Did you know that all cars today have one or more catalytic converters, regardless of make and manufacturer? They are a part of the emission control system, which reduces the amount of harmful pollutants that go into the atmosphere. The catalytic converter is a simple and reliable device that transforms toxic and environmentally unfriendly gases into less harmful ones. Although catalytic converters should last as long as a car in theory, unfavorable running conditions may cause damage to it. In this article, we will learn how the catalytic converter works and how to tell if you have a bad one.
What does the catalytic converter do?
A cutaway of any catalytic converter would reveal fine ceramic or metallic mesh inside it that looks like a honeycomb. We call this core or substrate, and its purpose is to carry the catalyst. This is a thin layer of chemicals that trigger a special reaction, which converts pollutants and toxic gases into less harmful ones. Because the catalyst causes and accelerates chemical reactions without participating in them, the catalytic converter should last as long as a car. All this is inside a metal casing, which is nothing more than an elongated metal cylindrical container.
What can cause damage to the catalytic converter?
Despite its self-sustained nature, there are certain situations in which the catalytic converter can get damaged. This includes unfavorable driving habits that involve a lot of short drives, which can clog up the converter. Engine related issues, such as running rich or high oil consumption, may have the same effect. However, things like misfires and leaking fuel injectors are far more dangerous and can permanently destroy the catalytic core. Any significant issue with catalytic converter performance will trigger a check engine light with a corresponding error code. Other symptoms that may reveal a bad catalytic converter include rattling under acceleration and failed emission tests.
Can I replace it myself?
When determining if the catalytic converter is bad, it is important to rule out any other possible causes. This is because things like a faulty oxygen sensor or leaking exhaust gaskets may cause similar symptoms. Removing the catalytic converter itself is quite easy, as there are only several bolts that hold it in place. However, access can be troublesome because of the limited space and various components in the way. Depending on the vehicle, this may be underneath the vehicle or hidden inside the engine bay. All this requires various special tools and equipment, together with a fair amount of skill.
How important is this service?
As we have explained in this article, diagnosing and replacing a bad catalytic converter can be quite difficult. In case you don’t have the right tools or don’t feel up to the job, consider hiring a professional. At FixMyCar, we have certified and seasoned technicians that can come to your home and solve all catalytic converter related issues. This will ensure that all important components are checked and your car is ready to hit the road.