The catalytic converter is a crucial component present in all cars that run on conventional fuels. It also happens to be one of the most expensive car parts to replace, and can easily cost you a couple of thousand dollars depending on the car model.
A clogged catalytic converter can cause problems for your car, and even stop it from running if the clog is too severe. In such scenarios, you might be wondering whether removing the component will affect the engine.
Well, despite being such a crucial component, the catalytic converter doesn’t exactly play a role in helping the car run. Neither would its absence affect your engine, at least negatively.
Does removing catalytic converter affect engine?
Wondering whether removing your faulty cat converter will affect the engine? Well, as the component doesn’t really play an active role in running the car and only filters the exhaust gasses, it won’t really have a negative impact on the engine. You may rest assured that removing your car’s catalytic converter will not damage the engine.
When the cat converter is in place, it might bottle up exhaust gasses, resulting in back pressure. This pressure stresses the engine and forces it to perform harder. The engine will run smoother if the cat converter goes missing.
What happens if I take my catalytic converters off?
In the first place, you need to understand the functional mechanism of a catalytic component. Well, this component contains a honeycomb structure made of ceramic.
The honeycomb carries coatings of three precious metals – palladium, rhodium, and platinum. These three metals act as catalysts and cause poisonous substances in the exhaust gasses to break down into less harmful substances. Therefore, the catalytic converter serves as a filtration component in your car’s exhaust system.
As you might guess, taking off your catalytic converters basically means removing the exhaust filtration system.
The exhaust gasses will no longer be breaking down into less dangerous elements before entering the atmosphere. The toxic substances present in unfiltered car emissions include hydrocarbons, nitric oxide, and carbon monoxide.
However, your car will still run fine, even without the catalytic converter. In fact, this component was rather uncommon until the 1970s, when it became compulsory to use cat converters.
As long as you replace the cat converter with a pipe so that the gasses can continue on their way to the exhaust, you shouldn’t have any issue. However, keep in mind that this is actually illegal, and you may face hefty fines for driving without a catalytic converter.
Will a car run better without a catalytic converter?
Yes, removing the catalytic converter can help your car run better. While this isn’t always the case, some cars show a slight improvement in performance when running without a catalytic converter.
This is because the catalytic converter usually has a constriction that increases the pressure of the exhaust gasses. Eventually, it releases a back pressure that finds its way to the engine.
With the catalytic converter gone and no back pressure to strain it down, the engine can deliver its maximum potential. This results in higher horsepower, consequently allowing the car to run better.
While getting rid of your catalytic converter enhances the engine performance, it doesn’t always mean a better driving experience.
Without a cat converter, a car drives more roughly. The car might be particularly jarring when accelerating. Comparatively, a vehicle with a catalytic converter drives much smoother.
What are the advantages of Removing Catalytic Converter?
There are several perks to removing the catalytic converter. However, before we get to it, you should remember that driving a car without a cat converter is illegal.
We do not recommend removing your catalytic converter unless it’s absolutely necessary, such as having a severely clogged cat converter. Advantages of removing your car’s cat converter include:
1. Better fuel economy
As mentioned previously, the constrictive design of the cat converter puts additional strain on the engine and forces it to work harder.
When you get rid of the component and your engine runs at its full potential, it can deliver the same overall performance without having to work as hard. This translates into lower fuel consumption and better fuel economy. Hence, you could save money on gas by removing the catalytic converter.
2. Better performance
Although we mentioned it previously too, this perk definitely deserves to be on this list as it is one of the biggest advantages of driving without a cat converter.
A car without a catalytic converter delivers better performance than one with the component. Besides the fact that driving the car might feel a little rougher than usual, your car will run better.
3. Lower operating temperature
When the back pressure from the cat converter forces the engine to work harder, the engine also generates more heat than usual.
The exhaust gasses are very hot too, and trapping them in the constricted formation only heats up the system further. Removing the catalytic converter will thus help reduce your car’s operating temperature.
4. Less wear and tear
All the pressure created by the gasses trapped at the constriction in the catalytic converter also results in wear and tear.
Although the effects are almost negligible, they still build up over time. Upon removing the catalytic converter, you’d be getting rid of the friction and consequently, the wear and tear.
5. More fuel options
Cars with catalytic converters cannot use leaded fuel, as leaded fuel destroys the materials inside this expensive component. In fact, the damage can be severe enough to render your car useless until you remove or replace the cat converter.
However, if your car doesn’t even have a catalytic converter in the first place, this won’t be a cause for concern. You’ll be free to use any fuel you wish, including the various high-performance leaded fuels.
What are the disadvantages of removing catalytic converter?
Although removing your catalytic converter comes with various benefits, including improved engine performance, but you should definitely consider the downsides. Disadvantages of removing a catalytic converter include:
1. Legal constraints
You might end up shelling out hefty fines in case you drive without a catalytic converter. With the exception of certain special cases, it’s illegal to drive without a cat converter. Removing the catalytic converter yourself can draw even more severe penalties, potentially thousands of dollars.
2. Emission tests
Quite obviously, a car without a catalytic converter will fail emission tests. Unless your vehicle meets the emission standards, you cannot renew its registration. This will indeed result in major inconvenience. Removing the cat converter will also get your smog certification suspended.
3. Toxic emissions
Without the catalytic converter breaking down the harmful substances in the exhaust gasses, your car will be releasing toxic emissions into the environment.
Even if this doesn’t concern you enough, remember that you yourself could inhale these gases when driving with your windows down or parking the car in your garage. Gases like carbon monoxide are extremely poisonous and can have major health implications.
4. Higher fuel consumption
This might seem a little contradictory to what we mentioned earlier about getting better gas mileage by removing the component, but it’s possible. It is true that putting less strain on the engine helps it work more efficiently.
However, the oxygen sensor measures the amount of oxygen in the exhaust gasses and accordingly adjusts the fuel-to-air ratio in the engine to deliver optimum efficiency. When the cat converter is missing, the sensor sends incorrect readings, which may result in more fuel entering the engine.
5. Noisy performance
The catalytic converter has a muffling effect on the exhaust noises, and significantly reduces the noise level. Naturally, this implies that a vehicle without a catalytic converter will make lots of noise.
Any noise above the safe limit of 85 decibels can be dangerous to your hearing health.
When driving with your windows rolled down and the catalytic converter removed, the noise levels in your car can exceed 110 decibels. Even if this doesn’t harm your hearing, it can still prove to be really annoying and make it hard to have conversations in the car.
In case your catalytic converter cracks or clogs up heavily, it might create various problems and prevent your car from running properly. In such situations, removing the component may sound like a good idea as it won’t affect the engine.
While the best solution is to replace it with a new cat converter, you may temporarily drive without it as long as you fill its place with a pipe or a dummy cat.
However, you could potentially face heavy fines if caught driving without a cat converter. Alternatively, you may install a cheap aftermarket cat converter that meets the regulations and use it until you can buy an original unit.