I own a Chevrolet Camaro My wife recently used the...

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Jul 01, 1994

Dear Tom and Ray:

I own a 1978 Chevrolet Camaro. My wife recently used the car to drop off newspapers at the local recycling center. While she was dumping the old newspapers, one of her plastic grocery bags blew under the car and immediately stuck to the bottom of the catalytic converter. I jacked up the car and tried to remove the bag, but it was fused to the converter. I tried scraping it off to no avail. I was hoping it would melt off by itself, but it has been several weeks now and I can still smell plastic burning. Is there any way to remove the remnants of this plastic bag that is stuck to my converter?

TOM: It's not easy, Robert. But rest assured, you're not alone. This is a very common phenomenon.

RAY: Plastic bags are everywhere these days. And as soon as the hot converter, which is low to the ground, touches one of these plastic grocery bags, they fuse together. It's like touching the inside of your lower lip to the metal shelf in your freezer.......fwaaappp!

TOM: The good news is that it's relatively harmless...at least to the car. I'm sure the smoldering plastic fumes aren't doing your brain cells any good, but we've never seen a plastic bag actually ignite and catch fire under these conditions. They just melt with a half life of three to four weeks.

RAY: And there's not much you can do to speed up the process. We sometimes use a chisel and tap it very lightly to scrape off the plastic. But you have to be very careful not to damage the converter. As annoying as you find the melting plastic, wouldn't it frost your shorts even more to have to pay $400 for a new converter, too?

TOM: The other option is to try sanding it lightly. You may be able to sand most of the bag off that way. If not, you'll just have to wait until it burns itself off.

RAY: And while you're waiting, you can start lobbying all your neighbors to ask for paper bags at the grocery check out. At least when they blow away, you have a CHANCE of catching them.

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