Lacquer Thinner Catalytic Converter Cleaner: Does It Work?

by Conner Mckay

Cleaning a catalytic converter is not an easy task. The most reasonable question one might encounter is one for a product for cleaning it. A vehicle’s catalytic converter can accumulate emissions while oxidizing the car’s carbon emissions. Therefore, cleaning the catalytic converter is necessary to maintain a perfect running vehicle. One of the products for cleaning your catalytic converter is the Lacquer Thinner catalytic converter cleaner.

The Lacquer Thinner cleaner is a metal surface cleaning agent, but it can also dissolve and remove paint from a metal surface. Lacquer Thinner has become a popular product for cleaning a catalytic converter because of its dissolving capacities. It is used to dissolve carbon inside the catalytic converter.

Although the Lacquer Thinner works as a cleaning agent, it is not entirely safe to use as a catalytic converter cleaner. So, if you are wondering about catalytic converter cleaners, this article will explain all there is about a Lacquer Thinner catalytic converter cleaner.

Lacquer Thinner Catalytic Converter Cleaner

Best Catalytic Converter Cleaner

While catalytic converters are essential for reducing the toxicity level of the gases a car engine produces before emitting them, they can also get dirty. Years of usage without change, contaminated fuel (like what happens if you put gas in a diesel engine), or fault in the converter can lead to an accumulation of dirt which can cause damage.

The prone to damage due to excess dirt makes it crucial to clean the catalytic converter occasionally. At any of these signs, the catalytic converter might need cleaning. They include a rotten smell and a sharp decline in fuel economy. There are several cleaners, but these are the best ones you can use:

1. Cataclean Engine Cleaner

Cataclean is probably the best solvent cleaner for catalytic converters and oxygen sensors. It can even effectively fix catalytic converter-related error codes and has a 50% emissions reduction rate claim. However, it is pretty expensive but very effective.

2. CRC Formula

CRC formula is a solvent product known for its slogan “guaranteed to pass emission system formula.” The brand offers a double refund to solidify its trust in the efficiency of the product. The product dissolves and eradicates carbon from a car catalytic converter, engine, and fuel injectors.

CRC has a considerable success rate in solving a P0420 fault code. It aids in a car scaling through a smog test. It is best to use CRC cleaner within the interval of 3,000 miles.

Lacquer Thinner Catalytic Converter Cleaner

3. Solder-It CAT-1

Solder-It is not just a cat converter cleaner. It also has deodorizing components that can remove the nasty choking odor of toxic gases. Adding Solder-It into a quarter-full car gas tank and driving around before refilling the gas tank will not just clean the catalytic converter. It will also remove the horrible odor from toxic gas releases.

4. Oxicat Oxygen Sensor And Catalytic Converter Cleaner

Oxicat is a German product that cleans the whole exhaust system of a car. It removes the carbon and soot deposits in the car engine system. With proper usage, Oxicat has excellent restorative and cleaning abilities. It can clear out check engine code faults.

5. Hi-Gear HG3270s

Hi-Gear is another great catalytic converter cleaner. It cleans not only the cat converter but also the exhaust and fuel system, piston, and valves. Using Hi-Gear will show an increase in engine capability and fuel economy. It can also clear out emission-related error codes.

6. Sledgehammer Run-Rite Kit

This cleaner uses two products simultaneously to clean the exhaust and fuel system. The products include the fuel system ultra cleaner and the rapid induction deposit.

This formula removes the caron and soot accumulation in the engine and fuel system. We do not recommend that newbies use this product because of the input method. To use, one has to release the solvents into the car vacuum line.

Cat Converter

7. Sea Foam Motor Treatment

Seafoam Motor Treatment does not clean the catalytic converter. Instead, it is a preventive method to avoid a clog. It cleans out the fuel injectors and combustion chamber and prevents the cat converter from having an excess accumulation of dirt.

If the cat converter is not wholly clogged or broken apart on the inside, there is an excellent chance that using any cleaner type can restore it. However, this guarantee only works if the vehicle is still running correctly. The cleaner will have to circulate through the engine component to work properly.

