How to Replace a Catalytic Converter

Written by leigh kelley
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The catalytic converter is part of the exhaust system that filters some toxins and impurities out of exhaust gases. Sometimes, replacing the catalytic converter will give your vehicle more power. This is especially true if the old catalytic converter is clogged. In some areas, it is illegal to drive a car with a malfunctioning catalytic converter. Because of this, you will need to replace it. In most cases, replacing the catalytic converter is a do-it-yourself job that will take up the better part of an afternoon.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Lubricant
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Rubber mallet
  • Automotive exhaust patch kit

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    Remove the Old Catalytic Converter

  1. 1

    Jack up the car using two jacks on the front of the car and two jacks on the rear of the car. Stabilise the car using jack stands. Make sure that these are placed on jack support points.

  2. 2

    Lubricate the bolts and clamps. This will make them easier to remove.

  3. 3

    Remove all of the bolts and put them in a safe place. You can loosen them with an adjustable wrench, as the bolt size varies in every vehicle. Once the bolts are removed, you can remove the heat shield and the clamps.

  4. 4

    Pull the catalytic converter off of the vehicle. You may have to shake it slightly to get it loose from the pipes that connect to it. In some cases, you may need to lightly tap on the catalytic converter with a rubber mallet to release it.

  5. 5

    Inspect the pipes that connect to the catalytic converter for damage. If you see damage on any of the pipes, you may have to replace them. If you notice a small crack or puncture, you may be able to patch it using an exhaust patch kit from your local automotive store. Wipe off the edge of both pipes that will attach to the new catalytic converter.

    Install the New Catalytic Converter

  1. 1

    Attach the new catalytic converter to the exhaust pipe coming from the front of the vehicle. You may need to lightly tap it with the rubber mallet so it will be securely fastened to the exhaust pipe.

  2. 2

    Align the exhaust pipe that comes from the rear of the vehicle with the hole in the back of the catalytic converter. You may need to push the pipe back slightly so you can properly align it. Once it is aligned, push the pipe into the catalytic converter about one inch.

  3. 3

    Replace the heat plate, if you took one off, and replace all of the bolts. Make sure that all of the bolts are securely fastened.

  4. 4

    Slide out from underneath the vehicle and start the engine. Check the new catalytic converter for leaks. The most common place for a leak to occur is at the area where the exhaust pipes meet the catalytic converter. If you notice a leak, you can usually patch it with an automotive exhaust patch kit. If this is necessary, you will need to check for leaks again once the patch is set according to the manufacturer's directions.

  5. 5

    Remove the jack stands and lower the vehicle to the ground.

  6. 6

    Document the catalytic converter replacement in your auto maintenance manual. In some states, such as California, you will need to report this when you have an automotive inspection.

  7. 7

    Dispose of the old catalytic converter. In some states, such as California, you will need to take it to an approved disposal location. You can contact a local mechanic or auto parts store to find out the requirements in your area.

Tips and warnings

  • Don't try to replace a catalytic converter that was welded on unless you have experience in torch cutting and welding. The catalytic converter is close to fuel lines and other flammable components, so trying to weld in this area is dangerous.

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