How To Fix A Catalytic Converter

How To Fix A Catalytic Converter: Expert Guide

To fix a catalytic converter without replacing it, use a catalytic converter cleaner or have it professionally cleaned. A catalytic converter cleaner can help dissolve carbon deposits and improve its efficiency.

The catalytic converter plays a crucial role in reducing harmful emissions from vehicles, but over time, it can become clogged or damaged, leading to a decline in performance. If you’re experiencing issues with your catalytic converter, you may be wondering if there’s a way to fix it without the costly expense of a replacement.

Fortunately, there are options available to restore its functionality. We will explore how to effectively fix a catalytic converter without the need for a complete replacement. By following some simple steps, you can potentially save money while ensuring your vehicle remains environmentally-friendly.

Understanding The Role Of The Catalytic Converter

The catalytic converter plays a vital role in controlling vehicle emissions and ensuring a cleaner environment. Understanding how it functions and why it is important can help you make informed decisions when it comes to fixing it. In this section, we will explore the key points concerning the catalytic converter and its significance.

Let’s dive in!

Key Points:

  • The catalytic converter is a crucial component of a vehicle’s exhaust system. It is designed to reduce the harmful pollutants emitted by the engine, such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and hydrocarbons.
  • This device consists of a honeycomb structure made of precious metals like platinum, palladium, and rhodium. These metals act as catalysts, promoting chemical reactions that transform harmful gases into less harmful substances.
  • One of the primary reactions facilitated by the catalytic converter is the conversion of carbon monoxide (co) into carbon dioxide (co2), a less toxic gas. Another important reaction converts nitrogen oxides (nox) into nitrogen (n2) and oxygen (o2), thus reducing the amount of smog-causing pollutants.
  • In addition to reducing harmful emissions, the catalytic converter plays a crucial role in meeting emission standards set by regulatory authorities. These standards aim to protect both the environment and human health.
  • The efficiency of the catalytic converter can decline over time due to various factors. Contamination from engine oil or coolant leaks, exposure to high levels of unburned fuel, or damage from road debris are common causes of a malfunctioning converter.
  • A faulty catalytic converter can lead to increased emissions, decreased fuel efficiency, a decrease in engine performance, and even engine damage if left unaddressed.
  • Fixing a catalytic converter typically involves replacing the entire unit, which can be expensive. However, there are alternative methods available that may help restore its functionality without the need for a complete replacement.
  • Some techniques such as using catalytic converter cleaners, oxygen sensor replacements, or employing fuel additives may improve the converter’s performance to some extent. However, it’s important to note that these methods are not guaranteed to fix severe or irreversible damage.
  • Seeking professional advice from a certified mechanic or exhaust specialist is highly recommended when dealing with catalytic converter issues. They have the expertise and diagnostic tools to assess the situation accurately and determine the most appropriate course of action.
  • Regular vehicle maintenance, proper fuel and oil quality, and responsible driving habits can help extend the life of your catalytic converter and ensure optimal performance.

Understanding the role of the catalytic converter is crucial in addressing any issues that may arise. By grasping its importance and exploring possible options for fixing it, you can make informed decisions and ensure a cleaner and more efficient vehicle.

Remember, seeking professional advice is always a wise choice when dealing with complex automotive concerns.

Common Signs Of A Faulty Catalytic Converter

If you suspect that your catalytic converter is not functioning as it should, there are a few common signs to look out for. Identifying these signs early on can help you address any issues with your catalytic converter before they escalate.

Here are some key indicators that your catalytic converter may be faulty:

