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What You Should Know About Catalytic Converters


Catalytic converters have been required on vehicles as standard equipment for many years now. They were designed to cut down on the pollution caused by the growing number of cars that were being driven each year. In many countries the exhaust systems on cars are tested to make sure the catalytic converter is actually doing its job.
Here are some facts and other information that everyone should know about catalytic converters:

How do catalytic converters work?

Catalytic converters are a simple device that does a very complicated set of chemical reactions inside of it. In layman’s terms they chemically convert the bad gases that your engine produces and turn them into more environmentally friendly gases. A catalytic converter looks like a smaller muffler and is placed on the exhaust line somewhere before the actual muffler.

When did they first become mandatory in countries such as the USA?

Catalytic converters first became standard equipment on vehicles produced in the USA way back in the 1970’s. It was not until the clean air act of 1993 that they actually became mandatory on all vehicles. Most progressive countries these days require both catalytic converter use and strict emissions testing.

What are the two ways that problematic catalytic converters affect driving?

1. They can become plugged up – when a catalytic converter gets plugged up it can seriously affect how your vehicles engine runs and this happens a lot more than people think. It can affect the engine so much that it may not even run. Typical signs of a plugged up catalytic converter include increasingly poor fuel efficiency, severe hesitation when trying to accelerate, failure to start even though the engine is turning over and a failed emissions test.
2. Defective catalytic converters – If you fail an emissions test and you find out your catalytic converter is not plugged up it means that it is time to replace your catalytic converter. Sometimes when a catalytic converter goes bad it gives off a very foul odor that many people say smells like rotten eggs. Bad catalytic converters will also emit a visible fuel vapor out of the muffler and also most likely will trigger your check engine light to come on.
Filter Inside Catalytic Converter

Catalytic converters usually do not fail on their own

If your catalytic converter needs to be replaced you would be smart to look for a root cause other than the converter itself because they rarely if ever go bad. They are a part that is specifically designed to last the life of your vehicle. If you don’t find the root cause of the failure it’s a very expensive part that you will end up replacing again shortly.

How did catalytic converters change the chemical makeup of gas in the world?

Many people think that leaded gasolines were abolished because the lead in them was harmful to the environment but that is hardly the case and only a small part of the reason. When catalytic converters were first being put on cars it was quickly found out that the lead in gasoline would ruin them. With chemical converters soon to become mandatory items on vehicles it forced petrochemical companies to come up with a viable alternative and that viable alternative became unleaded gasoline.

Why is it important to drive your car for a little while before taking it in for an emissions test?

Most people do not realize that in order for catalytic converters to work they must be at a very high temperature. Usually this temperature falls between 5501600 degrees Fahrenheit with the ideal temperature being somewhere near the 860 degree mark on most units. So if you take a 1 min drive to your local inspection station your catalytic converter may not heat up enough to work properly and then you will fail the inspection.
There you have it. Now you should know a lot more useful information and facts about catalytic converters than you did before you started reading this article. Make sure if you see any of the signs that your catalytic converter is not operating properly you get your vehicle to the trusted auto shop right away so you don’t get stuck someplace or use up an unusual amount of gas.