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Can A Truck Run Without A Catalytic Converter? GUIDE

Can A Truck Run Without A Catalytic Converter? GUIDE

These converters are mainly used in the exhaust system of automobiles, but most people have no idea that they’re used on other things such as electrical generators, mining equipment, motorcycles, and even ships. It’s also a lesser-known fact that catalytic converters are used on wood stoves, essentially to control the emissions from the gasses they can emit.

Your truck will run without a catalytic converter.  However, it’s not a good idea to do so. Its job is to convert any toxic gases or pollutants found in exhaust gas from an internal combustion engine into a less toxic pollutant, so running a truck without a catalytic converter is dangerous to your health and the environment.

To learn more about why your truck can run without a catalytic converter but why you shouldn’t run it without one, stick around and keep reading.

Do You Need a Catalytic Converter

Running a truck without a catalytic converter will eventually cause irreparable damage to your vehicle. It’s also illegal to remove catalytic converters. There are of course ways to get around this law, but it’s in place because having catalytic converters are overall better for everyone.

  • While your truck might run fine for a little bit without a catalytic converter, it will slowly decline in function over time.
  • Eventually, running a truck without a catalytic converter will do permanent damage.
  • Not to mention, it’s essentially the only thing standing between you and the toxic fumes produced by your car.

Whether you’ve purchased a used truck that doesn’t have a catalytic converter or the catalytic converter on your truck no longer works, you’ll need to have a new one installed

The design of a catalytic converter is usually that of a sealed metal unit. So, it’s safe to say that once it fails, they have to be replaced. They can be secured in one of two ways. They can either be bolted at the flanges, or they could even be directly welded into the exhaust system’s pipes. Catalytic converters are appropriate for petrol or diesel engines, and their main purpose is to minimize air pollution.

Due to this fact, it’s important to make sure that the converter is being installed properly and by a mechanical professional. If you are mechanically inclined, you could install the converter yourself, but you want to ensure that you’re doing it correctly.

Here’s a video explaining what a catalytic converter does, with more info below:

Installing a New Catalytic Converter

It generally takes about one to two hours to replace a catalytic converter, and if you have it professionally installed, you should know that replacement of this equipment is not necessarily cheap.

The average cost of one of these converters to be repaired could be anywhere between $1,700 and $1,800. That price range does, however, include parts and labor, and the range could go higher or lower on either end.

It depends on your vehicle. The cost for the converter itself could go as high as $2250. You may be wondering if you can purchase a used catalytic converter to cut down on costs.

The answer to that question is no. Installing any used converter may be illegal in some states. For example, California is one of them so, if you are experiencing any issues with the catalytic converter, you want to check the rules and regulations that your state may have when it comes to installing and replacing an existing converter.

Here’s a quick video showing how to replace a catalytic converter, with steps below:

You may also be curious as to how this piece of equipment is replaced and what the steps are to do so. Here are the steps that you should be aware of:

  • Make sure that you park in a level area. Make sure to jack up your vehicle and have it properly supported on stands
  • Give your truck’ exhaust some time to cool down, especially if you just jacked up your car after driving it
  • Go ahead and locate the catalytic converter. To do this, you want to look underneath your truck and find the location of the exhaust system tubes at their connection points. The converter itself will be in the shape of a rectangular or sometimes a rounded box that will be seated in the middle of the exhaust system.
  • Now you want to remove the oxygen sensor from the converter. Keep in mind that more modern catalytic converters have more than one oxygen sensor. If you are unsure if yours does, always consult your owner’s manual or a mechanical professional. You can use a socket and ratchet to disconnect these.
  • If you experience tight bolting, use penetrating oil to alleviate any rust or corrosion.
  • Remember to remove bolts from back to front. Just to be clear, you will be removing bolts from the vehicle’s back end, working your way towards the front.
  • If your converter has been welded in, just cut the converter out. If you are not comfortable doing so, you probably want to consult with a mechanic, as many will use a certain type of saw to cut the converter from the pipes connected to it. Remember, this is not abnormal, as this is one of the two ways that a catalytic converter can be installed underneath the vehicle.

Now you’re prepared to start your install. The install is fairly simple, and you’ll just need to know a few simple things to complete this project.

  • Read any instructions that come with the parts that you buy. Don’t ever skip over instructions, as you don’t want to have to work backward to figure out if you missed anything.
  • Inspect the equipment and insert the gaskets that came with your new converter
  • Place the catalytic converter back where you found it. Here’s a quick tip; make sure that the converter is facing the right direction and always make sure that the correct side is facing downward.
  • Use your fingers to tighten the nuts to the bolts. Using your fingers to tighten the nuts versus a power tool right away makes it significantly easier to align them correctly.
  • Once you have confirmed, the alignment goes ahead and tightens the bolts down using a wrench that fits.
  • Don’t forget that you have the option to weld the converter in place instead of bolting it down. Ensure that you are putting the oxygen sensors back into place and then double-check your work for accuracy.