  • Smell of rotten eggs: One telltale sign of a failing catalytic converter is the presence of a strong smell resembling rotten eggs. This odor is caused by the breakdown of sulfur compounds in the exhaust gases. If you notice this smell, it is likely an indication of a malfunctioning catalytic converter.
  • Decreased engine performance: A faulty catalytic converter can significantly impact the performance of your engine. You may notice a decrease in power, acceleration, and overall efficiency. This can be attributed to the restricted flow of exhaust gases through the converter, inhibiting your engine’s ability to perform optimally.
  • Illuminated check engine light: An illuminated check engine light is often an early warning sign of catalytic converter issues. Modern cars are equipped with onboard diagnostics systems that monitor the performance of various components, including the catalytic converter. If the system detects a problem, it will trigger the check engine light to alert you.
  • Increased emission levels: A malfunctioning catalytic converter can lead to increased emissions. During a vehicle inspection, if the emission levels are higher than the acceptable limits, it could be a sign of a faulty converter. High emissions not only harm the environment but can also result in a failed inspection or compliance test.
  • Strange rattling noises: Over time, a failing catalytic converter may develop internal damage, resulting in unusual rattling or clanging sounds. These noises are often a result of loose or broken catalyst material inside the converter. If you hear any unusual sounds coming from your exhaust system, it’s worth having your catalytic converter inspected.
  • Reduced fuel efficiency: Another sign of a faulty catalytic converter is reduced fuel efficiency. This occurs when the converter is unable to properly convert harmful pollutants in the exhaust gases, leading to wasted fuel and decreased mileage. If you find yourself visiting the gas station more frequently than usual, it’s a good idea to have your converter checked.
  • Failed emissions test: If your vehicle fails an emissions test, it may be due to a faulty catalytic converter. During an emissions test, the levels of harmful pollutants such as carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxide are measured. A malfunctioning converter can cause these levels to exceed the acceptable limits, resulting in a failed test.

These common signs can help you diagnose potential issues with your catalytic converter. If you notice any of these indicators, it is essential to have your vehicle inspected by a qualified mechanic to determine the exact cause and necessary repairs.

By addressing any problems with your catalytic converter promptly, you can ensure the efficient and eco-friendly operation of your vehicle.

Diagnosing The Issue With Your Catalytic Converter

If you suspect that your catalytic converter is causing problems with your vehicle, it’s important to diagnose the issue before considering a costly replacement. Here are two key methods for diagnosing the issue with your catalytic converter:

Using An Obd-Ii Scanner To Retrieve Error Codes:

  • An obd-ii scanner is a valuable tool for identifying issues with your vehicle’s onboard systems. Here’s how you can use it to diagnose catalytic converter problems:
  • Connect the obd-ii scanner to the vehicle’s diagnostic port. This port can usually be found under the dashboard.
  • Turn on the ignition, but avoid starting the engine. The scanner will power up and display any error codes stored in the vehicle’s computer system.
  • Look for error codes related to the catalytic converter. Common codes include p0420 (catalyst system efficiency below threshold) and p0430 (catalyst system efficiency below threshold bank 2).
  • Note down the error codes and consult a reliable source or a professional technician to interpret them correctly.

Conducting A Visual Inspection For Physical Damage Or Clogging:

  • In addition to error codes, a visual inspection can provide valuable information about the condition of your catalytic converter. Here’s what you should look for:
  • Examine the converter for physical damage, such as dents, cracks, or leaks. Any signs of damage may indicate the need for a replacement.
  • Check for clogging by looking at the exhaust pipe and the heat shields surrounding the converter. A clogged converter may show signs of excessive heat, melting, or discoloration.
  • Inspect the oxygen sensor(s) located upstream and downstream of the catalytic converter. If they are covered in soot or carbon buildup, it may indicate a problem with the converter.

Remember, diagnosing the issue with your catalytic converter is the first step towards finding a solution without necessarily having to replace it. By utilizing an obd-ii scanner and conducting a visual inspection, you can gather valuable information to aid in the repair process.

Cleaning Your Catalytic Converter

Exploring The Benefits Of Using Catalytic Converter Cleaning Solutions

Is your car giving you trouble? Experiencing a decrease in performance or noticing strange odors? You may have a clogged or dirty catalytic converter. Before you rush to replace it and spend a fortune, consider cleaning it first. Cleaning your catalytic converter is a cost-effective solution that can help improve its performance and save you money.

In this section, we will explore the benefits of using catalytic converter cleaning solutions and provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to use them effectively.

Benefits Of Using Catalytic Converter Cleaning Solutions:

  • Enhanced efficiency: A dirty or clogged catalytic converter can hinder the performance of your vehicle by reducing fuel efficiency. By cleaning it, you can restore its functionality and improve your car’s overall performance.
  • Environmental friendly: One of the essential functions of a catalytic converter is to reduce harmful emissions released into the environment. Cleaning it regularly ensures that it continues to function effectively, minimizing your vehicle’s environmental impact.
  • Cost-effective solution: Replacing a catalytic converter can be an expensive endeavor. Cleaning it is a more affordable alternative that can help prolong its lifespan and save you money in the long run.
  • Improved engine lifespan: A clogged catalytic converter can put excessive strain on your engine, leading to premature wear and tear. Regular cleaning prevents such issues and ensures a longer lifespan for your engine.

