A vehicle’s catalytic converter circulates gas back into the engine and also aids in exhaust system cleanup, which is vital to emission control. If a catalytic converter stops working properly or stops working altogether, the vehicle will release more emissions, run rougher and will not have as good of fuel efficiency. Although catalytic converter replacement is normally costly, it is easy to save money by buying the correct part and replacing it at home. Use this guide to learn how to replace a catalytic converter.
Prepare For Installation
Park the vehicle on a level plane. If the surface is not completely flat, there is a greater risk for serious injury or death if any of the jacks fail. Use a jack for all of the wheels to raise the vehicle. Make sure it is completely raised off the ground. An alternate option for people who are familiar and comfortable with hydraulics is using a hydraulic lift. Allow the exhaust system to cool completely before continuing, which should only take up to 20 minutes. Working on the system when it is hot will result in serious burns.
Disconnect the Catalytic Converter
Finding the catalytic converter is easy. Follow the tubes on the exhaust system toward the back. The converter is round or rectangular in shape and is usually in the middle of the exhaust system. However, some types may be in the shape of a cylinder. In most cases, the converter is bolted onto the system. If it has been welded, take it to an auto body shop to have it properly removed. Only experienced welders with the proper tools should attempt to remove or replace a welded catalytic converter. Next, disconnect the oxygen sensor. Use a sensor socket and a ratchet to do this. Since the bolts for the converter are typically hard to remove, spray them with penetrating oil. Using a wrench, remove the bolts by loosening all of the nuts first. Start by removing the rear bolts. Remove the front bolts last.
Read the Catalytic Converter Installation Instructions
Every vehicle model may have slightly different instructions for installing the catalytic converter. If there are instructions included with the part, read them carefully before proceeding. Be sure to complete any extra steps indicated by the individual instructions throughout this process. When in doubt or when instructions are not included, find them online or by calling the manufacturer for more information.
Position the New Catalytic Converter In Place
If there are gaskets included with the new catalytic converter, insert them first. Most converters come with round gaskets that fit in the pipes of the converter. Be sure to install them using the included instructions, which typically vary from one manufacturer to another. Next, position the new converter in its place where it will be installed. Check its position twice to be sure the correct side is facing downward before proceeding to bolt it back in. People who have a hard time working with one hand should ask a friend to help with the next steps.
Replace the Bolts And Oxygen Sensor
Insert the front bolts first and the rear ones last. As they are inserted, put the nuts on the bolts. Tighten them just enough to stay in place with your fingers. When the bolts have all been put in place, use the correct size wrench to tighten them firmly. Since the majority of exhaust leaks are caused by loose bolts, it is important to use as much strength as possible when tightening the bolts. Next, screw the oxygen sensor back in place by reversing the steps used to remove it. When doing this, examine the wiring attached to them. If it is damaged or frayed, it should be replaced. Bad wires can lead to repeat incidents of the “check engine” light coming on.
Check For Leaks
When everything is back in place, it is important to check for leaks. Run a candle along the system to see if the flame bounces or blows out. If it does, there may be a leak. Another way to check is to screw a pressure gauge into the oxygen sensor on the converter. At 2,000 RPMs, it should read less than 1.25 psi.
It really is that simple to learn how to replace a catalytic converter. Never waste money on professional repairs when they are unnecessary. By gathering the tools mentioned in this guide and setting aside some time and patience, catalytic converter replacement is a task most beginners can complete.
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