What is the Catalytic Converter all about?
The catalytic converter is an emissions related component that is mounted in the exhaust pipe. Its purpose is to superheat unburned particles in the exhaust gases that are expelled from the engine. As the engine runs, the catalytic converter warms up to an operating temperature of 260- 650°C. At this temperature the particles in the ‘dirty’ exhaust are burned and converted into water vapor and carbon dioxide. The catalyst inside is nearly always comprised of precious metals such as platinum, rhodium, or palladium. When the catalyst isn’t able to burn off the unburned hydrocarbons in the exhaust, an unpleasant odor can occur, a rough run or misfire may be felt, or the Check Engine light may illuminate.
Keep in mind:
- Most cars will require the aftermarket Catalytic Converter to be welded to the exhaust pipes. Mobile mechanics can only do this service if you have a direct fit catalytic converter bought from a dealer.
- When replacing the catalytic converter, it may be necessary to replace oxygen sensors as well.
- Catalytic converter symptoms are often similar to other more straightforward issues. Get the Check Engine light diagnosed anytime it illuminates.
How it’s done:
- The vehicle is raised and supported on jack stands
- The defective catalytic converter is removed
- The new catalytic converter is installed and the vehicle is started to check for any leaks
- The vehicle is lowered off the jack stands
- The vehicle is road tested for proper operation
If you are consistently taking short trips with your vehicle, the catalytic converter may not be getting hot enough to completely burn away the hydrocarbons. To prevent the catalytic converter from getting clogged, take your vehicle for the occasional drive on the highway for 15 minutes. This allows the exhaust to sufficiently heat up and burn off any deposits in the catalytic converter.
What common symptoms indicate you may need to replace the Catalytic Converter?
- Check engine light is on or flashing
- Car has little or no power
- Smell of rotten eggs inside the car or out of the exhaust
- Poor fuel economy
- Backfiring and rough running
How important is this service?
If the catalytic converter isn’t operating efficiently, the check engine light will come on and your engine can begin to lose performance. If the catalytic converter becomes plugged, the engine light will begin to flash and your engine may stall or no longer start. In extreme cases where the converter is plugged, the excess back pressure created can actually cause internal engine damage. If you are experiencing symptoms related to catalytic converter failure, get it checked soon.