Step-By-Step Guide On Using A Catalytic Converter Cleaner:

  • Safety first: Park your car in a well-ventilated area, preferably outdoors, to avoid inhaling any harmful fumes. Ensure the engine is cool before proceeding.
  • Locate the catalytic converter: The catalytic converter is usually situated between the engine and the muffler, underneath the car. Refer to your car’s manual if you are unsure.
  • Prepare the cleaning solution: Select a reputable catalytic converter cleaner from a trusted brand. Follow the instructions provided on the product label to prepare the solution correctly.
  • Disconnect the battery: For added safety, disconnect the car’s battery by removing the negative terminal cable. This will prevent any accidental sparks or electrical issues.
  • Spray the cleaner: With the engine off, carefully apply the catalytic converter cleaner to both ends of the converter. Ensure a thorough coating for maximum effectiveness.
  • Soak and wait: Allow the cleaning solution to soak into the converter for the recommended duration mentioned on the product label. This will loosen and dissolve any carbon deposits.
  • Start the engine: After the recommended soaking period, start the engine and let it run at idle for a few minutes. This will help burn off any remaining debris and clean the converter further.
  • Take it for a spin: To fully circulate the cleaning solution throughout the exhaust system, take your car for a short drive. This will facilitate the removal of debris and contaminants.
  • Reconnect the battery: Once the cleaning process is complete, reconnect the car’s battery by reattaching the negative terminal cable.
  • Monitor performance: Observe your car’s performance, paying attention to any improvements in fuel efficiency, engine smoothness, and emission levels. If the issue persists, professional assistance may be required.

Cleaning your catalytic converter can be a straightforward process with significant benefits. By improving efficiency, reducing emissions, and saving you money, it is a worthwhile endeavor for any car owner. Follow the step-by-step guide mentioned above, and you’ll be on your way to a cleaner and more efficient vehicle in no time.

Restoring Efficiency With Catalytic Converter Cleaners

Your car’s catalytic converter plays a crucial role in reducing harmful emissions and keeping the environment clean. However, over time, carbon build-up can reduce its efficiency, leading to increased emissions and decreased performance. While replacing the catalytic converter is the conventional solution, there are alternatives that can restore its efficiency without breaking the bank.

One such option is using catalytic converter cleaners. In this section, we will dive into the working principle of these cleaning compounds and how they remove carbon build-up effectively.

Understanding The Working Principle Of Catalytic Converter Cleaning Compounds

Catalytic converter cleaners are specially formulated products that aim to remove carbon deposits from the internal components of the converter. These compounds contain active ingredients that break down the carbon build-up and restore the converter’s efficiency. Here’s how they work:

  • Chemical reaction: The cleaning compounds undergo a chemical reaction when introduced to the catalytic converter. This reaction helps break down the carbon deposits and convert them into less harmful substances.
  • Oxygen release: Most catalytic converter cleaners release oxygen during the reaction. The released oxygen combines with carbon deposits, oxidizing them and making it easier to remove them from the converter’s surface.
  • Solvent action: The cleaners often contain solvents that work to dissolve carbon build-up. These solvents penetrate deep into the converter, dissolving the deposits and allowing them to be expelled through the exhaust system.
  • Preventive effects: In addition to removing carbon deposits, some catalytic converter cleaners also leave behind a protective coating that helps prevent future build-up. This coating acts as a barrier, reducing the chances of further carbon accumulation.

Catalytic converter cleaners offer a cost-effective and convenient alternative to replacing the entire unit. However, it’s important to follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer and use these cleaners as recommended to achieve the best results. Regular maintenance and occasional use of cleaning compounds can help prolong your catalytic converter’s lifespan and ensure optimal performance.

With a clear understanding of how catalytic converter cleaning compounds work, you can now explore the detailed explanation of how cleaners remove carbon build-up in the following section.

