Q:

How can a catalytic converter be unclogged?

A:

To unclog a catalytic converter, get onto a highway, and drive at high speed for a couple of miles, coming to a stop and starting again several times. Repeat two or three times, giving the converter a chance to expel debris.

  1. Drive the car at highway speed

    Take your car onto a highway, and drive it at the speed limit for 1 to 2 miles. Check your mirrors to make sure that a sudden deceleration is safe, and slow the car down quickly. Move over to the shoulder to complete this if necessary. Accelerate back to highway speed, repeating the process several times during the 2 miles. Estimate whether acceleration has improved; this is the best sign that you see while driving that the clog is gone.

  2. Try a higher speed

    Resume driving on the highway if the clog is still present. Check your mirrors and the surrounding lanes to make sure that driving somewhat above the speed limit is safe, and then drive up to a mile at that speed. Check your mirrors again, then slow to about half your speed and then accelerate again, going another mile.

  3. Monitor your fuel economy

    Measure your mileage the next two or three times you fill up your car with gasoline. Consider the performance of your car during acceleration, and use these two factors to determine whether replacing the catalytic converter is necessary.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    What does a catalytic converter do?

    A:

    Catalytic converters are emissions devices in vehicles that convert the harmful components in the engine's exhaust gas into harmless ones. This significantly reduces the amount of pollutants that a vehicle releases into the atmosphere. Catalytic converters are muffler-shaped and lie within the exhaust, and they contain catalysts, such as palladium and platinum, arranged in a honeycomb shape that react with the harmful components in the exhaust stream.

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  • Q:

    How hot does a catalytic converter get?

    A:

    A catalytic converter operates normally between 550 and 1,600 degrees Fahrenheit with the optimal temperature being about 806 degrees. Pollutants coming through the exhaust system can raise the temperature over 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, at which point, the catalytic converter can be severely damaged.

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  • Q:

    What are the signs of a bad catalytic converter?

    A:

    Signs of a faulty catalytic converter include reduced fuel economy, excess engine heat, and impaired engine or exhaust performance. A visible fuel vapor over the carburetor intake, performance changes after the removal of oxygen sensors and increased carbon emissions from the converter are also warning signs.

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  • Q:

    What are the signs of a catalytic converter going out in your car?

    A:

    A catalytic converter uses a blend of metals to absorb unburned hydrocarbons in gasoline-engine exhaust fumes and reduce pollution. Symptoms of a bad catalytic converter include exhaust noise, drivability issues and odors.

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