catalytic converter

The Case for Catalytic Converters

While catalytic converters aren’t 100% effective at cutting emissions, they are an essential step on the road to reducing pollution from automobiles. Unfortunately, they only work well when they’re working well. If you need service for your mufflers or exhaust systems, contact our team. We offer a wide variety of auto repair services to keep you going down the road safe and sound.

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Signs of Catalytic Converter Issues

Declining fuel efficiency: If a catalytic converter becomes clogged, it can reduce the amount of airflow through your engine. To compensate, your engine might start to burn more fuel than usual, resulting in a noticeable drop in fuel efficiency.

Check warning light: A check engine light can indicate a range of things. However, there is a diagnostic system on cars manufactured after 1996 that will test the catalytic converter. If your converter is malfunctioning, the air-to-fuel ratio sensors might trigger the warning light to come on.

How do catalytic converters work?

Catalytic converters change harmful substances in a car’s exhaust gasses, such as carbon monoxide, nitric oxide, nitrogen dioxide and hydrocarbons, into less harmful substances like carbon dioxide and water vapour by means of chemical reactions.

The interior of the ‘cat’ is usually filled with a honeycomb structure onto which a coating is applied that contains a catalyst – the substance that creates a reaction with the exhaust gasses, changing their chemical structure.

Precious metals like palladium, rhodium and platinum are commonly used as the catalyst and these have an intrinsic value that means they’re worth salvaging and recycling when the car is scrapped. Unfortunately, these precious metals also make catalytic converters a target for thieves. 

Catalytic converters need to work at high temperatures of up to 400 degrees to maximise their efficiency. To achieve this optimum operating temperature the first units were positioned close to the car’s engine but this caused its own issues and the cat has gradually been mover further down the exhaust system, away from the engine’s heat source.