Is It Okay To Drill Holes In My Catalytic Converter? What Causes It To Fail, And Ways To Unclog It

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Drilling holes in a catalytic converter is not okay. It is a better decision to have your catalytic converter completely removed and replaced by an aftermarket exhaust system. Once a catalytic converter has holes drilled into it, it is less likely for your car to pass emission tests. Drilling a hole in your catalytic converter is only suitable as a short term solution before replacing it. 

Nonetheless, if you decide to drill, let it be done by a professional. This prevents damage to the catalytic converter, ensuring it serves you well in the short run as you plan to replace it. 

Is It Okay To Drill Holes In My Catalytic Converter

What Happens If I Drill A Hole In My Catalytic Converter?

If you drill holes in a catalytic converter, the exhaust fumes that are to be safely reduced or oxidized inside it may leak and get into the car while in toxic forms. For example, carbon monoxide, which should be oxidized to carbon dioxide, may get into the car and kill once inhaled. Note that carbon monoxide is produced by cars that run on gasoline engines. 

Also, toxic hydrocarbons may be released into the environment, causing respiratory distress among those exposed to the fumes. Black soot may also be observed on leakage of fumes, which creates an ugly view and poisons the rain. 

What Are The Signs Of A Failing Catalytic Converter?

The signs of a failing catalytic converter include:

Sluggish Engine Performance

The car’s engine loses its enthusiasm and slows down, completely losing its power. This happens due to foreign materials’ invasion due to breakage or wearing off the catalytic converter. 

Reduced Acceleration

The car loses its initial speed and momentum on the road, even on full gas. The car tends to move slower, defying the purpose of saving time. This happens due to the engine developing mechanical issues. Air pressure from the catalytic converter may be one of the explanations for this issue.

Dark Exhaust Smoke Emission With A Smell Of Sulphur 

The black smoke and smell of rotten eggs are brought about by the failure to reduce or oxidize the hydrocarbons produced fully. The catalytic converter’s number one function is to make the hydrocarbons safe for release into the environment. Once it is damaged, it cannot perform this duty effectively hence the release of unburnt hydrocarbons and toxic fumes.

Excessive Heat Under The Car

Unburnt fuels may enter into the catalytic converter and ignite, causing excess heat. This heat may meltdown the ceramic parts of the catalytic converter causing more damage. The heat may also increase back pressure in the honeycomb catalyst, causing pressure in the engine and other related components. 

What Are The Signs Of A Clogged Catalytic Converter?

Your catalytic converter may be clogged if you notice the following:

1. Illuminated malfunction of the indicator lamp

2. Difficulty starting engine and stalling once it is already started

3. Poor fuel economy and engine performance 

4. Failure in emission tests

What Destroys A Catalytic Converter?

The following can destroy your car’s catalytic converter:

Failure To Take Your Engine For Service

If your car’s engine overstays without being serviced, components related to it may get damaged or clogged. The engine will transfer its unsolved issues to the catalytic converter since they are connected. This may result in a lot of backpressure or excess heat in the converter causing it to wear out.

Oil Or Antifreeze Entering The Exhaust System

Once oil or antifreeze enters the catalytic converter they create thick carbon and black soot coats in the ceramic honeycomb catalyst. These coats reduce the space initially available for catalytic processes making the hydrocarbons have less space to burn up. This, in turn, increases backpressure, which causes leakage of heat and exhaust fumes into the car engine.

Faulty Oxygen Sensor

The oxygen sensor gives incorrect exhaust gas readings leading to improper fuel mixture conditions. This mistake results in the air in the catalytic converter being too cold to burn hydrocarbons into safe emissions or too hot. It melts the ceramic parts of the catalytic converter. If this occurs, unsafe fumes are released into the environment, and the catalytic converter is destroyed. 

Unburnt Fuels Entering The Exhaust System

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Once unburnt fuels enter the catalytic converter, they may ignite due to the hot air inside. On ignition, the fuels may meltdown the ceramic parts of the catalytic converter. Once these parts of the catalytic converter are destroyed, the car may now experience improper fuel mixture, incorrect timing, bad spark plugs, malfunctioning oxygen sensor, sticking float, faulty check valve and many others. This means all the named issues and malfunctions can point out to the catalytic converter’s bad state. 

