How to Clean A Catalytic Converter {Plus the Top 13 Cleaners of 2019}

How to Clean A Catalytic Converter {Plus the Top 13 Cleaners of 2019}

The catalytic converters in our vehicles do an excellent job of cleaning up the gaseous emissions made by our cars, making them less harmful to the environment. They do this by creating a redox reaction that oxidizes some of the more harmful gases, such as carbon monoxide (CO) and nitrogen (NOx). This renders them into neutral, non-harmful compounds such as carbon dioxide (CO2 ) and water (H2O).

Needless to say, this means these converters work pretty hard and need a thorough cleaning as part of your standard maintenance routine to keep them running at maximum capacity. But how do you actually clean them? The majority of people go through life without ever knowing that their such a thing exists, let alone taking the time to clean it. There are a lot of catalytic converter cleaners available, but do they really do everything they advertise? Like everything in life, some do a better job than others.

In this post, we’ll discuss the steps you need to take to clean your cat. We have also narrowed down the list to the 13 best cleaners available.

 

Here are the Top 3 Catalytic Converter Cleaners of 2019

See below for our full list of the top 13!

 

Product

Volume

Gas or Diesel

Rating

Current Price

Chevron Techron Concentrate Plus Fuel System Cleaner

20 Oz.

Gas

4.5 / 977 reviews

Check Price

Lucas LUC10013 10013 Fuel Treatment

1 Gal.

Both

4.5 / 954 reviews

Check Price

BG 44K Fuel System Cleaner Power Enhancer

11 Oz.

Gas

4.5 / 844 reviews

Check Price

Lucky Number 13: The Catalytic Converter Cleaners for 2019

When we ranked the cleaners on this list we did so based on three primary aspects:

  1. Price
  2. Effectiveness
  3. Ease of Use

For this reason, you’re going to see that all-in-one fuel system cleaners have been mixed with dedicated catalytic converter cleaners. Which one works best for you depends on your driving habits. If all you really do is commute to work and take the occasional road trip, the all-in-one brands will work just fine. If you travel frequently or like to fine-tune each component of your machine for maximum performance, then a dedicated cat converter cleaner is your best bet.


1.
Chevron Techron Concentrate Plus Fuel System Cleaner

This is an all-around cleaner and one of the top options on this list. It comes in at a surprisingly low price, considering how popular it is. It works by removing hydrocarbon emissions from the entire fuel system.

This will help to reduce emissions, improve fuel efficiency, clean fuel sensors, and improve performance. Use it every 3,000 miles, or when you do an oil change, for maximum efficiency in your car’s system.

techron fuel system cleaner

2. Lucas LUC10013 10013 Fuel Treatment

This is one of the oldest options on this list but still one of the best. This is another all-in-one solution that cleans and optimizes the entire fuel system from engine to exhaust. Unlike many cleaners on the market, it works well in both diesel and gas-powered engines and will work in either carburetor or fuel injection vehicles.

While this solution works perfectly fine as a cleaner, its main purpose is to improve the efficiency of your fuel system. It burns off excessive exhaust emissions, giving you better fuel economy.

It also eliminates problems caused by low sulfur fuel.

3. BG 44K Fuel System Cleaner Power Enhancer

BG is one of the newcomers to grace this list, with their 44K Fuel System first hitting the market in 2013. The new kids on the block clearly know what they’re doing, though, because the 44K cleaner is a resounding success.

In addition to improving your gas mileage and overall performance, this solution is perfect for reducing the buildup of harmful carbons that cause emissions problems. It also distinguishes itself as a fuel system conditioner, which will reduce the unpleasant smells that spring up in dirty fuel lines.

44k fuel system cleaner

4. Red Line (60103) Complete SI-1 Fuel System Cleaner

This is a product that will clean up your entire fuel system and help to remove residue that can cause higher than normal gaseous emissions. It is a very effective and concentrated cleanser. If your system has been neglected, a full bottle should be poured into a half a tank of gas.

You should start seeing results from the first use onwards, but the best results will be if you run it through the system at least twice a year. If your car is used a lot, increase that to quarterly.

