How To Fix Catalytic Converter Without Replacing- A Detailed Guide [2022]

Catalytic converters are a fundamental part of your vehicle. The catalytic converter is made to stay with your vehicle for all of its life span. However, no parts are perfect and might fail over time. Hopefully, you know that catalytic converters are expensive and the replacement will hurt your wallet. It is wise to replace a faulty catalytic converter to prevent any further engine issues.

You might want to know how to fix the catalytic converter without replacing it. Why not as it will save you tons of bucks? However, you can do so if you do not notice some symptoms like rattling sound, discoloration, or even an awkward smell.

The catalytic converter can be fixed easily. You can either wash it or use a lacquer thinner. We will discuss all of them in the later part of our article. All the concept of a catalytic converter is dependent on the question “What is a catalytic converter?”.


What A Catalytic Converter Is?

Catalytic converters are not just an important part of your vehicle but expensive too. The fundamental purpose of the converter is to convert toxic exhaust gases into non-toxic gases like nitrogen, carbon dioxide, and water.

The catalytic converter has a catalyst inside it. A catalyst is an unreactive metal that reacts with those harmful gases and makes them into non-harmful gases. Further, a catalyst remains unchanged at the end of a reaction. Therefore, you do not need to replace it.

A catalyst can be an expensive metal like Rhodium, platinum, palladium, and much more. However, it depends on the car manufacturer if they include precious or less precious metal inside the converter as a catalyst. Expensive car manufacturers like Ferrari puts gold inside the catalytic converter to act as a catalyst.

Furthermore, nowadays it is illegal to drive without a catalytic converter. Therefore, the catalytic converter ensures that your vehicle passes the Vehicle Emission Test.

The replacement cost of a catalytic converter is high due to the expensive metal inside it. You should expect to spend a minimum of 1,000 bucks for a catalytic converter. Therefore, it is always good to know how to fix a catalytic converter without replacing it.

However, how will you know your catalytic converter is facing problems? We will discuss them now.


Problem Diagnostic Process

Faulty parts will always show symptoms that there are faults inside that particular part. The catalytic converter is no exception to that. Naturally, the converter will show issues over time. There are several reasons for this such as being dirty or clogged.

You should know the difference between the need for cleaning or replacing your catalytic converter. Below, we have listed the symptoms that show you need to replace your catalytic converter.


  1. Knocking Sound

You should always remain vigilant about what kind of sound your vehicle is making. Further, a sound might indicate a lot about your vehicle’s internal problems. One of the sounds is catalytic converter rattling.

The rattling sound comes from inside of the converter. Further, the catalytic converter has metals inside. Those metals might get broken which will make a rattling sound.


  1. Change Of Catalytic Converter Color

A faulty catalytic converter might show a shift in color or appearance. Your vehicle’s catalytic converter will shift its color if it has any internal leaks. Moreover, overheating also changes the color of the converter.


  1. Pungent Smell Of Sulfur

The catalytic converter might produce a pungent sulfur smell. However, this does not guarantee the replacement of the converter. Further, this might also mean that the catalytic converter needs to be cleaned.

Sulfur smell indicates that the catalytic converter is failing to convert the harmful gases into less harmful ones. The smell has similarities with that of rotten eggs. Further, it is most noticeable from the exhaust system.

A catalytic converter converts hydrogen sulfide into sulfur dioxide. However, it cannot convert with a failing catalytic converter, resulting in that smell.

You might also see black smoke out of your vehicle.


The Possibility Of Cleaning Catalytic Converter

We have listed some symptoms that will show if your catalytic converter needs to be replaced. However, you might not see those symptoms. If so, then you are on your luck. How can you know that your catalytic converter needs cleaning? Further, you should also know how to fix catalytic converter without replacing it.

  1. Degradation In-Vehicle Performance

The catalytic converter is connected with the exhaust pipe. Further, the catalytic converter might become clogged during daily usage. This will try to prevent the normal exhaust gas flow out of the exhaust pipe. As your car’s engine will fail to release exhaust gas fast, the performance of the vehicle will decrease dramatically.

  1. Poor Gas Economy

A clogged catalytic converter reduces the efficiency of the engine. Your engine will need to produce more power in order to exit the same amount of gas. Further, the fuel-to-air ratio decreases, which is also a factor in the poor gas economy.

The poor airflow also impacts the combustion reaction of the vehicle in the combustion chamber. All of them combine together to impact the gas economy of the vehicle. This sign means you need to know how to fix catalytic converter without replacing.

  1. Slow Acceleration Or Lagging Start

Poor acceleration and lagging start clearly indicate that the catalytic converter is clogged. Further, the clogs in the catalytic converter halt exhaust gases from exiting the exhaust system. This impacts the acceleration and lags start of the vehicle.