We must note that most of these cleaning agents are highly flammable and quite dangerous to the car and the user. It can quickly explode without care. Some require dilution to prevent them from rusting the cat converter. It is best to take the car to a professional who knows how to clean a cat converter properly.

Cleaning Catalytic Converter

Once a cat converter develops a fault or breaks down, there is no way to repair it. Replacement is the only option for fixing a faulty catalytic converter (for more insight, check out our guide on damage to catalytic converter). This debacle makes it essential to take care of the component, which includes occasional cleaning.

However, before cleaning, there are some things one should consider or observe to determine if what is necessary is a cleaning or a replacement. These things include the following:

Lacquer Thinner Catalytic Converter Cleaner: #1. Level Of Clog

A too-clogged catalytic converter will not allow the engine to run. If the cat converter is clogged and the engine is not running, then cleaning agents cannot work. The best option will be to replace the cat converter.

Lacquer Thinner Catalytic Converter Cleaner: #2. Loose Parts

Before using any cat converter cleaner, it is vital to check for loose parts inside the converter. Using a hammer, gently hit the catalytic converter to find out if any loose parts rattle.

You must remove the cat converter and replace it if there are any. Loose catalytic converter parts break out and clog the exhaust pipe, causing more damage. The engine will not run with a complete clog.

Lacquer Thinner Catalytic Converter Cleaner: #3. Oil Leaks

The catalytic converter might have a clog due to internal oil leakage. The oil might enter the cylinder and combust. The combustion will burn inside the catalytic converter leaving debris that will clog the converter. If this happens, it is best to repair the oil leak before cleaning the cat converter.

If you do not repair the leak, the clog will continue happening. Some signs of an internal oil leak include clogged crankcase ventilation, broken piston rings, and a broken valve seal. Always check the car crankcase ventilation for an oil leak.

Lacquer Thinner Catalytic Converter Cleaner

How To Clean A Catalytic Converter Without Uninstalling It

After considering the factors listed above and have concluded that there are no external factors affecting the catalytic converter. Instead, it needs cleaning. You can use any catalytic converter cleaning to remove debris without removing or dismantling the cat converter from the car. 

This cleaning method depends on the car engine’s ability to run correctly. You can follow these steps to clean a catalytic converter without removal from the car:

Step 1: Get A Catalytic Converter Cleaner

The type of cleaner agent to use depends on the car and the fuel type it uses. Some cleaning agents work better on diesel cars than gas cars. It also depends on the extent of engine cleaning one wants to achieve. Some catalytic cleaners also clean the fuel injectors and oxygen sensors.

Step 2: Add The Cat Converter Cleaner

Study the catalytic converter cleaner’s user manual to determine the amount for usage and pour it into the car tank. Using the right amount for your car is vital to avoid further damage to the catalytic converter.

Step 3: Drive The Car

After pouring the right amount of cat converter cleaner into the gas tank, take the car for a drive. Driving the vehicle will help burn out the clog in the catalytic converter, especially at high speed for a distance of over 3,000 miles. Always check the coolant temperature to ensure the car is not overheating.

We must repeat this. Cleaning agents only work if the catalytic converter is slightly clogged. It cannot solve problems of heavy clogs, loose parts, or oil leaks. These more severe problems will require the removal of the catalytic converter for thorough cleaning or replacement.

Lacquer Thinner To Clean Catalytic Converter

Lacquer Thinner is a chemical solvent capable of wiping emission debris from a catalytic converter in a vehicle. It contains chemical components such as butyl acetate and acetone. Lacquer Thinner is also capable of removing finishings on a metal surface.

Although, Lacquer Thinner as a catalytic converter cleaner is not popular and is riddled with arguments. It is efficient and can replace other cleaning agents with proper application and safety procedures.

Lacquer Thinner dissolves the carbon deposits inside a catalytic converter. However, it is not entirely safe and comes with risks to both the user and the car. Lacquer Thinner is highly flammable. Misuse of the solvent can lead to a fire outbreak or explosion. Also, improper dilution of Lacquer Thinner can damage the catalytic converter.

Despite these risks, it has a remarkable cleaning rate than most cleaner agents for cat converters. It is vital to understand the risk involved. If one cannot use Lacquer Thinner properly, then do not use it.

