Informational Guide

Can A Car Run Without A Catalytic Converter?

Can a car run without a catalytic converter? You might be surprised to find out what happens if your catalytic converter stops working.

The catalytic converter is one of the main automotive parts of a vehicle. It is made to reduce emissions and is necessary for operation, but can a car run without a catalytic converter?  

We discuss why the catalytic converter is important and what happens if you run a car without it.  

The catalytic converter is a vital part of the vehicle’s exhaust system. The role of the catalytic converter is to change the harmful exhaust gases into something less damaging to the environment. It takes the nitric oxide, hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, and nitrogen dioxide and converts them into water vapor and carbon dioxide.  

The catalytic converter doesn’t just reduce emissions and keep pollution lower, but it also increases the engine lifespan. You also need the catalytic converter to pass an emissions test if your location requires one. If the car didn’t have a catalytic converter, many more toxins would be pumped into our atmosphere.  

man holding CO2 sign

Can A Car Run Without A Catalytic Converter? 

Can I run my car without a catalytic converter? The technical answer is yes; your car will run without a catalytic converter. However, the more important questions include, is it safe to drive a car without a catalytic converter, or is driving without a catalytic converter illegal? 

Tampering with your catalytic converter is illegal and could lead to a hefty fine, especially in strict states, such as California. Removing this vital component can also cause the Check Engine Light to illuminate. Furthermore, the vehicle will fail emissions testing, making it illegal to drive in many states.  

How about when something is wrong with the converter? Can your car run without a catalytic converter that’s working correctly? If you have a clogged catalytic converter, the performance will be severely impacted, resulting in a loss of power and decreased fuel economy. You will want to learn how to unclog a catalytic converter or have it replaced immediately.  

How Long Can You Drive Without A Catalytic Converter? 

Can you run a car without a catalytic converter? You can drive the vehicle without the catalytic converter, but it’s not the best option. Driving without the converter isn’t going to cause any damage to the vehicle immediately.

However, it is illegal and could lead to an expensive fine. Furthermore, you are allowing more pollutants to enter the atmosphere and harm our environment. When the catalytic converter is removed, the car makes a distinctive sound that you won’t miss.  

mechanic removing a bolt

Why Do People Remove Catalytic Converters? 

Horsepower Issues 

When the catalytic converter is removed, the car has more power. The converter reduces the power by producing back pressure in the motor. As the gases are allowed to escape freely, the engine is free to operate at optimal levels.  

Exhaust Sounds Impact 

The exhaust tone is muffled with the catalytic converter in place. Removing it allows for a raw exhaust note that some people prefer, while others simply find it annoying and loud.  

Higher Engine Temperatures

The catalytic converter creates more of a load on the engine, causing the motor to work harder. This extra work leads to a higher engine temperature. Removing it helps the engine run cooler.  

Better Mileage Issue 

Because the catalytic converter increases engine pressure, fuel efficiency is reduced. When it is removed, the engine runs better, allowing for improved fuel economy.  

Scrap Metal 

Believe it or not, stolen catalytic converters are a popular thing. Many recyclers will pay $50 to $200 for the metals in the catalytic converter, which is why it is stolen so often.  

People Also Ask (FAQs)

Can I replace my catalytic converter with a straight pipe? 

The only time you would put a straight pipe on your vehicle in place of the catalytic converter is if you are attempting to see if it needs to be replaced. By putting the straight pipe on, you can tell if the catalytic converter has failed.  

How much horsepower does removing a catalytic converter add? 

Removing the catalytic converter will increase engine performance, just like many modifications would. You might see a 15-percent increase with the converter off, but it isn’t worth the fines you will face. 

How hard is it to remove a catalytic converter? 

The reason people go after catalytic converters is because they are so easy to remove. Within two minutes, a wrench can remove bolted-on converters, or a reciprocating saw will take off one that is welded in place.   

How does a car sound without a catalytic converter? 

It’s impossible to miss the sound of a vehicle without a catalytic converter. Once the converter is off, the car makes an unmistakable exhaust note that is loud and overpowering.  


Can my car run without a catalytic converter? Absolutely, but it shouldn't. This configuration will pollute the environment more and cause an annoying sound that will upset your neighbors. Instead, keep your catalytic converter where it is, doing the job it was intended to perform.