Utilizing Fuel Additives To Improve Catalytic Converter Performance

Discussing The Role Of Fuel Additives In Maximizing The Converter’S Efficiency

Fuel additives can play a crucial role in improving the performance of your catalytic converter without the need for a costly replacement. By understanding how fuel additives work and their impact on the converter’s efficiency, you can make informed choices to maintain optimal converter functionality.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Fuel additives help break down harmful deposits: Over time, carbon deposits can accumulate on the surface of the catalytic converter, inhibiting its ability to convert harmful emissions efficiently. Fuel additives containing detergents and solvents can effectively break down these deposits, allowing the converter to operate at its best.
  • They promote cleaner fuel combustion: By introducing certain additives into your fuel, you can enhance the combustion process within the engine. These additives improve fuel atomization and combustion efficiency, resulting in reduced carbon buildup and less strain on the catalytic converter.
  • Fuel additives reduce harmful emissions: Some additives contain catalysts that actively work to reduce harmful tailpipe emissions such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and hydrocarbons. This helps the catalytic converter perform its job more effectively, ensuring compliance with emission standards.
  • They restore lost performance: Over time, a catalytic converter may lose efficiency due to wear and tear. Fuel additives formulated to revitalize the converter can restore lost performance by rejuvenating the catalyst surface and optimizing its chemical reactions.

Recommendations For Top-Rated Fuel Additives In The Market

With a vast array of fuel additives available, it’s essential to choose one that delivers on performance, quality, and compatibility with your vehicle. Here are some top-rated fuel additives that have garnered positive reviews among car enthusiasts and experts:

  • Stp super concentrated fuel injector cleaner: Effective in removing carbon deposits and deposits in the fuel system, this fuel additive improves fuel economy, throttle response, and overall engine performance.
  • Lucas fuel treatment: Known for its ability to clean and lubricate the entire fuel system, this additive ensures smooth engine performance and helps extend the life of the catalytic converter.
  • Red line complete fuel system cleaner: Designed to clean the entire fuel system, including injectors, valves, ports, and combustion chambers, this fuel additive optimizes engine performance while reducing harmful emissions.
  • Bg 44k fuel system cleaner: Highly regarded for its potent cleaning properties, this additive removes stubborn deposits, maximizes fuel efficiency, and restores lost power and performance.
  • Chevron techron concentrate plus: Offering protection against fuel system deposits and helping restore lost engine power, this fuel additive improves overall combustion efficiency, leading to a healthier catalytic converter.

When using fuel additives to improve catalytic converter performance, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and consider factors such as your vehicle’s age, mileage, and maintenance history. Regular use of high-quality fuel additives can help prolong the life of your catalytic converter and keep it operating at peak efficiency.

Remember, prevention is key when it comes to maintaining a healthy converter and reducing the likelihood of expensive replacements.

Heat Treatment Techniques For Catalytic Converter Repair

Exploring Heat Treatment Techniques To Melt Away Carbon Deposits

Carbon deposits are a common issue that can affect the performance of a catalytic converter. These deposits can build up over time, causing clogs and reducing the efficiency of the converter. While replacing the catalytic converter is often the recommended solution, there are heat treatment techniques that can help to melt away carbon deposits and potentially restore the converter’s functionality.

Here are some key points to consider when exploring heat treatment techniques for catalytic converter repair:

  • Use high temperatures to break down carbon deposits: Heat treatment involves subjecting the catalytic converter to high temperatures, typically through the use of a torch or heat gun. This intense heat helps to melt away the carbon deposits, allowing them to be burned off and removed.
  • Apply heat evenly to prevent damage: When performing heat treatment, it’s important to apply heat evenly to the entire catalytic converter. Uneven heating can lead to thermal shock, causing damage to the converter. Take care to move the heat source across the surface of the converter in a controlled manner.
  • Consider using a heat-soaking method: Heat-soaking is a technique where the catalytic converter is heated slowly and allowed to cool over a period of time. This gradual increase and decrease in temperature can help to break down carbon deposits without causing damage to the converter.
  • Ensure proper ventilation: Heat treatment generates high temperatures and potentially harmful gases. It’s important to perform this technique in a well-ventilated area to avoid exposure to toxic fumes. Open windows or work in an outdoor space to provide sufficient ventilation during the process.
  • Exercise caution and wear protective gear: When working with high temperatures, it’s crucial to prioritize safety. Wear protective gear, such as heat-resistant gloves and goggles, to protect yourself from potential burns or injury. Keep a fire extinguisher nearby as a precautionary measure.

