In an age where emissions laws and regulations are getting stricter, it’s becoming a bigger headache for anyone who likes to modify and tune their cars. Most car enthusiasts know that a standard downpipe is equipped with a restrictive catalytic converter. While cats are obviously instrumental in keeping our air clean and breathable, they are no friend of the high-performance car when you want it to run.
It is for this reason that many people interested in tuning a car often change parts of the exhaust system to make it as unrestricted as possible. This is usually done by changing the downpipe to a straight down tube or modifying the standard tube by “crushing” or “gutting” the original catalytic converter from the OEM part.
While this is great for performance gains, it can get you into trouble with authorities and inspections as it is the law that you have a catalytic converter in your vehicle in order to meet strict standards and regulations.
However, there are a growing number of car owners who are avoiding fines and penalties by using a fake or dummy catalytic converter.
What is a fake catalytic converter?
A fool catalytic converter it is a special section of straight tube with a “decorative” casing that is intended to look like there is a cat inside the tube. These are intended to mislead anyone doing a visual inspection of the vehicle, whether it’s at a test center or a policeman on the side of the road who has pulled you over.
In some US locations, if you are caught with an unplugged pipe, you could face fines of up to $2,750 and your car could be impounded.
This is where a fake cat comes in handy. You get all the performance benefits, but you’re decreasing the penalty risk.
The obvious difference between a dummy cat and a real cat is that these products do not perform the function of cleaning the exhaust of a catalytic converter in anyway.
How can you tell that a catalytic converter is real?
The only real way to prove a catalytic converter is true or false is through emissions or “sniffer” testing. There is no way for a policeman on the side of the road to know if you have a fake or real catalytic converter installed in your vehicle.
People in the know can usually tell if a car is a straight exhaust by the sound, but it would be impossible to prove the fact without the proper test equipment. (If your state has annual emissions and vehicle inspection, you may need help from a tuner to ensure you pass)
Where can you buy a dummy or fake catalytic converter?
One of the most popular dummy catalytic converters is known as all flow test tubes, which can usually be picked up for around $50. That’s pretty cheap when you consider how much a real catalytic converter costs
You can find all flow tubes here
There is also another option from a company called ProFlow who also produce these types of exhaust modifications.
Can you gut your existing cat?
The simplest and cheapest way to remove the catalytic converter is to simply gut the existing pipe. To do this, place the car on a lift or stand or however you prefer to get under it and unlock the converter.
After removing the converter, the catalyst will look like honeycomb from the inside. It is solid and difficult to remove, but using a crowbar as a chisel and a hammer, you can break it.
It can be a slow process to remove all of this, but the process can be aided by using a drill with a long drill bit to start weakening the very tough honeycomb structure. Once all the cats are removed, replace the empty converter shell and your car is good to go.
Warning : If you gut it and don’t get all the stuff out, it will re-enter your intake through the EGR valve and ruin your engine by putting little bits in your cylinders and oil.
Fake Catalytic Converter – Good or Bad Idea?
In my opinion, dummy cats are an inexpensive way to reduce the chances of a fine/penalty/failure due to visual inspection, especially given their low cost.
It should be noted, though, that if you run a car without a catalytic converter, it will fail a more stringent emission test. In these cases, the best thing is to bring your car for testing with cats returned to the car, either the original cat, or alternatively, you can use a high flow catalytic converter which is a good compromise between legality and performance benefit.