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Old 09-14-2011, 05:11 PM   #1
brent5631
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Default Catalytic converter cleaning?

Does anyone know anything about cleaning a cat? Reason is my girlfriend had a low efficiency code and her dad took it to a mechanic they have used for many years. He cleaned the cat apparently so he could inspect the car. What i don't get is why it cost about $350.
So do any of the mechanics here know what he did? Or why it cost so much?
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Old 09-14-2011, 05:18 PM   #2
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Default Re: Catalytic converter cleaning?

I've heard of a fix for camrys with that code being to force a rich condition causing the cat to work harder and heat up more. the thinking being that the extra heat generated will burn off anything in the cat and bring it back to life. you won't catch me doing it though. its a great way to melt a cat down, render it useless, and cause an exhaust restriction. I've also seen cars catch fire from overheated cats.
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Old 09-14-2011, 05:22 PM   #3
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Default Re: Catalytic converter cleaning?

lol , he smashed you for a flush service
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Old 09-14-2011, 05:29 PM   #4
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Default Re: Catalytic converter cleaning?

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Originally Posted by SpiderGearsMan View Post
lol , he smashed you for a flush service
Yeah. That's why I'm asking. They swear by this guy though and he has always taken care of them. But being a car guy myself and doing my own work this sounds like a bunch of bs. Plus I'm kinda a little annoyed cause I could have welded in a replacement for a third the cost. But no one asked me they just took it over there.
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Old 09-14-2011, 05:32 PM   #5
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Default Re: Catalytic converter cleaning?

You got screwed. You can't clean a cat.
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Old 09-14-2011, 05:32 PM   #6
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Default Re: Catalytic converter cleaning?

As far as I know there is no way to clean a catalytic converter. A cat inefficiency code means replace the cat. (The ones on the car, the feline variety are very inefficient and there is no way to fix that! LOL)
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Old 09-14-2011, 05:33 PM   #7
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Default Re: Catalytic converter cleaning?

all he did if anything was delay the inevitable, replacing the cat. like you have stated you could have replaced it cheaper.
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Old 09-14-2011, 05:39 PM   #8
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Default Re: Catalytic converter cleaning?

I worked for one of the Detroit 3 on electronic fuel injection system for over 25 years. Never heard of cleaning a cat. They get pretty darn hot under normal operations.

I agree with greasejockey. I would never force a rich condition in an attempt to "clean" a cat. You run the risk of a meltdown.

Depending on exactly what error codes were present, it could be just a failing front and/or rear EGO sensor.
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Old 09-14-2011, 05:41 PM   #9
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Default Re: Catalytic converter cleaning?

Seen vehicles in for no power at all because of a plugged up catalytic converter.Confirmed it using a back pressure gauge.One customer took their vehicle to a muffler shop,said there was nothing wrong with the catalytic converter and this shop was dead wrong.The muffler shop never hooked up a back pressure gauge at all to check for this.
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Old 09-14-2011, 06:53 PM   #10
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Default Re: Catalytic converter cleaning?

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Originally Posted by greaseyjockey View Post
I've heard of a fix for camrys with that code being to force a rich condition causing the cat to work harder and heat up more. the thinking being that the extra heat generated will burn off anything in the cat and bring it back to life. you won't catch me doing it though. its a great way to melt a cat down, render it useless, and cause an exhaust restriction. I've also seen cars catch fire from overheated cats.
Not sure why not- a catalytic insufficiency code is a catalytic insufficiency code whether the catalytic converter is plugged or melted. Either way, you won't pass inspection.
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Old 09-14-2011, 07:42 PM   #11
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Default Re: Catalytic converter cleaning?

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Originally Posted by wafrederick View Post
Seen vehicles in for no power at all because of a plugged up catalytic converter.Confirmed it using a back pressure gauge.One customer took their vehicle to a muffler shop,said there was nothing wrong with the catalytic converter and this shop was dead wrong.The muffler shop never hooked up a back pressure gauge at all to check for this.
Never heard of a muffler shop that said nothing was wrong. They are quick to grab the cutting torch.
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Old 09-14-2011, 07:48 PM   #12
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Default Re: Catalytic converter cleaning?

I've heard of "cleaning*" diesel particulate filters, but never cat converters. They become inefficient (age/wear), break down or melt and plug up. Forcing it to run rich would most likely cause the cat to ignite unburnt fuel inside itself and melt it down.