Tips For Performing Heat Treatment Safely And Effectively

Performing heat treatment on a catalytic converter requires precision and careful consideration to ensure safe and effective results. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Start with a clean catalytic converter: Before attempting heat treatment, it’s important to remove any loose debris or excessive carbon deposits from the converter. This ensures that the heat can penetrate through and target the stubborn deposits.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines: Different catalytic converters may have specific recommendations regarding heat treatment techniques. Refer to the manufacturer’s guidelines or reach out to them for advice on the appropriate temperature range and method for your specific converter model.
  • Monitor the temperature closely: Use a temperature gauge or infrared thermometer to monitor the heat applied to the catalytic converter. Stay within the recommended temperature range to avoid damaging the converter or surrounding components.
  • Be patient: Heat treatment may take some time to effectively melt away carbon deposits. Avoid rushing the process and allow sufficient time for the heat to penetrate and break down the deposits.
  • Inspect the converter afterwards: Once the heat treatment is complete, inspect the catalytic converter for any remaining carbon deposits. Use a brush or scraper to remove any remaining residue, ensuring that the converter is clean and free from clogs.

Remember, while heat treatment techniques can be attempted as a last resort for catalytic converter repair, they may not always be successful. If the converter is severely damaged or the carbon deposits are difficult to remove, it may be necessary to replace the catalytic converter for proper functioning.

Welding As A Repair Option For Catalytic Converters

Assessing The Feasibility Of Welding Damaged Or Cracked Catalytic Converters

If you’re facing issues with your catalytic converter, you may be wondering if it’s possible to fix it without having to replace the entire unit. One repair option to consider is welding, which can be a viable solution for catalytic converters that have suffered damage or cracks.

However, it’s important to assess the feasibility of welding before proceeding with this repair method.

Here are some key points to consider when evaluating whether welding is a suitable repair option for your damaged catalytic converter:

  • Extent of damage: The first step is to determine the severity and extent of the damage to your catalytic converter. Welding can be an effective solution for minor cracks or damage. However, if the damage is extensive or the converter is severely corroded, it may be more cost-effective to replace the unit entirely.
  • Location of the damage: The location of the damage plays a significant role in whether welding is a feasible option. If the damage is located in a convenient area that can be easily accessed for welding, it may be a viable repair solution. However, if the damage is in a challenging spot that is difficult to reach or repair, welding may not be a practical choice.
  • Materials compatibility: Catalytic converters are made of various materials, including stainless steel and ceramic substrates. Before considering welding as a repair option, it’s essential to ensure that the welding process and materials used are compatible with the converter’s construction. Using the wrong materials or techniques could potentially cause further damage or compromise the converter’s effectiveness.
  • Regulatory compliance: Catalytic converters play a critical role in reducing emissions and meeting regulatory standards. When considering welding as a repair option, it’s important to ensure that the repaired converter will still comply with local emission regulations. Seek professional advice to ensure that the repair process will not impact the converter’s functionality or regulatory compliance.

Importance Of Seeking Professional Assistance For Welding Repairs

While welding may seem like a simple or cost-effective solution, it’s crucial to recognize the importance of seeking professional assistance when it comes to repairing a catalytic converter through welding methods. Here’s why professional help is essential:

  • Expertise and experience: Welding catalytic converters requires specific knowledge and expertise due to the sensitive nature of these devices. Professionals who specialize in this type of repair have the necessary skills and experience to handle the process correctly. Their expertise ensures that the repair is done effectively and adheres to industry standards.
  • Ensuring safety and reliability: Welding involves working with high temperatures and potentially hazardous materials. By engaging professionals, you can rely on their expertise to ensure that the repair is done safely and that the repaired converter will function reliably. This helps to avoid any potential safety risks or further damage to your vehicle.
  • Preserving warranty and compliance: If your vehicle is under warranty, attempting to repair the catalytic converter yourself or using unauthorized repair methods could void the warranty. By seeking professional assistance, you can maintain the warranty coverage and ensure that any repair work is done in compliance with regulatory standards.

