Guide on How to Clean your Catalytic Converter

Catalytic converters are also called ‘cats’ for short by automotive enthusiasts. It is one of the most important parts of the exhaust system of cars. The catalytic converter is placed near the engine. Its main task is to break down the pollution from the end of the tailpipe. 

A catalytic converter is a device that acts as an exhaust emission control in a car. Its purpose is to reduce toxic gases and pollutants.  It uses catalysts that convert harmful compounds to become harmless compounds.  To simplify, the catalytic converter is a metal box that cleans emissions coming from the back of the car. 

But of course, there is a science behind this and how this works.  It’s not as simple as it sounds! 

What are the harmful compounds that the catalytic converter breaks?  The harmful compounds are hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, and nitrogen oxides. Hydrocarbons are in the form of unburned gasoline. Hydrocarbons produce smog. Carbon monoxide, on the other hand, is formed by gasoline combustion. Carbon monoxide is poisonous. Lastly, nitrogen oxides are created when the heat engine forces air nitrogen to combine with oxygen.  These nitrogen oxides lead to smog and acid rain. 

What is the use of a catalytic converter? 

The catalyst, in the forms of platinum and palladium, is coated onto a ceramic honeycomb and beads.  These are placed in a package that is then attached to an exhaust pipe. 

The purpose of the catalyst is to convert carbon monoxide into carbon dioxide.  The catalyst also converts the hydrocarbons into both water and carbon dioxide.  Lastly, it also converts the nitrogen oxides back into the form of nitrogen and oxygen. 

How do you clean the catalytic converter? 

Sometimes, the parts inside the catalytic converter loosen. Loose parts can clog your exhaust pipe. This is dangerous. Because if it clogs, this will cause your car to stop while you drive!  

If there are loose parts inside, you have to remove the catalytic converter and replace it. But how do you know if the parts inside are loose? Take a hammer and hit your catalytic converter very carefully.  If you hear some loose parts inside, that’s the time you remove the catalytic converter. After taking it out, carefully inspect it. 

The catalytic converter can also get clogged. In this case, the engine will not run. This means you have to remove the catalytic converter too. You can use special tools or opt to replace it. 

Other than these, there is also a situation wherein the parts inside can be blown away from the exhaust pipe. If you suspect this, physically remove the catalytic converter and inspect. 

Oil can also cause clogging of the catalytic converter. What happens in this situation is that the oil enters the cylinders. The oil then gets combusted and burned inside because of the hot catalytic converter. When this happens, have your technician repair the internal oil leak first. 

If all the parts inside are good and not loose, you can clean the catalytic converter without removing it. So how do you do this? 

You can use an OXICAT – Oxygen Sensor & Catalytic Converter Cleaner. Tap this inside the fuel tank. This product cleans the catalytic converter. It’s also good for cleaning the O2 sensors, along with the entire exhaust system.  

The OXICAT is not made to repair the mechanical faults of a catalytic converter. It cannot solve cracks or clogs inside. It is only a cleaner. Thus, double-check first that your catalytic converter doesn’t have problems before using OXICAT. 

When you pour in the cleaner into the fuel tank, make sure you follow the required amount as stated in the manual. Ensure that you pour in the right amount based on your car type and engine. It can cause more damages if you pour in more than the needed amount. So be very careful!

Now, do a test drive!  See if your car runs or performs better than before. You can hit over a high RPM in a long drive to make your catalytic converter burn the clogs inside if any. 

Just a caution on this. Make sure there is no oil or other fluid inside the catalytic converter. Otherwise, this could ignite it! Furthermore, double-check that you have enough coolant to avoid overheating. 

If the OXICAT cleaner did not work, that’s the time you have to remove the catalytic converter. Inspect it closely to see if there are other problems.  You can also clean the catalytic converter with water and lacquer thinner.  


Before cleaning your catalytic converter, inspect that there are no loose parts inside. If all is clear and you don’t hear any loose parts inside, then put in an OXICAT cleaner. Remember that the cleaner cannot repair any cracks or clogs. If the cleaner does not work, remove the catalytic converter to check. Water and lacquer thinner can also work in cleaning the catalytic converter. 

The thing is, you don’t need to spend too much of your time on the internet to look for possible processes on cleaning your catalytic converter. Also, some information online is broad and will only make you confused about what to do next. So, it is better if you go to the experts in this industry.

If you need more information on anything related to automotive, visit The Automotive Men website. We aim to provide useful product reviews and blogs that can be helpful in finding the best way to clean your catalytic converter or to find solutions to other automotive issues you may have. You can always contact us on our website or other social media channels.

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