An important element of a car’s exhaust system is a catalyst (catalytic converter). Its task is to reduce the number of harmful combustion elements emitted into the atmosphere.
The average resource of the catalyst is about 100-150 thousand kilometers. It can run flawlessly longer or less, depending on the quality of the engine, the fuel used and a host of other factors. A clogged catalytic converter must be replaced or attempted to be cleaned. If the catalyst is cleaned correctly, it will be able to work for some time before replacing it.
Symptoms of catalyst contamination
An experienced driver is unlikely to miss the moment when the exhaust system catalyst will no longer cope with its functions. There are a number of signs that indicate contamination:
- Decrease in engine power when the car is moving, slow set of speed;
- Problems with starting the engine;
- Unstable idling;
- A spontaneous shutdown of the motor;
- Increased fuel consumption;
- Check Engine light.
Also, if the catalyst is heavily contaminated, the driver may notice that the color of the exhaust has changed. You can check the catalyst for contamination by various methods, but it is most effective to remove it and inspect it visually. If the catalyst “honeycomb” contains resin fragments, combustion products, oil and other “debris” that interferes with the passage of exhaust gases, it must be eliminated as much as possible.
No matter what mileage problems with the catalytic converter of exhaust gases begin, you should not rush to throw it away. Sometimes, catalyst malfunctions are eliminated by trivial cleaning.
How to clean the catalyst
There are several ways to clean the catalyst yourself. Depending on how dirty the catalyst is, it is advisable to choose one or another method of cleaning it.
Cleaning the catalyst with separate paper
If the combustion products are not strong and not massively “stuck” to the catalyst filter element, you can remove them using ordinary sandpaper. It is quite simple to do this:
- You will need to take fine-grained sandpaper and remove the catalyst;
- Then, carefully, not pressing hard on the “honeycomb”, you need to clean off the plaque in a circular motion;
- When the filter element is cleaned, the remaining dirt is blown out using compressed air.
Important: In the process of cleaning the catalyst with sandpaper, do not overdo it with pressing force. Most often, the “honeycomb” of the catalytic converter is made of ceramic. If you press on them too hard, they risk breaking, and you will need to buy a new catalyst.
Cleaning strong contaminations of the catalyst with chemicals
If the catalyst is heavily contaminated, you can use “chemistry” to clean it. You can Google for the best catalytic converter cleaner or visit the nearest in-car store and find special products for flushing and regenerating the catalyst. If it is not possible to purchase such a tool, carburettor fluid or ethanol will cope with the task of cleaning the filter element.
The catalyst should be cleaned with special chemicals in accordance with the instructions. If carburettor fluid is used, the cleaning process is as follows:
- It is necessary to take a plastic container, a bucket is suitable, in which the catalyst can be vertically located;
- The catalyst is then removed from the vehicle and inspected for damage. If they are absent, you can start cleaning, otherwise, you will have to think about replacing the filter element;
- The catalyst “honeycomb” is abundantly watered with carburettor cleaner, after which the part is wrapped in rags and placed in a plastic container;
- After 20-30 minutes, it is necessary to rinse the “honeycomb” of the catalyst under the pressure of hot water.
- Do not perform this procedure in a home bathroom, as the chemicals used in carburettor cleaners can corrode bathroom enamel, sinks and damage other interior items;
- After rinsing the catalyst with water, dry the part and blow it out with compressed air;
- Then repeat the procedure from the beginning.
If the catalyst is critically contaminated, two cleanings may not be enough. In such a situation, it is recommended to use more powerful cleaning agents (eg kerosene).
In particularly difficult cases, experienced drivers recommend soaking the catalyst in kerosene or diesel fuel overnight, and then doing the above procedures. However, the most effective way to keep the catalyst healthy is to service the car and its heart – the engine – on time.
How not to clean the catalyst
Often, in order to save money and time, drivers abandon the idea of cleaning and replacing the catalyst, punching new holes in it or drilling them. Such a solution will allow the engine power to be returned, but the car will have violated the indicators of harmful emissions into the atmosphere. In addition, the noise level from the exhaust pipe, which occurs when the vehicle is moving, will increase. Such methods of “cleaning” the catalyst are unacceptable, and during a long operation of the engine with a damaged filter element, various problems may arise with it.