Remember, while welding can be a potential solution for damaged or cracked catalytic converters, it is crucial to assess the feasibility of this repair method and seek professional assistance for best results. Consulting with experts in catalytic converter repair will help ensure the repair is done correctly, safely, and in compliance with industry standards.

Ensuring Long-Term Performance With Regular Maintenance

Regular maintenance is the key to ensuring the long-term performance of your catalytic converter. By following simple routine practices, you can prevent future issues and extend the lifespan of this crucial component in your vehicle. In this section, we will outline some maintenance tips that will help you optimize the performance of your catalytic converter.

Outlining Routine Maintenance Practices To Prevent Future Catalytic Converter Issues:

  • Perform regular engine maintenance: Keep your engine in top condition by following the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule. This includes regular oil changes, air filter replacements, and spark plug inspections. A well-maintained engine will produce fewer emissions and minimize the strain on your catalytic converter.
  • Check for exhaust leaks: Leaks in your vehicle’s exhaust system can lead to inefficiencies and damage to the catalytic converter. Inspect the exhaust system for any signs of leakage, such as hissing sounds or noticeable soot around the joints. Addressing these leaks promptly will help maintain the proper functioning of your catalytic converter.
  • Use the right fuel: Opt for high-quality fuel that meets the specifications recommended by your vehicle manufacturer. Lower-quality fuels may contain contaminants that can build up in the catalytic converter over time, reducing its efficiency. Using the correct fuel will help prevent this buildup and ensure optimal performance.
  • Avoid excessive idling: Extended periods of idling can increase the temperature within the catalytic converter and put extra strain on it. Whenever possible, avoid excessive idling and turn off your engine when waiting for extended periods. This will help prevent overheating and prolong the life of your catalytic converter.
  • Regularly inspect oxygen sensors: The oxygen sensors play a vital role in the proper functioning of your catalytic converter. These sensors monitor the oxygen levels in the exhaust gases and provide feedback to the engine control unit. Ensure that the oxygen sensors are clean and functioning correctly to maintain an optimal air-to-fuel ratio and prevent damage to the catalytic converter.

Tips For Extending The Lifespan Of Your Catalytic Converter:

  • Drive gently: Aggressive driving practices like rapid acceleration and sudden braking can increase the temperature in the exhaust system, putting excessive stress on the catalytic converter. Opt for smooth and steady driving to minimize wear and tear on this component.
  • Avoid using leaded fuel additives: Leaded fuel additives can be extremely harmful to catalytic converters. These additives can coat the catalysts, rendering them ineffective and leading to costly repairs. Always be cautious and avoid any products containing lead that could harm your catalytic converter.
  • Keep a healthy engine coolant system: An overheating engine can significantly impact the performance of your catalytic converter. Regularly check the coolant levels, inspect the cooling system for leaks, and ensure that the radiator fans are working correctly. Maintaining a proper engine coolant system will help prevent overheating and subsequent damage to the catalytic converter.
  • Clean your catalytic converter: Periodically cleaning your catalytic converter can help remove built-up contaminants and restore its efficiency. There are dedicated cleaner products available that can dissolve carbon deposits, allowing the catalysts to function optimally. Consult your vehicle’s manual or a trusted mechanic for guidance on how to safely clean your catalytic converter.

By following these routine maintenance practices and adopting some simple tips, you can ensure the long-term performance and extend the lifespan of your catalytic converter. Remember, a well-maintained converter not only reduces emissions but also helps your vehicle run smoothly and efficiently.


Fixing a catalytic converter without replacing it can be a cost-effective solution for improving its functionality. By using techniques such as cleaning, repairing minor damages, and using additives, you can restore your catalytic converter’s performance and reduce emissions. It is important to note that these methods may not work for severe damage or clogging, and in such cases, replacement may be necessary.

Regular maintenance and inspection of your vehicle’s exhaust system can help identify issues early on and prevent costly repairs. Remember to follow safety precautions while working on your vehicle and consult a professional if you are unsure or uncomfortable with performing the repairs yourself.

By following these tips, you can extend the life of your catalytic converter and contribute to cleaner air quality.


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