There is a catalytic converter in all modern vehicle exhaust systems. A catalytic converter will last for ten years or more on a routine basis if well maintained. The truth, however, is that they can become polluted, clogged, overheated, or physically damaged, resulting in slow engine output. Car engines need a lot of oxygen, which means that less air will enter the system if the exhaust flow is limited and efficiency suffers. If the engine responds sluggishly or stops after running for a while, it could trigger a clogged converter.
Because of excessive quantities of unburned gas caused by a misfiring spark plug or a leaky exhaust valve, catalytic converters may overheat. A malfunctioning oxygen sensor can also cause overheating. It may also be damaged by road debris or driving over a curb, like other parts of the exhaust system.
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How a Catalytic Converter Works
The toxic gases created by the car’s engine pass through a catalytic converter after a vehicle is started. A honeycomb pattern composed of precious metals such as platinum, palladium, and rhodium consists of the catalytic converter’s internal structure.
The catalytic converter is usually built to operate at a high temperature of around 800 ° F. A chemical reaction occurs, resulting in safer components, such as oxygen, water, and carbon dioxide, coming from your mufflers.
Symptoms of a Bad Catalytic Converter
A vital component of the vehicle’s emissions system is the catalytic converter, and they are generally built to last the lifetime of the car, but if they get clogged, they will fail. When this occurs, as is always the case with older vehicles, the exhaust gases of the car can not get through the muffler.
It means that those gases can not get out of the car’s vehicle and can not vent through the front, consequently causing the engine to die because there is no suitable fuel and air mixture. This makes the catalytic converter not do its job correctly.
The only question is, how do you search for a bad catalytic converter. The symptoms of a clogged catalytic converter are highlighted below;
- Sluggish Engine Performance: If a catalytic converter develops any issues, it may affect the vehicle’s engine since it’s installed within the car’s exhaust system. If the converter gets blocked or clogged, it will restrict the exhaust flow, which will cause a reduction in the car’s acceleration, power, and fuel economy.
This will also happen if the catalytic converter gets cracked since a broken converter will leak. This will cause you to have trouble getting your car started.
- Reduced Acceleration: If you noticed your vehicle doesn’t accelerate properly when you step your foot on the gas pedal, it could be another sign your catalytic converter is clogged. Also, as you begin to accelerate, if your car jerks or stalls entirely, it is likely that no fuel enters the engine; an aged catalytic converter may be the cause of this.
- Dark Exhaust Smoke: The exhaust smoke that comes from the tailpipe of your car is usually dark. A clogged catalytic converter makes it harder for the exhaust to escape your engine, so when it comes out, it builds up and is thicker and darker.
- The smell of Sulfur or Rotten Eggs from the Exhaust: It’s a telltale sign of a failed catalytic converter if you detect anything that seems like rotten eggs from the exhaust. Gasoline contains a small amount of sulfur, which, during the combustion process, converts to hydrogen sulfide. The conversion does not happen when the catalytic converter is wrong, and some of the unburnt gases containing the smelly hydrogen sulfide leave your exhaust.
- Excessive Heat under the Vehicle: When you notice extreme heat coming out of your vehicle’s exhaust, it’s a sign that your catalytic converter is probably faulty.
- The Check Engine Light Appears: For some issues, the control engine light will come on, and one of them is a failing catalytic converter. The “check engine” light will show if the car senses that the catalytic converter is not operating correctly or catalyzing the exhaust gases the correct way. This happens because, by monitoring the gas levels in the exhaust, the oxygen and air-fuel ratio sensors control the catalytic converter’s performance.
- Reduced Fuel Efficiency: The lower airflow will cause your car to consume more fuel than it needs when you have a blockage in your catalytic converter. Linked to the low weak acceleration symptom above, you are forced to step on the gas pedal more because acceleration is impacted when you do not have sufficient exhaust flow. This is due to the engine pumping more fuel into the cylinders, causing the car to have a mixture of energy that is much richer than required.
Since a decline in your gas mileage is a sign of several other problems, it doesn’t mean you need to repair your catalytic converter on your own. But it could be a positive predictor paired with one of the signs above.
- Rattling Noise: The consequence of a few vehicle issues might be a rattling noise, but it could be your catalytic converter. If due to rich fuel mixtures, it gets old or damaged internally, its meshes can collapse or fall apart, which is where the rattle comes from.
- Failed Vehicle Emission Test: Catalytic converters are not only necessary for the atmosphere but are also essential for helping drivers pass emission checks. As the catalytic converter is part of the emission system of your car, it would make sense that a failed emission test for vehicles would be a sign of a defective catalytic converter.
Causes of a Bad Catalytic Converter
Most catalytic converters can last a vehicle’s lifetime, as described earlier. But a catalytic converter can go wrong in some situations and needs to be replaced.
Almost all catalytic converter issues are due to a problem with the engine. It is most frequently caused by excess fuel entering the exhaust system owing to an inaccurate air/fuel combination, bad spark plugs, wrong engine timing, failed oxygen sensor, or other problems where fuel exits the engine’s combustion chamber unburned.
The catalytic converter reaches a temperature that is too high when this occurs and starts melting the inside or tearing the honeycomb material apart. This will then make the catalytic converter from not working correctly.
Failed gaskets, lousy valve seals, or worn piston rings may also trigger oil or antifreeze to enter the exhaust system and coat thick carbon soot on the ceramic catalyst inside the converter.
If this is allowed to go on long enough, the catalytic converter would be clogged by these carbon deposits, so it can’t do its job. In this case, the exhaust flow is blocked entirely, and the backpressure builds back to the engine, which can cause overheating and other problems.
Lastly, there can be physical harm to the catalytic converter. Rocks, road debris, or potholes can get or break the outer shell of a catalytic converter or the hangers that protect it, but it’s not common.
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Repairing a Bad Catalytic Converter
If you think you have a bad or clogged catalytic converter, you can remove the clog by adding a catalytic converter cleaner to your gas. More than one use might be appropriate. Removing the cat and soaking it in a citric acid solution for 6-8 hours is an alternative and very sturdy way of cleaning a catalytic converter. Using sodium hydroxide is another choice. If the catalytic converter is broken, including parts of the honeycomb breaking off inside, attempting some repair is not fee-sable, even though you can see some people claiming otherwise. Repairing it is your only choice in these situations.
How to Prevent the Catalytic Converter From Clogging
The chance of your catalytic converter failing before it’s due will be reduced by having your exhaust, emissions, and combustion systems in the right conditions. The critical problems of acid rain and smog are these extremely hazardous substances, especially in low-lying valleys and critical metropolitan areas.
If you travel short distances with your car regularly, the hydrocarbons will not be burnt away because the catalytic converter does not get the chance to get hot enough. Try driving your car on the highway now and then for about 10 to 15 minutes to minimize the chances of getting a clogged catalytic converter.
To effectively burn off these hydrocarbon deposits, the requisite heat will be produced inside the catalytic converter, so it needs to run as efficiently as possible.
A vital component of your car that needs to be maintained is the catalytic converter. Once the catalytic converter of your car goes terrible, other parts of your vehicle will be affected. Some would say, however, that you can still drive while the catalytic converter is defective, but it is not advisable to do so. If well maintained, the catalytic converter lasts for a long time, but if you notice that your catalytic converter is wrong, fix it or get a new one to prevent other parts of your car from being damaged.