Will Cataclean clear check engine light? It may sound ridiculous, but you should check this out.
In 2020, an estimated 287.3 million registered vehicles in the US alone. Most of these vehicles are equipped with catalytic converters to help them meet emissions guidelines. Emissions guidelines may vary, but every state will have its own (often strict) set of rules and regulations.
Your vehicle’s catalytic converter functions to convert harmful pollutants into better gas for a more eco-friendly environment. This conversion normally occurs when the exhaust gases come into contact with the metals inside a catalytic converter.
A catalytic converter must function efficiently for your car to meet these emission guidelines because car parts need to be free of carbon buildup. So, what if something goes wrong with the converter with the evidence of the check engine light coming on?
What is Cataclean?
Cataclean is a fuel and exhaust system cleaner. It mixes three solvents, xylene, propanol, and acetone. Cataclean is a gas tank additive that reduces carbon buildup inside your vehicle’s catalytic converter and makes the converter run at higher temperatures. This helps in burning off soot from the catalytic lattice.
Cataclean doesn’t only unclog your catalytic converter. It has a unique formula that also cleans other vital parts of your fuel and exhaust system, including the oxygen sensors, fuel injectors, and the cylinder head. It is put into the tank when it is almost empty, and the tank is then filled up with gasoline.
Although the formula is poured into your vehicle’s gas tank, it doesn’t alter the fuel composition. In fact, there are special formulas designed for whatever type of engine you have. This means it can be used in every vehicle, from an R56 mini cooper to a Chevrolet Silverado 3500.
The manufacturers boast that Cataclean can lower hydrocarbon carbon emissions by up to half. This formula is also legal in all fifty states. The formula itself is a unique combination of hydrocarbons and known fuel constituents.
Some of the components used have been scientifically proven to affect the fuel combustion process positively. Others work before combustion to remove any contaminants that have built up inside.
Even though the manufacturers made you think that Cataclean is the end of all your problems, cataclean can also cause their own common problems. But fret not; these problems are rare.
What Causes a Check Engine Light?
To know if cataclean will clear the check engine light, you’ll need to understand why the light comes on in the first place. 
More often than not, when the check engine warning lights up, the cause is usually one of the following:
- Catalytic Converter
This is part of your car’s exhaust system, and if you notice a rotten egg smell along with the check engine light, this may be the problem.
- Gas Cap
The check engine warning will come on if your gas cap is loose, cracked, or with a broken seal.
- Mass Airflow Sensor
This sensor measures the air in your engine to ensure the right amount mixes with fuel. If this sensor should fail, a signal will be sent to the onboard computer, hinting at problems with the air/fuel mixture in the engines.
- Oxygen Sensor
This sensor measures how much-unburned oxygen is in your vehicle’s exhaust. If there is a deficiency or too much oxygen, it could damage other engine parts. If this sensor no longer works as it should, it could very well be the cause of the check engine light coming on in your car.
- Worn spark plugs or plug wires will result in a check engine warning.
Will Cataclean Clear Check Engine Light?
Code P0420 is “Catalyst System Efficiency Below Threshold (Bank 1).” This code simply means that your car’s computer has identified underperformance from the Bank 1 catalytic converter. Bank 1 is the engine that holds the number one cylinder. Bank 2 is on the opposite side of the engine.
The error code P0420 on any car model will not clear itself. So you’ll have to either identify the culprit and fix it or clear the error code with a scanning machine for the code to disappear. A faulty catalytic converter is the most likely cause of a P0420 trouble code.
Causes of this error code include:
- A faulty oxygen sensor
- Circuit problems, such as damaged wiring and loose connections
- An exhaust leak
- Computer issues (e.g., software in need of an update)
- A failed catalytic converter
You may notice the following symptoms if you drive a vehicle with a P0420 trouble code:
- An illuminated Check Engine Light
- A failed emissions test
If you erase the error code with a scan tool without detecting and fixing the root cause, it will be detrimental to your vehicle. It’ll only erase the code from your car memory at that particular moment. After some time, the code will most likely reappear again.
How Long Does Cataclean Take to Work?
A whole bottle of Cataclean is r for 15 liters of fuel, approximately a quarter of a tank. So if you have half a tank left in your car, you can use two bottles.
It takes around 15-30 minutes to drive for a cataclean to circulate to every necessary component of the vehicle to perform its operation after pouring the cleaning product into the gas tank.
Related: Best Catalytic Converter Cleaner
What Happens When Catalytic Converter Doesn’t Run Properly?
When the catalytic converter doesn’t run properly, many things can go wrong with your vehicle. Just a few of these include:
- Reduced horsepower from excessive carbon buildup
- Decreased fuel economy
- More carbon emissions are released
- The vehicle begins to make a louder sound
- The exhaust system may release a rotten egg smell
Sometimes a vehicle can break down from the side effects of an improperly running catalytic converter. However, a lot of what does (or doesn’t) happen on how long the problem has persisted.
What Causes Problems with Catalytic Converters?
Creating less harmful emissions will naturally cause wear and tear on your catalytic converter. However, the buildup of carbons is part of the natural process, which means your vehicle is working properly.
When too much carbon builds up, the catalytic converter can no longer run as efficiently. As a result, it will end up causing an air-to-fuel ratio that is less than optimal. This is called “running rich” because not all the fuel being burned is used to run your vehicle. 
Over time, the catalytic converter can also become worn. This occurs with all vehicle parts and isn’t something Cataclean can fix. However, using Cataclean as a preventative measure will help extend your catalytic converter’s lifespan.
How to Use Cataclean to Clear Emissions
But what is the right way how to use Cataclean? How does it help a catalytic converter do its job? Using Cataclean is so easy, and anyone can do it. You don’t need mechanical knowledge. Just follow the steps listed below.
Step 1: Open the bottle by removing the seal. Next, put all of the bottle’s contents into your fuel tank.
Step 2: Drive your vehicle for 15 minutes to allow the Cataclean to get into every part of the vehicle.
Step 3: If you have error codes on your onboard computer (OBDII), you can clear them after driving the vehicle.
Step 4: Fill up your gas tank. I recommend you fill it out to at least three-quarters full.
Step 5: If there were error codes, drive your vehicle for at least 50 miles to reset the OBDII
Read Next: Catalytic Converter Scrap Price
Catclean can clear check engine light as long as the catalytic converters cause the underlying issue. This is because cataclean is specially formulated to clean the converters and help boost other systems like the exhaust and fuel injectors.