Cleaning A Catalytic Converter With Lacquer Thinner

The ability to dissolve carbon emissions inside the catalytic converter is why Lacquer Thinner is probably the best cleaning agent for cat converters. Follow these steps to clean a catalytic converter with Lacquer Thinner:

  • Inspect the catalytic converter to check for loose parts, clog extent, and oil leakage. If any, then you can proceed with cleaning.
  • Inspect and read the manual on the Lacquer Thinner package. Determine the amount to put into the vehicle and if you must dilute the solvent before using.
  • Carefully pour the Lacquer Thinner into a half-full tank till the required amount is. But, be careful not to get the liquid where it should not go. Lacquer Thinner is highly corrosive and can damage a car part if not done correctly.
  • Take the car for a ride to help burn it. Start driving slowly before increasing speed to burn the impurities away at a hotter rate. Be careful not to overheat the car.

While using Lacquer Thinner as a catalytic converter cleaner, ensure that you are close to a fire or spark. Do not pour it into any other car part except a half-filled tank. Do not get it on your body part. It is highly corrosive. Lastly, watch that the vehicle does not overheat.

Best Way To Clean Catalytic Converter

There are two methods for cleaning a catalytic converter. Use cleaning agents like Cataclean, Oxidat, Lacquer Thinner, and deep clean by removing the catalytic converter and washing thoroughly with soap and water. For more insight, check out our guide on what’s in a catalytic converter and what’s a catalytic converter.

There is no best way to clean the catalyst converter. The method you choose will depend on your technical ability and the level of dirt inside the converter. The method of removing the catalytic converter increases performance greatly. But, it is not a task for someone without proper knowledge of car part removal.

Removing a catalytic converter is a complicated procedure and not easy to do. Due to this difficulty, the easiest way to clean it will be by using cleaning products. They are easy and often give satisfying results.

Catalytic Converter Cleaning Tips

Deep cleaning a catalytic converter is quite simple after dismantling or removing the cat converter from the vehicle. However, there are some tips one needs to know before cleaning correctly. These tips will help for easier and better cleaning. They include the following: 

1. Prepare The Vehicle

Ensure that the vehicle parks in a flat place with lots of lighting. The parking position will prevent the car from rolling down while trying to dismantle the cat converter.

2. Remove The Catalytic Converter

While removing the cat converter, ensure that all bolts and screws are kept in a secure place to prevent loss.

3. Look Out For Damage

Check for damages to the cat converter. Ensure it is just dirty and has no defects. Shake it to ensure no part is loose inside. If they are defects or sounds from the inside, it may be necessary to replace them because of the damage.

4. Washing The Dirt

With the absence of any damage, you can start washing. Firstly wipe the dirt on the surface with a cloth. Use a power wash for the inside to remove stuck debris. You can use mild detergent and hot water to degrease if necessary.

5. Dry Out The Converter

Ensure the cat converter is completely dry before installing it back into the vehicle if it is not properly dry. Rust might start attacking it. The water remains could hinder the proper working of the component.

Cataclean VS Lacquer Thinner

Cataclean and Lacquer Thinner are both products with the ability to remove debris from a catalytic converter. However, despite the fact they serve the same overall purpose, they have some differences. 

Cataclean does not only remove debris. It removes carbon buildup caused by spark plugs and faulty fuel injectors inside the catalytic converter. Cataclean can fix drivability problems. The reduction of carbon increases airflow, power production, and fuel economy. It cleans engine components and reduces the rate of carbon emission.

While Lacquer Thinner has an excellent review on cleaning the catalytic converter and dissolving the carbon deposits inside the converter, it also is dangerous to car parts. It is corrosive and very flammable.

Improper usage of Lacquer Thinner can eat away at the catalytic converter. It is best to use Cataclean over Lacquer Thinner. Cataclean is solely made for vehicle engines, unlike Lacquer Thinner, which also serves as a metal finisher remover.

What If The Lacquer Thinner Does Not Work

The issue continues if the Lacquer Thinner catalytic converter cleaner does not work. In this case, the converter may have some damage. Remove and inspect the converter for loose parts, oil leaks, and total clogs. 