5. Royal Purple Max-Clean Fuel System Cleaner and Stabilizerroyal purple max clean

This is another superstar when it comes to cleaning your entire fuel system. It reduces CO, NOx and Hydrocarbon emissions incredibly well. It will also help to improve fuel efficiency by anywhere from 3 to 4% and help your engine generate over 2% more horsepower.

If your car has been running sluggishly, or you notice that the exhaust fumes are smelling really bad, it could be time to get a bottle. Price-wise, it falls into the middle range.

 

6. Gumout 510011 Multi-System Tune-Up

This is the first option we’re featuring that can optimize not only your converter and fuel system, but your oil as well. One thing that stands out about Gumout is that they use PEA (polyetheramine) as the main compound to clean and lubricate your machine while reducing harmful emissions.

Other products suggest that you add some cleaner every time you fill up. With Gumout, you only need to add more when you’ve run through an entire tank to get great results. It’s suitable for both diesel and gasoline engines and works in motorcycles, watercraft, gas-powered tools, and lawn mowers as well.

7. Cataclean 473ml Engine and Catalytic Converter Cleaning Treatment

Testing shows that this option can reduce hydrocarbon gas emissions by as much as 50%. The mixture will also help to clean up your car’s fuel injectors and oxygen sensor. It is effective at removing grime that has built up in the system over a period of time.

How effective the treatment will be is going to depend on what is wrong with your vehicle and how much dirt there is. You may need to apply a second treatment a few weeks after the first if your vehicle has been neglected for a while. If you use your vehicle in a high-dirt environment, like when you go over-roading, the company recommends using this cat cleaner quarterly. It is an excellent product but it is also a more expensive option.

8. Hi-Gear HG3270s EZ Emissions Pass & Catalytic Converter Cleaner

This is a high-grade option that will not only clean any residue from the converter but also helps to clean up the whole fuel system, including the pistons, injectors and combustion chambers. It is highly effective at cleaning off hydrocarbon residue and other less than pleasant substances.
If there is a sulfur smell coming from your car’s tailpipe, it means that it is time to get some cleaning done. This is one of the most popular options and works really well. It helps reduce gaseous emissions while at the same time cleaning up the rest of the fuel system as well.

9. CRC 05063 Guaranteed To Pass Emissions Test Formula

At first glance, you might be tempted to pass on CRC because it looks like a knock-off brand. You’d be making a mistake! This is one of the best products you can get for reducing your emissions output. If you use every 3,000 miles, as recommended, this all-in-one formula can help you pass an emissions test, improve your MPG rating, and keep your fuel system running at peak performance.

emissions system cleaner

 

10. Solder-It CAT-1 Catalytic Converter Cleaner

This cat cleaner is good for getting results fast. One bottle is all that you need to get the action started. Add it to the gas tank and then carry on using your vehicle as normal. You should start seeing an improvement once it has worked its way through the fuel system.

This is suitable for both pelletized and monolithic cat converters. If you need to stretch the time between tune-ups as much as possible, this will help you do that. It isn’t the cheapest option out there, but it can help save you when it comes to maintenance costs.

11. Marvel Mystery Oil 50735 Classic & Ultimate Fuel & Motor Treatment

The formula used to create this wonder solution may be a mystery, but the results certainly aren’t. This powerful lubricant was designed to help you get the best performance possible from your engine and fuel system. By and large, that’s exactly what it does!

Not only is Mystery Oil good for removing current buildups of gunk, but it’s also excellent for preventing further build-up and rusting. It’s also designed for use in both diesel and ethanol vehicles. Plus, it has a remarkably low price considering all that it does.

12. OXICAT – Oxygen Sensor & Catalytic Converter Cleaner

Made in Germany, this is a good option for you if you need to reduce emissions to pass a test. Its formulation is unique in that it will help to clean out your whole fuel system. It uses decarbonizing tech to remove carbon deposits and soot.

You should see results from your first use. The company recommends using it quarterly to help keep your system clean and improve system performance and fuel efficiency.

13. Berryman 0212 Emissions Pass Protection

The Berryman brand isn’t as well known but that doesn’t mean this isn’t a great product. While it isn’t as effective a cleaner as other brands, it does a thorough job of reducing carbon and nitrogen emissions to help you pass your emissions test.