  1. Look For Engine Light

Engine lights are often ignored by vehicle owners. They are scared of engine lights as they feel it is an indication of huge vehicle repair costs. However, you should be careful with engine lights and deal with them seriously. A minor issue might become a major one with time. Further, engine light is the initial indication that your catalytic converter needs servicing.

You can use a scanner to diagnose your engine problem. Further, you can use the OBD2 scanner to find the problem. This tool displays the error code to the specific problem of your vehicle.

These devices are very cheap to purchase and will cost around $50. This is the perfect way to know what kinds of problems your vehicle is suffering.


How To Fix Catalytic Converter Without Replacing

You can easily fix your vehicle’s catalytic converter without the need of replacing it or having a hassle. Further, below we have given some ways to fix the converter without shredding tons of bucks on it.

However, you can only know how to fix a catalytic converter without replacing it if your converter doesn’t rattle, show discoloration warps, or emits a bleachy sulfur aroma.

Note that it might not be possible to fix the converter. However, the fixing steps without the replacement process are given below.


  1. Make Use Of Fuel Additives

You should use fuel additives once in a while to increase the performance of your vehicle’s engine. Further, the fuel additive also enhances the catalytic converter by cleaning it. This becomes essential for people who use gasoline instead of premium fuel.

However, you can also use high octane fuel to enhance the performance of your vehicle. The cheap gasoline might also be the reason for the decrease in vehicle performance.

Furthermore, you can make use of lacquer thinner. Pour a full gallon of lacquer thinner into a half-filled gas tank. After that take your vehicle for a long drive at high speeds for about 150 miles.

Moreover, you can also drive the vehicle at around 2500 rpm for an hour or so. Through this, you can get rid of all the dirt inside the catalytic converter and the converter will be cleaned at the end of the action.  It is one of the efficient way to know how to fix catalytic converter without replacing.


  1. Clean Your Catalytic Converter By Washing

Your catalytic converter can also be washed. However, you need to disassemble the catalytic converter first. The disassembling process might sound scary but you can easily take it off through an amateur experience.

Further, you just need to disassemble the converter from the car and pressure wash the converter. This will clean all the junk inside and outside the converter. Note that you need to clean both the front side and the backside of the converter.

You might desire to clean the converter more deeply. For that, drown the converter in a detergent solution. Make sure you are using a very strong grease cleaning detergent. Otherwise, the converter will not be cleaned properly.

After cleaning, dry the converter and reassemble it in your vehicle.


  1. Make a Hard Driving

The hard-driving method is a remarkable method of fixing catalytic converters without replacing them. Further, it also solves most of the basic problems of your vehicle. However, you should have a clear concept of how a catalytic converter works in order to have idea about this mechanism.

Catalytic converters need an optimum temperature to work as intended. This is sometimes made possible by pushing the vehicle hard.

The efficient temperature of a catalytic converter to work is around 1,800 degrees. However, the problem is most of the drivers drive their vehicles slow and do not push to the limit. Therefore, the converter fails to reach the optimum temperature. Either they drive a short distance or pick up their children from school.

Further, this kind of driving is harmful to the converter and kills the converter faster than expected. Therefore, we recommend you push the vehicle hard sometimes. Moreover, try to run your vehicle at highroads at higher speeds.

The action heats the catalytic converter fast and burns all the clogged substances blocking the converter. It also cleans the intake sensors, oxygen sensors, and the head of the cylinder. However, you should make sure that you are driving fast on a safe road.


Fix The Reasons For Damage

You should fix the reason for which the catalytic converter failed in your vehicle. You should know that a catalytic converter is made to last the lifespan of your vehicle which is around 100,000 miles. Therefore, you can think that a failure is uncommon. There are some reasons why your catalytic converter failed unexpectedly.

Further, you should fix those problems in order to prevent them from damaging again. This will not only prevent the converter from dying fast, but it will also save you tons of bucks. Below, we have given the cause of converter failure.

  • Clogged Converter due to too much oil.
  • Too much heat generation from inside of the converter.

Now you know how to fix catalytic converter without replacing it. Further, you also know the causes of such failures. So, should you fix or replace your catalytic converter?



The replacement cost of a catalytic converter is huge. This is due to the expensive metal inside the converter which raises the price. Most of the catalytic converter costs from around $1000 to $2000. However, the price might vary depending on the vehicle and brand.

Therefore, we recommend you look for how to fix catalytic converter without replacing it. This is the safest bet to save your money. However, if things don’t help without replacement steps, you have to replace the converter.

By now, you know some of the ways to identify if your vehicle’s catalytic converter needs replacement or not. However, you are on your luck if no replacement is needed and things can be fixed through washing or cleaning.

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