The catalytic converter in your car is responsible for cleaning up the vehicle’s exhaust. Because this equipment gets dirty over time, knowing how to replace catalytic converter yourself can improve your vehicle’s efficiency. If you don’t replace the catalytic converter when you should, it could cause your vehicle to perform roughly or create additional emissions.
Our guide will show you how to replace catalytic converter in precise steps. We will show you what tools you’ll need for this job, how to get the old converter off of your vehicle, and how to install the new one.
Things You’ll Need
Here you will find a complete list of the tools you will need to make this job go smoothly and easily. You will need one or more of these tools at various stages throughout the process of replacing your catalytic converter. We recommend going through this list to check off any tools you have or need before you check out how to replace catalytic converter below.
The products above represent examples of the types of tools you will need as part of knowing how to replace catalytic converter. Any similar products in these categories may work fine for your needs.
Step 1: Park and Raise the Vehicle
Knowing how to replace the catalytic converter on your vehicle is different from being able to change a single tire. You’ll need to use the car jacks to physically raise the whole unit off the ground and allow you access to the areas on which you’ll need to work. It’s a good idea to find a spot that is level and allows you to raise your car off the ground evenly.
Step 2: Let Your Car Cool Down
Your car’s exhaust system might still be running hot if it hasn’t yet had an opportunity to cool. Giving your vehicle ample time to cool down can reduce the risk of burns or other injuries. It only takes a few minutes for this, so it is a good step to include here. You can test for residual heat by gently brushing the pipes with the back of your hand while wearing heavy gloves.
Step 3: Locate the Catalytic Converter
Now that your vehicle is raised up on jacks and has had a chance to cool down, you can slide underneath it to check the position of the catalytic converter. Your catalytic converter should look like a rectangular box in the middle of your exhaust system. It may have a cylindrical appearance rather than a round one, but it should not be hard for you to spot in any case.
Step 4: Determine How the Converter Attaches to the Vehicle
There are two primary ways that a catalytic converter is attached to most cars. Which one is present on your vehicle will determine how to replace catalytic converter. Check to see whether your converter is bolted or welded to the exhaust system. You can use a sawzall and a welder to replace one that is welded on, but you should keep in mind that this involves some advanced mechanical skills.
Step 5: Check For and Remove the Oxygen Sensor
Chances are pretty good that your catalytic converter uses at least one oxygen sensor. These sensors help your car monitor how efficiently it processes emissions. Use an appropriate socket wrench from your toolkit to remove the sensor and keep it out of the way while you work.
Step 6: Remove the Bolts
If your catalytic converter is bolted to the exhaust frame, apply a small amount of lubricating oil to make it easier to remove the bolts. Select the size of the wrench you need and loosen all the bolts without removing them. After you have loosened all the bolts on the converter, start by taking the rear bolts off first and the front bolts off last. You are now ready to remove the converter itself.
Step 7/Method 2: Cutting Out the Converter
If your converter is welded to the frame and you are prepared to remove it, here is where you will do so. Use your sawzall tool to cut carefully along the weld lines that are already present. When you have cut through the entire outline, you may need to use a hammer to knock the converter out of its place. If you do need to use a hammer, be careful not to damage other parts of the exhaust.
Step 8: Checking the New Converter
The exact steps for installing a catalytic converter can vary from model to model, but we’ve provided general steps that may be of use here. The first thing you should do is check the arrows to determine which way the exhaust should flow on the new converter. Once you have done that, you should install any gaskets that came with the converter before you proceed.
Step 9: Positioning the Converter
Hold the replacement converter over the spot where you’ll need to install it. Double-check the arrows to make sure everything is facing the proper direction. While you can do all this yourself, working with one hand while holding the new converter can be tough. You should use caution or get a friend to help you.
Step 10: Tighten the Bolts
Start tightening each bolt by hand. Once all of them have been tightened a little, you can use a wrench to complete the process. Tighten the bolts at the front end first and the bolts at the rear end last. Reattach the oxygen sensor if necessary and double-check everything.
Here’s a video tutorial to help you out:
The steps above should work to replace most catalytic converters whether they are bolted or welded to the frame. Please feel free to share your experiences or tips with us in the section below.