Catalytic converter cleaners are chemicals designed to remove deposits from catalytic converters. These deposits can build up over time due to the combustion of fuel and can eventually lead to the failure of the catalytic converter.
Catalytic Converter Cleaners
How do Catalytic Converter Cleaners Work?
Catalytic converter cleaners break down the deposits built on the catalytic converter. This uses various chemicals, including solvents, acids, and bases. The specific chemicals used will vary depending on the type of catalytic converter cleaner.
Are Catalytic Converter Cleaners Effective?
The effectiveness of catalytic converter cleaners depends on several factors, including the severity of the deposits, the type of catalytic converter, and the type of catalytic converter cleaner used. In general, catalytic converter cleaners can effectively remove light to moderate deposits. However, they may not be effective in eliminating severe deposits.
What Are The Risks of Using Catalytic Converter Cleaners?
There are a few risks associated with using catalytic converter cleaners. These risks include:
- Damage to the catalytic converter. If the catalytic converter cleaner is not used properly, it can damage the catalytic converter. This can worsen the problem and require the catalytic converter to be replaced.
- Harm to the environment. Some catalytic converter cleaners can be harmful to the environment. Make sure to follow the instructions on the product label carefully.
- Health risks. Some catalytic converter cleaners can be detrimental to your health. Make sure to wear gloves and eye protection when using these products.
How To Choose a Catalytic Converter Cleaner
What Factors Should You Consider When Choosing A Cleaner?
Effectiveness – The active ingredients in the cleaner formula play a big role in its ability to break down and dissolve deposits and residue inside the catalytic converter. Look for cleaners containing cerium, platinum, or rhodium compounds specifically designed for use in converters. They can help restore performance by removing contaminants.
Compatibility – Using a safe cleaner for your vehicle’s specific catalytic converter and oxygen sensors is crucial. Using the wrong product can damage the catalyst coating or sensor operation. Always consult your owner’s manual to see what cleaners are recommended or allowed.
Frequency of Use – Some cleaner products are intended for periodic use (every 3,000 miles etc.) to maintain light buildup in the converter. Other heavy-duty formulas make claims about removing severe clogging and restoring lost performance. Choose based on your converter’s condition.
Reviews – Checking product reviews online can reveal real-world customer experience with a particular catalytic converter cleaner brand and formula. Look for ones that consistently get high marks for improving performance and MPG in vehicles with contaminated converters.
What Are Some Of The Best Catalytic Converter Cleaners On The Market?
CRC Catalytic Converter Cleaner
- It uses cerium oxide to help break down deposits and restore efficiency. It also cleans oxygen sensors and EGR valves.
Wynns Catalytic Converter Cleaner
- Utilizes a platinum formula to remove contaminants inside the converter. It also helps eliminate sulfur odors.
3M Platinum Plus Catalytic Converter Cleaner
- It contains platinum and rhodium ingredients to dissolve deposits. They were designed to be used regularly to maintain the converter.
Red Line Complete Fuel System Cleaner
- Cleans the entire fuel system, including the catalytic converter. It uses polyether amine detergents to remove buildup.
These top-selling converter cleaner products are available at most auto parts stores. The platinum and cerium-based formulas are designed to penetrate and break down stubborn deposits that can clog converters over time.
Cost of Catalytic Converter Cleaners
- Prices typically range from about $10 to $30 per bottle. This depends on the cleaner’s brand, active ingredients, and volume.
- Most catalytic converter cleaners come in 12 to 16-ounce bottles, which is enough for one treatment. Larger volume bottles are available for repeated treatments.
- Well-known brands like CRC and 3M tend to be at the higher end of the price range, usually $20 and up per 12 oz bottle.
- Generic or lesser-known brands can sometimes be found for $10-$15 per 12 oz bottle at discount retailers. However effectiveness may need to be improved.
- Buying cleaners in bulk quantities (e.g., 4 or 6 packs of 12 oz bottles) can bring down the per-bottle cost when purchased at warehouse retailers.
- Shopping around at auto parts stores, mass retailers, and online sites helps compare prices for the best deal on a particular brand and formula.
- Coupons and sales can also reduce the cost. Signing up for retailer loyalty programs can provide exclusive discounts.
Are Catalytic Converter Cleaners Safe to Use?
Potential Risks of Using a Catalytic Converter
- Excessive use can damage the catalyst coating inside the converter, leading to premature failure.
- The cleaning agents may dislodge and collect downstream, contaminating oxygen sensors and affecting performance.
- Harsh chemicals can react with and erode the substrates inside the converter.
- Improper cleaning methods, By pouring cleaner into the exhaust pipe, You can damage components.
Benefits of Using a Catalytic Converter Cleaner
- It helps remove light deposits and maintain optimal airflow when used periodically.
- It may help minimize buildup from oil burning or fuel residues.
- It can restore lost power and fuel economy in mildly contaminated converters.
When to Use Cleaner
- Only use cleaners specifically designed for catalytic converters based on manufacturer guidance.
- Cleaners are mainly intended for preventative maintenance if engine performance is normal.
- For severely clogged converters, professional cleaning or replacement is generally required.
The bottom line is catalytic converter cleaners can offer benefits when used properly at the recommended intervals. However, they are only a fix for some converter problems and come with risks if misused. Follow usage directions carefully.
How to Use Catalytic Converter Cleaners Safely?
Safety Precautions For Using Cleaners
- Review your owner’s manual to confirm the cleaner is safe for your vehicle.
- Wear protective gloves and eyewear when handling the cleaner. The chemicals can irritate the skin and eyes.
- When adding the cleanser to your fuel tank, work in a well-ventilated area away from sparks or flames.
- Use the exact amount recommended by the cleaner’s instructions. More is not better.
- Never pour the cleaner directly into the exhaust system or engine. Only add it to the fuel tank.
Common Mistakes While Using Cleaners
- Using a generic cleaner that is not explicitly designed for catalytic converters.
- Overusing the cleaner or treating it more frequently than the instructions state.
- Continuing to use cleaners when experiencing drivability problems or checking engine lights.
- Not allowing enough drive time for the cleaner to circulate through the fuel system after adding to the tank.
- Mixing incompatible cleaners that may contain conflicting chemicals.
Troubleshooting Catalytic Converter Problems
Here are some tips for troubleshooting catalytic converter problems if cleaners are not effective:
If The Catalytic Converter Cleaner Does Not Restore Performance
- The cleaner may not be fully dissolving more severe deposits and contamination. Multiple treatments may help, but results are not guaranteed.
- Mechanical problems like ignition misfires, fuel system issues, or exhaust leaks can complicate matters beyond just deposits in the converter. These problems should be diagnosed.
- If cleaners provide no benefits, a severely clogged or internally damaged converter may need professional cleaning or replacement.
Other Solutions Beyond Cleaners
- Have the engine scanned for diagnostic trouble codes to pinpoint performance issues.
- Perform a visual inspection of the converter and exhaust system to check for external damage.
- Consider professional ultrasonic cleaning services that use high-frequency sound waves to dislodge contaminants.
- As a last resort, replacing a failed catalytic converter will be required to bring emissions back into compliance.
- For P0420/P0430 efficiency codes, ensure all engine maintenance is current before replacing the converter.
Conclusion On Catalytic Converter Cleaners
In summary, catalytic converter cleaners can be a useful maintenance tool when used correctly and safely. They are designed to break down deposits inside the converter to maintain optimal airflow and efficiency. However, cleaners have limited ability to remedy severe clogging or internal damage.