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Removing your catalytic converter should not be undertaken lightly. You should carefully weigh up the pros and cons of removing catalytic converter before even considering it. The fact is that although there are some benefits, the negatives could prove very costly.
The guidelines I suggest in this article will guide you through the decision-making process to help you arrive at the best option for your and your vehicle.
So, let’s get to it and take a closer look at the considerations…
- The Advantages of Removing a Catalytic Converter
- The Disadvantages of Removing a Catalytic Converter
- Got The Best Gear for Lifting Your Vehicle?
- Now You Know The Pros and Cons of Removing Catalytic Converter
The Advantages of Removing a Catalytic Converter
This is the main reason people remove catalytic converters. With the catalytic converter removed, you can expect a noticeable increase in horsepower. This is probably not a significant consideration for everyday driving, but if you’re involved in motorsport, every bit of power you can eke out of your engine is substantial.
So how is this achieved?
A catalytic converter reduces the natural flow of gases from an exhaust system. This, in turn, limits the power of your engine. With a cat removed, the natural flow of gases is resumed, and hence the full potential of your engine is realized.
Lower Engine Temperature
Improving gas flow has the knock-on effect of reducing the temperature in your exhaust system. This is great for your exhaust system as it can reduce engine temperatures and so limit potential wear and tear.
Better Fuel Options
A car fitted with a cat can only use unleaded fuel.
A cat uses materials that can be easily damaged by lead. Additionally, high-performance fuels can cause corrosion. This, therefore, limits you to using only unleaded fuels.
Without a catalytic converter, you’re free to use whatever fuels you like. This is imperative if you need to use fuels for racing purposes.
Lower Gas Mileage
A clogged-up catalytic converter will undoubtedly reduce the efficiency of your engine and decrease its performance. However, keep in mind that the level of improved gas mileage is not likely to be great. Plus, if your cat is working as it should, the potential for fuel savings is even less. In fact, in some instances, it can even lead to worse gas consumption.
But more of that later…
Better Exhaust Sound
It’s not likely to be the most important reason for thinking about your catalytic converter, but never the less, some drivers prefer a more aggressive engine note. If that’s you, then removing your cat might give you the sound you want.
Alternatively, an altogether more straightforward solution would be to add a sound amplifying exhaust tip. These are inexpensive, and they’re also completely legal. A good option would be something like the DC Sports EX-1012B, or check out my review for the best exhaust resonators on the market.
Catalytic converters are expensive. If you have to replace one, you can expect to have to dig deep. If you’re on a tight budget, and let’s face it, most of us are, it might not be possible to fix it when it goes wrong. It may be that you decide to remove it and replace it at a later date when finances allow.
I get it.
The Disadvantages of Removing a Catalytic Converter
I’m not going to pull any punches here because the consequences of removing your cat are potentially severe. The truth is that taking your catalytic converter off your car and driving it on public roads is illegal. It’s illegal in the US, and it’s illegal in just about every country in the world.
So, what are the consequences?
You can expect a stinging fine that’s likely to make your eyes water. It’s also possible in some locales that your car will be seized and crushed. Yes, seriously.
One point that needs to be clarified is that this applies to public roads and highways only. If you never take your vehicle off private roads or tracks, then you’re good to go. For off-roading or motor racing, you’ll be fine… not fined!
The whole point of having a cat on your vehicle is to reduce pollution and to reduce the release of harmful emissions into the atmosphere. Since the inception of catalytic converters, pollution in towns and cities has decreased massively.
If you can reasonably run your car with a catalytic converter, which almost all of us can, it’s a good idea to do just that. It will not only reduce pollution for you but everyone else as well.
Now, who wouldn’t want that?
There’s no doubt that your car will fail its emissions test if you remove your catalytic converter. The test varies from country to county, but the upshot is that you won’t get a certificate to allow you to use it on the roads and highways legally.
But that’s not all…
Another unwanted consequence is that since most test centers are duty bound by law to report a removed cat, you could see that stinging fine we talked about earlier. You are also likely to get your car seized, and it might even be sent to the crusher.
Removing the cat will probably trigger a warning light on your dashboard. This, in turn, will generate a fault code. That’s annoying, to say the least. It can also be confusing in the event of another fault occurring.
It’s, therefore, a good idea to have a code reader like the ANCEL AD310 to help you identify any additional faults and clear them. Also, check out my reviews of the best car health monitors for help in this regard.
You may love the sound of your car with the catalytic converter removed… and that’s great.
But consider this…
Without a cat, your car will be louder, and you consequently become more noticeable to just about everyone. It could also be that your vehicle exceeds the maximum permitted noise levels in your area. If this happens and the police pull you over, things could get expensive and complicated very quickly.
Plus, you may soon find yourself falling out with your neighbors. Do you really want to wake them up after a late night? I’d suggest that, in all probability, you don’t.
The chances are that if you remove your cat unless it’s damaged or clogged up, your fuel consumption will suffer. This is because most catalytic converters are linked to an oxygen sensor and computerized engine management system. The removal of the cat will play havoc with the oxygen sensor’s readings and will cause a change in the fuel mix.
Expect worse gas mileage as a result…
The only exception to this is if you have a vehicle that was fitted with a catalytic converter before the introduction of oxygen sensors and computer engine management systems. This would only be present in some cars manufactured back in the early 1980s.
Removing a Catalytic Converter
Although this is theoretically something you can do yourself, it’s unfortunately not quite that straightforward. Before you embark on this as a DIY project, there are a few things that first need to be carefully considered.
Let’s dig a little deeper…
Firstly, in the US and a lot of countries around the world, there is strict legislation covering the removal and replacement of cat converters. Very often, laws dictate that there must be a solid reason to remove and replace the existing catalytic converter. If an approved center has confirmed that this is the case, then you can proceed.
But there’s more…
Even if this is all officially approved, the US and most other countries will only allow a recognized and certified center to carry out the job. Once the job is finished, you then have to have it certified by an official inspector. Then and only then will you be street legal.
So, after carefully considering the pros and cons of removing catalytic converter, do you still want to remove or replace yours?
If you do, then here’s how to do it…
Firstly, you need to park your car in your garage, driveway, or somewhere on even ground. Once it has been jacked up, ensure that you use jack stands to adequately support it. Something like the BIG RED T42002A Torin Steel Jack Stands are ideal, or check out our reviews of the best jack stands for cars and light trucks on the market.
Make sure your vehicle is sufficiently high enough in the air to give you easy access.
Once your car has cooled down, if it’s been running, you can proceed to disconnect your oxygen sensor using an oxygen sensor socket like the ITEQ 5. Then you can proceed to remove the old cat.
Where to find it?
The catalytic converter is situated towards the end of the tailpipe. Some are bolted on and are quick and easy to remove. Others are welded on and will need to be cut off with a reciprocating saw.
Once that’s done, you will need to either replace the catalytic converter with a new one, or alternatively, you will have to add new sections of the exhaust pipe to join the cut pieces of the old exhaust system.
Got The Best Gear for Lifting Your Vehicle?
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Back to what to consider before removing your cat converter…
Now You Know The Pros and Cons of Removing Catalytic Converter
There you have it. I’m sure you’ll now agree that removing your catalytic converter should only be done in a few instances. The cat plays such an essential role in reducing emissions and keeping the environment clean. So you should think very seriously before even considering it.
If you still decide to go ahead, just keep in mind some of the points that have been raised, so you don’t end up on the wrong side of the law.