There you have it; the steps probably weren’t as difficult as you would’ve thought. However, suppose you are not mechanically inclined and don’t feel comfortable doing certain steps throughout the process or have the proper tools.

In that case, you may benefit greatly from having a licensed mechanic do the job for you. Overall, you want to make sure that you are having the job done safely, efficiently, and correctly the first time.

How To Tell If Your Truck Needs A New Catalytic Converter?

You want to pay attention to a few signs when determining if your vehicle might need a new catalytic converter. Pay attention to whether or not:

  • Your truck refuses to start
  • Your truck fails an emissions test
  • The check engine light comes on
  • Your vehicle refuses to accelerate when you step on the gas pedal
  • The fuel efficiency drops suddenly

Catalytic converters are generally good for the overall life of your vehicle. Occasionally these pieces of equipment will fail, and that’s why it’s important to learn how to troubleshoot trouble a catalytic converter issue or to be able to identify when you need to have yours replaced. The main tell-tale sign for when you should consider having your catalytic converter replaced is if you are noticing a decrease in engine performance.

If a converter fails, it will probably affect the vehicle’s engine since it’s technically part of its exhaust system. If the converter experiences any blockage, it will restrict the flow of any exhaust throughout your vehicle.

This is what causes a decrease in your car’s ability to accelerate, produce power, and have an efficient fuel economy. These same issues will also happen if the converter is damaged at any point, such as a crack or a leak.

  • Pay attention to your check engine light.
  • If your check engine light appears, be mindful that your catalytic converter could be why, although there are various contributing factors to why your check engine light may have come on.
  • The sense of sound works just as efficiently as the sense of sight.
  • Pay attention to any noises that may be coming from your vehicle, such as rattling sounds.
  • This particular type of sound could be caused by issues with your catalytic converter.

When this piece of equipment is damaged or becomes old and worn and needs to be replaced, it may start to produce abnormal sounds.

The converters’ lifespan could be cut short due to different fuel mixtures, or the mesh around the converter could collapse or completely come apart. This is why you should probably keep track of the maintenance schedule for the catalytic converter of your truck.

The main point of the converter is to help the environment, and that’s why they are a necessary part of emissions tests that are checked over.

Catalytic converters do fail and wear out over time, so needing a replacement is not abnormal. Just make sure that you know how to recognize when a replacement is necessary.

Difference Between Having and Not Having a Catalytic Converter

There are a few things that you should know about driving with or without a catalytic converter. If someone is considering removing it, it would mainly be because they would notice a significant increase in the horsepower of the vehicle. You may have more fuel options, notice better gas mileage, and have a lower temperature in your engine’s operations. 

However, although there are upsides to removing a catalytic converter, you need to know the drawbacks of doing so. First, removing a catalytic converter is completely illegal throughout the United States.

So, if you are a U.S. driver, removing it and driving isn’t an option. Removing it releases toxic fumes throughout the atmosphere, and you would immediately fail an emissions test.

Depending on where you live, you may already know that a successful emissions test is mandatory. For some vehicles or most, removing this converter will trigger a fault code in your vehicle, which will, in turn, make your check engine light turn on.

It will also produce a loud and irritating noise. For truck owners or anyone who likes to drive off-road, you’ll probably experience a loss in your low-end torque as well.

Final Takeaways

Keep all of these things in mind when trying to assess if your truck needs a new catalytic converter or if you’re thinking of removing it for some reason.

Stay on top of what to look for when you’re trying to determine if your truck needs a new converter. Pay attention to whether or not your engine’s performance is somewhat sluggish or if your truck’s ability to accelerate has significantly reduced.

Pay attention to visual and auditory signs such as rattling noises or a dark color of any exhaust smoke. Suppose you smell anything like sulfur which would resemble the smell of rotten eggs from the exhaust system. In that case, this could also be a concerning factor that may mean that your catalytic converter needs to be replaced.

Any excessive heat from underneath your vehicle is another sign of the potential need for replacement. If your vehicle is experiencing any of these issues, especially for a prolonged period, try not to wait too long before addressing the issue.

Yes, you can technically drive your truck without a catalytic converter, but if you are a driver in the United States, you legally cannot drive without one.

Driving with a bad converter will produce higher emissions than a state would allow, and you would automatically fail an emissions test. When in doubt, always follow up with a mechanical professional.

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