The catalytic converter is a canister made of precious metals that is located near the engine and is a part of the vehicle’s exhaust system. The precious metals it contains like palladium and platinum help facilitate several chemical reactions when raw exhaust arrives from the engine. These chemical reactions help clean the exhaust of carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, and hydrocarbons, which are toxic to the environment and to humans. The resulting clean exhaust is then sent through the rest of the exhaust system where it is eventually safely discarded out the exhaust tailpipe. In doing this, your catalytic converter controls the amount of emissions your vehicle produces and is the main component that allows your vehicle to pass emissions testing.
Signs of a failing catalytic converter
- Failed emissions test – This is the first and more obvious sign to notice that something is wrong with your catalytic converter. Since it is responsible for cleaning and reducing your emissions, a bad catalytic converter will produce a trouble code when undergoing emissions testing, resulting in an automatic fail.
- Check engine light illuminates – Your exhaust system contains O2 sensors on both sides of your catalytic converter. When your catalytic converter is functioning properly, the O2 sensors will have two different readings, since one is reading the unfiltered exhaust and the other is reading the exhaust after it has been filtered. If the two O2 sensor readings are roughly the same, this means that your catalytic converter isn’t doing a very good job at filtering, triggering the check engine light.
- Bad engine smell – Gasoline contains sulfur, which is filtered out by your catalytic converter when working properly. If you begin to smell sulfur coming from your exhaust, it means that your catalytic converter is not filtering properly.
- Low engine power – In certain cases, the catalytic converter may get clogged up and create an exhaust restriction, reducing your engine’s power output. Continuing to drive with an exhaust restriction can eventually result in your engine not being able to run, so get your catalytic converter replaced as soon as you notice this happening.
- Rattling noise from under vehicle – A failing or rusted out catalytic converter can cause some of its internal parts to come loose from inside the metal casing, resulting in a rattling noise that can be heard while the engine is running. Get your catalytic converter replaced as soon as you hear a rattling noise from it to prevent other more costly complications in your exhaust system.
Catalytic converter maintenance
If you notice any of the above signs, get your catalytic converter inspected by a car care professional right away. Most catalytic converter issues are caused by issues with engine components, such as a misfiring spark plug, faulty fuel injector, or bad ignition coil. Therefore, when your technician diagnoses an issue with your catalytic converter, expect additional maintenance and repair to be needed on your engine parts.
The best way to get maintenance done on your catalytic converter is to book your appointment through CarAdvise. CarAdvise makes car care simple and guarantees that you’ll pay less than the retail shop price on all car maintenance services.