The code P0420 can be due to other reasons like bad oxygen sensors, leaking exhaust, and oil leaks. Check for other reasons for a code P0420. If they are other faults, fix them. If they are not, that means the converter needs a replacement.

It is best to take the car to a mechanic to determine and fix the fault. You can remove and replace it with a new one yourself. But, replacing a catalytic converter is quite complicated. Consider using a professional for the process.

FAQs On Lacquer Thinner Catalytic Converter Cleaner

How To Clean Catalytic Converter

There are two methods to clean a catalytic converter. By using fuel additives to burn out the debris and emission deposits. Or by removing the catalytic converter and washing properly with water and soap. The use of additives is the easiest method and involves adding the additive and driving to induce combustion that will burn off the impurities.

Can A Catalytic Converter Unclog Itself

No, a catalytic converter cannot unclog itself. However, the clog can dislodge while driving on high RPMs for a long time. But, it is almost impossible for a catalytic converter to unclog without help from the car owner or mechanic.

Can Catalytic Converters Be Cleaned

Yes, one can clean a catalytic converter. But, cleaning a catalytic converter is not manufacturer-recommended. Cleaning can result in internal catalyst damage. This damage can turn the system useless. It is best to replace a catalytic converter if heavily clogged instead of cleaning it.

How To Use Catalytic Converter Cleaner

To use a catalytic converter, you must leave the gas tank full. Inspect the cat converter for any damages and ensure the engine can run. Pour the right amount of converter cleaner inside the gas tank and drive for a long distance at high RPMs. The drive will cause combustion that will burn off the impurities.

How To Unblock A Catalytic Converter

There is no way to unblock a fully clogged catalytic converter. Replacement is the only option. However, removing and soaking the converter in hot water and degreaser for 45 minutes can dissolve the blockage if it is a partial block. Dry appropriately before reinstalling.

Does Catalytic Converter Cleaner Work

Yes, catalytic converter cleaner work to an extent. The use of cleaner additives works for sightly clogged converters. Cleaners are fuel additives that clean carbon deposits from the engine system. They do not repair damages in a catalytic converter.

How To Unclog A Catalytic Converter Without Removing It

You can unclog a catalytic converter using cleaner fuel additives without removing it. You pour the additive into the car gas tank and drive at high speed for a while for combustion purposes. The combustion will burn out the impurities inside the catalytic converter.

What Is The Best Catalytic Converter Cleaner

There is no definite best catalytic converter cleaner. The efficiency depends on the car and fuel type. The Cataclean product is one of the best products, and Lacquer thinner is another product that works efficiently. These cleaners are not very budget-friendly, but they have excellent reviews from customers using the products.

How To Use Lacquer Thinner

To use Lacquer Thinner as a catalytic converter cleaner, you have to dilute the Lacquer Thinner to avoid corrosion of the engine part or gas tank. Use by pouring the right amount of lacquer thinner inside a half-filled gas tank. Take the car for a long drive and alternate speed to increase combustion.

Can I Drive A Car With A Clogged Catalytic Converter

We do not advise driving with a clogged catalytic converter. A car with a clogged catalytic converter might run if the clog is partial. However, the clog will increase the emission rate and cause severe damage to other engine parts. A car with a blocked catalytic converter will not run. If you believe or suspect barring in your car catalytic converter, it is best to take it to a mechanic to determine the extent and the best course of action.

Cleaning Or Replacing A Catalytic Converter Which Is Better

It is best to replace a catalytic converter with clogs than to clean it. Replacement will prevent any problem arising from fuel additives or improper cleaning. However, cleaning is less expensive and the best solution for someone with a low budget.

Conclusion On Lacquer Thinner Catalytic Converter Cleaner

The use of Lacquer Thinner catalytic converter cleaner for cleaning catalytic converters is a confusing one. While most people do not recommend it due to its corrosive nature, it is also a great cleaning agent with the capacity to dissolve carbon emissions inside the cat converter.

Maintaining the catalytic converter working increases the reliability of a vehicle and prolongs its life span. You can always use fuel cleaner additives like Lacquer Thinner and a Catacleaner to burn off debris from the converter. Hopefully, this article has covered all your questions about Lacquer Thinner catalytic converter cleaners.

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