*Something like soaking them in petrol and then blowing them through with a blowtorch to burn off the soot.
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Old 09-14-2011, 07:52 PM   #13
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Default Re: Catalytic converter cleaning?

I have been told that if you drive the whatever hard it will help clean it out and help get better mpg. Drive slow then press the pedaal down and get into passing gear then let off and slow and repeat a few times
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Old 09-14-2011, 07:56 PM   #14
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Default Re: Catalytic converter cleaning?

I will say this...I have heard some anecdotal evidence of this working, but I have no idea for how long. Another tech I know had a customer come in who couldn't afford a new catalytic converter- I think he said there was a large exhaust pressure drop, but I could be making that up. He took a can or two of B12 Chemtool (the aerosolized version) and sprayed it into the intake in four second bursts with the engine running and at operating temp. Apparently the code went out and didn't come back.

-Techniker
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Old 09-14-2011, 07:57 PM   #15
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Default Re: Catalytic converter cleaning?

Thanks guys. I know there are a few pros on here and wanted to get some advice. I told her a few days ago it was gonna be a lot no matter what he did. She didn't like hearing the told you so today. I pretty much thought they couldn't be cleaned sucks I was right I guess.
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Old 09-14-2011, 07:58 PM   #16
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Default Re: Catalytic converter cleaning?

The only thing that got cleaned out was your wallet. What he did was rip you off.
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Old 09-14-2011, 08:03 PM   #17
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Default Re: Catalytic converter cleaning?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Techniker View Post
I will say this...I have heard some anecdotal evidence of this working, but I have no idea for how long. Another tech I know had a customer come in who couldn't afford a new catalytic converter- I think he said there was a large exhaust pressure drop, but I could be making that up. He took a can or two of B12 Chemtool (the aerosolized version) and sprayed it into the intake in four second bursts with the engine running and at operating temp. Apparently the code went out and didn't come back.

-Techniker
To some extent, yes. Assuming that the cat has carbon build-up as opposed to low efficency due to wear. The carbon covers the reactant and stops it working, raise the EGT and burn off the carbon (Like a DPF going into regen, the EGT goes up and burns out the soot/carbon.) Brake cleaner, carb cleaner, acetone, etc will work. (With risks) You're raising the EGT without really making it rich (By burning a more "pure" fuel.) because more rich means more carbon.

I often get cars in that run like crap because they're only driven around town at low speed, stop/start driving. Usually just fouled plugs (Which is why i often change plugs well before their service interval, they're fouled to shit.) and good clean sorts it out. Followed by the car being given a good run to clear it out a bit more.

Quote:
Originally Posted by brent5631 View Post
Thanks guys. I know there are a few pros on here and wanted to get some advice. I told her a few days ago it was gonna be a lot no matter what he did. She didn't like hearing the told you so today. I pretty much thought they couldn't be cleaned sucks I was right I guess.
Go to the place and speak to him, find out exactly what he did. If it isn't kosher demand he make it right or refund the money for work he didn't/couldn't do. Shit like this is a big part of the reason this trade has a terrible reputation.
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Old 09-14-2011, 08:14 PM   #18
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Default Re: Catalytic converter cleaning?

I have worked in a dyno lab for 10 years doing emissions testing and have never heard of cleaning a cat. Diesel particulate filter yes, but cat no. Forcing a rich condition won't do a lot if there is no oxygen to light it off. You might be able to force a rich condition followed by a lean or misfire condition to get the cat to light off hard, but you would most likely just melt the brick. Another way to do it would be to retard the spark and get your exhaust temps up and heat up the cat, but my experience has been that this usually ends up melting the cat too. I melted my fair share of cats when I was running the engines... now as an engineer I mostly only setup the shutdown limits for them. My favorites were the engines that had a dummy cat installed (ceramic brick with no precious metals so it didn't react) You could really push those ones for the best numbers.
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Old 09-14-2011, 08:18 PM   #19
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Default Re: Catalytic converter cleaning?

A hammer, big prybar and rear o2 eleminators,
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Old 09-15-2011, 06:10 PM   #20
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Default Re: Catalytic converter cleaning?

Whatever you do, DO NOT DO THIS:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5icTmYItwiE

At least, that's what I'm thinking the whole time he's doing this.
Now I know most of the guys here are smarter than this. But read the comments, it's disturbing, people are actually agreeing to do it
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