Catalytic Converter Hitting The Road

Once the catalytic converter structure is destroyed, it may hang lower than usual under the car, hence hitting the road. The noise created on contact between the catalytic converter and the road should alert you to have it checked. If the catalytic converter is made of very strong material, it may drag and cause damage to the road, especially if it goes unnoticed over a long time.

Short Road Trips

If the car only travels over short distances, it may not get enough air to burn hydrocarbons hence leaving them for a long time in the catalytic converter. This results in the clogging and blocking of the catalytic converter. The car should run for at least half an hour to completely burn the hydrocarbons produced and release them as safe gases into the environment. 

Can I Unclog My Catalytic Converter?

It is possible to unclog your catalytic converter by yourself. An OBD scanner is used to scan the condition of the catalytic converter, and once it has proved that it is clogged, the following steps are followed to unclog it: 

Step 1: Fuel Your Car To A Minimum Of 15 Liters 

The amount of fuel may vary from one car brand to the other. Hence, you should know what amounts the best suit his car brand and model.

Step 2: Pour The Cleaner Into The Gas Tank 

Look out for specified amounts on the cleaner’s can depending on the type of car and pour it into the gas tank.

Step3: Replace The Gas Cap 

You should replace the gas cap and drive around non-stop for a minimum of 30 mins. This allows for the complete burning of hydrocarbons produced. 

Step 4: Get Your OBD Scanner And Clear The OBD Code

Clear the OBD code using the scanner and give it time to calibrate before taking a new reading of the catalytic converter. The good reading indicates that the catalytic converter is now unclogged successfully. 

This process works for cleaning the catalytic converter without removing it from the car and without a professional’s help as it is simple and very effective. 

Can I Clean My Catalytic Converter With Water?

A catalytic converter can be cleaned locally by use of water and a degreaser solution following the steps: 

Step 1: Soak It In Hot Water Containing Degreaser Solution

Once you remove the vehicle’s catalytic converter, soak it in hot water containing a reasonable amount of the degreaser solution for a maximum of one hour. The warm water and degreaser completely melt all the fuels inside it and washes out all other gathered types of dirt. 

Step 2: Rinse It With The Pressure Washer 

Set the pressure washer at low pressure and rinse your car’s catalytic converter to remove the tiniest of particles. This also helps to drain the component faster so that it takes less time to get it dry. 

Step 3:  Allow It To Dry Well

Let the catalytic converter sit for a while as it drains to ensure it is completely dry. Once it is dry, you can fix it back to your car while also fixing the oxygen sensor. 

The above steps of cleaning the catalytic converter only apply where you can safely remove the catalytic converter and fix it back without any issue. It is also effective if the dirt on the catalytic converter has not caused further damage, especially to the engine and other related components. You must also ensure it is completely dry before installing it back since water could cause more damage if left inside.

Can A Car Run Without A Catalytic Converter?

The sole purpose of a catalytic converter is to clean the emissions and make them safe for release into the environment. Therefore a car can run efficiently without a catalytic converter. However, since 1993, all cars must have a catalytic converter to stop further damage to the ozone layer. 

The ozone layer has been in danger of destruction due to the emission of toxic gases that destroy it. In most places, it is a traffic offense to drive a car without the component. Besides, it is a big risk to drive a car without one since some gases emitted are very toxic and can kill or cause other respiratory complications if you inhale them.

Final Word 

The catalytic converter is a vital car component for human safety as well as environmental protection. Its sole purpose being detoxifying toxic emissions into safe gases before releasing them into the atmosphere. Its connection with the engine makes it very sensitive since it is the most important part of a vehicle. 

Nonetheless, maintenance of catalytic converter is easy to carry out as it does not always require a professional’s involvement. The major issue in catalyst converter is clogging; however, it is easy to deal with, leaving the component clean and efficient to serve its purpose. Note that it is not okay to drill holes in a catalytic converter unless, as a temporary solution as you seek to replace it.   

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