, including diesel, gasoline, hybrid, and flex-fuel vehicles. Flex-fuel vehicles may use any combination of gasoline and diesel fuel. Additionally, it is simple to use; all you need to do is empty the full bottle into your vehicle’s gas tank, and you will be ready to go. But if it doesn’t work, try looking at the next possible option.
Catalytic Converter Flush
Removing a catalytic converter is necessary to flush it. It may seem like a pain, but it is the most effective approach to clean the converter. By shining a light through the converter, not only are you able to see for yourself whether it is clogged, but you are also able to check if you have cleaned it in the appropriate manner.
The removal procedure is specific to each vehicle, and in certain instances, it may not even be feasible to remove it at all. Having said that, you may simply determine whether you are able to do the task by squeezing under the vehicle and checking to see if it is fastened on, as is often the case. After that, removing it will need little more than a few wrenches, some rust remover, and some elbow grease.
After you have accomplished this, you should keep it overnight immersed in some soapy detergent water, and then the following day, you should flush it with a garden hose. Check to see whether it’s been cleaned, and if it hasn’t been, start the procedure over again.
Instead of detergent, you might use sodium hydroxide, but if you do so, be sure to protect your lungs by donning a mask and carry out the procedure in a well-ventilated area.
Second Hand or a Universal Replacement
If changing your car’s catalytic converter is the only option, you may look for a used one that is compatible with the make and model of your vehicle.
To be fair, it won’t be a simple task since most of them have already been stripped down and sold for scrap metal, and they won’t be very cheap either.
If you want to find one, look for it in a nearby scrap yard or repair shop. This way, you can verify that it is in good shape and that it still has the honeycomb on the inside. You might also try your luck with a new universal catalytic converter.
The placement of your stock converter will determine whether or not it is possible for you to install one. However, depending on the size, you can acquire a brand new universal converter for anywhere from seventy to two hundred and fifty dollars.
There are a number of indications that might point to the fact that your converter is damaged, despite the fact that it is not melted or blocked. Check for exhaust leaks on all of the component parts as well as the catalytic converter itself before you go ahead and replace it. In particular, inspect the O2 sensor to ensure that it is sealing well and that its threads have not been damaged.
Repairing an exhaust leak is a sure way to alleviate at least some and often all of the symptoms associated with a faulty catalytic converter, and it doesn’t cost very much to do so. A modest exhaust leak may be fixed for as little as thirty dollars, while a significant leak can cost as much as one hundred dollars to be fixed.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. What is the life of a Catalytic Converter?
If maintained properly, a catalytic converter should last the whole lifespan of the vehicle. However, the lifespan of the catalytic converter is strongly impacted by the condition of other components, and as a result, it often fails somewhere around 100,000 miles.
2. What happens if we do not replace the faulty converter?
Your vehicle’s fuel efficiency and performance will both suffer if you do not replace the catalytic converter when it has reached the end of its useful life. If you keep driving like that for an extended amount of time, not only will you fail the emissions test, but you might also end up causing further harm to the engine.
3. Is it worth replacing a catalytic converter?
If there is no method to repair the catalytic converter then the answer is yes; it is worth the money. Having said that, you should begin by attempting to clean it since, the vast majority of the time, that will be the only problem with it.
4. Can engine damage be caused by a clogged catalytic converter?
There is truth to the claim that a clogged catalytic converter may harm an engine. When a catalytic converter becomes clogged with debris, the operating temperatures of the engine rise dramatically, which often has an effect on the air-fuel ratio.
5. What is the cheapest way to fix catalytic converter?
Checking to see whether a catalytic converter needs to be cleaned is the most cost-effective approach to repair it. If your converter is clogged, a technician will be able to tell you whether or not it has to be unclogged.
However, finding an affordable solution to replace a catalytic converter could be more challenging. Inquire with people you know whether they have an unused converter that they would be willing to sell.
Look in the internet ads and discussion groups to see if you can find a used converter for sale. If you go around and do some digging, you should be able to locate a used converter for a much more reasonable price than a brand new one.
6. Is it possible to repair the catalytic converter?
The correct answer is maybe. If the issue is only a clogged converter, it is feasible that the converter may be cleaned and made to function normally once again. On the other hand, if the converter has sustained damage that cannot be fixed, you will have to replace it.
To avoid the need for a repair on the catalytic converter, it is essential that you make sure the engine in your vehicle is working well. This is one of the most crucial things you can do. When your engine is properly tuned, it will create less emissions, which means that your catalytic converter won’t have to work as hard to clean the air.
Be sure to do routine maintenance, such as oil changes, and have any problems with the engine fixed as soon as possible.
7. Can we drive the car without a catalytic converter?
Although it is true that it is possible to drive any vehicle without a catalytic converter, doing so is not advised since it may cause the check engine light to come on and, in certain situations, particularly with current vehicles, it may cause damage.
8. Why is a catalytic converter so expensive to replace?
It is not only difficult to manufacture a catalytic converter, but it also contains a significant quantity of precious metals, such as palladium, rhodium, and platinum which makes it quite costly to replace a catalytic converter. Because of the high value of each of these metals, which ranges from more than $30 per gram, catalytic converters are often targeted by thieves.
The Bottom Line
Because the majority of issues with catalytic converters turn out to be caused by other malfunctioning parts, sensors, or components, as we have indicated, doing a comprehensive check is required before attempting to resolve the issue.
In addition, even if you discover that the catalytic converter is damaged, it’s extremely probable that the problem was caused by the same malfunctioning components, so check once again to see if there are any other issues with the vehicle.
If that is not the case, the catalytic converter is probably blocked as a result of driving slowly in the city, which means that cleaning it is the ideal answer before you go any further.
To do this, you will first need to engage in somewhat more aggressive driving for a few days, reaching the vehicle’s redline on occasion. If it doesn’t work, you can always try several fuel additive cleansers for the catalytic converter, or you may remove it and flush it with some water and soap.
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