It also provides a lot of value. One bottle is enough to keep your emissions ratings low, and your fuel economy high, four well over 1,000 miles. The only downside is that it’s a bit pricey for what you actually get.

How to Clean Out Your Catalytic Converter

If you’re concerned that cleaning your converter is a big chore or wondering if you can even clean out your converter, you can relax. Cleaning your converter is a very simple process that anyone can do with a few simple steps and the best catalytic converter cleaner for your vehicle.

Do Catalytic Converter Cleaners Work?

The short answer is yes. Treating your converter with either a dedicated catalytic converter cleaner or all-in-one fuel cleaner can optimize your converter’s efficiency, increasing your power, acceleration, and fuel economy. A better question to ask is how well do catalytic converter cleaners work? The answer depends on the brand you use, which is why we’ll provide the 13 best catalytic converter cleaners later in the article.

Why Take the Time to Clean the Converter?

In cities that test emissions standards for vehicles, your cat converter is the primary component that determines whether you will pass or fail. If you fail the emissions test, a very likely reason is that your converter is either dirty or faulty. Taking your vehicle to a body shop or service center to fix a cat converter issue can be expensive, and in many cases, unnecessary.

Even if you’re fine on your emissions test cleaning your converter can increase your overall performance and yield anywhere from three to four more MPG. So, it’s still a good idea to conduct regular maintenance.

Cleaning Your Converter with Bottled Cleaner

Before you do anything else, we suggest checking your car’s manual to find out what type of cat converter it has. Also, check whether or not the cleaner can be used in your car’s system.

Once you’ve validated that your chosen cleaner will work, drive until you have about four gallons of fuel left.

Once you have around four gallons left, park in a safe location, shut off your engine, and open your gas cap. Pour your converter cleaner into your gas tank in accordance with the instructions on the bottle.

Afterward, continue to drive for an additional 10 miles or until the low fuel warning gauge comes on. As you drive, stick close to a gas station so you don’t risk being stranded. Once your low fuel warning comes on, refuel your gas tank, and continue driving as normal. If you find you’re still having issues, repeat the process.

That’s all there is to it!

Performing a Deep Clean on Your Catalytic Converter

In most instances, using a bottle of cat converter cleaner will do the job. However, if you’ve never cleaned your converter or it’s been a long time between cleanings, even the best cleaners may not be enough. You may need to remove your converter and clean it by hand. This isn’t a difficult process, but you should only attempt it if your converter is bolted into the exhaust system. If it’s welded in, we do not recommend that you attempt this yourself.

  1. Let your vehicle’s exhaust cool down before you attempt to remove the converter.
  2. Using jack stands (or a vehicle lift) to support the wheel hubs, elevate your vehicle off the ground. You must be on a level surface to do this! If your vehicle isn’t level, you could be seriously or fatally injured.
  3. Once you’ve located your converter, remove the O2 sensor from the converter
  4. Remove the bolts that secure your converter to the exhaust system, working from fender to bumper.
  5. Clean the interior of your converter using your bottled cleaner or hot, soapy water. Ensure that your converter is completely dry before you reinstall to prevent rusting.
  6. Replace your converter by following these steps in reverse.
  7. Test to ensure there aren’t any leaks in the connection. You can do this by running a lit candle slowly up and down the length of your exhaust system while your engine is running. If the candle flickers erratically, you may have an exhaust leak.

 

 

Final Verdict  

There you have it – our top 20 choices for Miss Cat Cleaner of the Year, 2019. They help your engine feel beautiful on the inside. Like all beauty competitions, there can really only be one winner. That honor goes to the Chevron Techron Concentrate because of its all-around effectiveness and unbeatable low price.  

Lucas Fuel Treatment comes in at second because of its relatively low cost, high efficiency, and ease of use.

Finally, BG 44K Fuel System Cleaner comes in third and deserves a special mention here for just how effective it is given that it’s a relatively new product.

Overall, the real winner here is you – cleaning out your cat every three to five thousand miles is pretty simple and can make a real difference in terms of performance.

Bryce

Bryce Newell is an automotive enthusiast who loves to write about the latest news, products, and DIY projects. While Bryce is an amateur in the field, he is passionate about cars and has been since he spent weekends in the garage helping his dad rebuild a 68 Dodge Charger as a kid.

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