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Emissions are significant, and the EPA is getting more concerned about their environmental effects. Your vehicle’s catalytic converter is a vital part of your exhaust system. Fuel mixes with oxygen, pulling from the air and creating waste. Three common byproducts come from your car’s exhaust, which includes dioxide, soot, and carbon monoxide.
The catalytic converter helps to filter these toxins from the air. These toxins are very harmful to the atmosphere, and to you, they’re pure poison. You’ve heard of people dying of asphyxiation from car fumes, which shows how dangerous they are to the human body. They can poison your lungs in a matter of minutes.
The Precious Metals in a Catalytic Converter
Catalytic converters are highly sought after among criminals for the precious metals in the honeycomb interior. You can go online and watch a video on how to take one off, but it’s more work than people think. Criminals usually saw the unit off at the tailpipe to make it easier to grab and go.
Why do they want these converters so badly? Inside you’ll find palladium, platinum, copper, and rhodium. These materials work together as chemical agents that help to convert the toxic gases into less contaminated ones. The converter’s job is to hold the metals in place, as this unit has intense heat. Heat is necessary to help the metals do the filtering.
Why Do These Units Become Clogged?
For the catalytic converter to operate correctly, it must have oxygen. There are sensors placed throughout your vehicle’s exhaust system that monitor the oxygen levels, called 02. If you’ve owned your automobile for any time, you’ve likely replaced these standard sensors.
When the 02 sensors aren’t working correctly, the oxygen level in your exhaust system is not optimum, which means the fuel-to-air mix is incorrect. Your vehicle is compensating by taking more fuel to operate. If your car starts using way more gas than usual, a check engine light indicating a 02 sensor is possible. Additionally, if you don’t replace this part quickly, it can cause things to happen due to the lack of oxygen.
For instance, your spark plugs may foul out and cause your car to run rough or not run at all. Additionally, it can cause the catalytic converter to cease operation and require replacement. The good news is that the converter isn’t a part that commonly fails, but over time, the age can cause them to rust and develop other issues. You can expect to replace these units every 15-18 years of an automobile’s lifespan.
One problem that will cause this vital part to fail prematurely is getting clogged. How does a converter get clogged? Well, you know there’s a honeycomb-like structure inside, so it’s easy for the unburned fuel to get trapped, which causes corrosion. Excessive fuel in this unit makes the converter unable to do its job effectively. To make matters worse, it’s 1,200 to 1,600 degrees Fahrenheit inside this unit, and raw fuel mixed with these temperatures can cause the ceramic components to melt.
Other things that can clog the catalytic converter include having a coolant or oil leak. While these liquids won’t be nearly as scorching as fuel, their presence inside the catalytic converter can still cause it to plug. What started as one problem can suddenly morph into an even bigger situation. Replacing this unit is not cheap, and it’s not something that most people are repaired to replace.
So many people try to bypass these units because they can run you anywhere from $1,000 – $4,000, depending on the automobile. The automotive industry is just another area that’s been affected by inflation. Some manufacturers are trying to use cheaper metals like nickel, iron, and rhodium to replace palladium, as suppliers need help to keep up with the demand.
How To Identify a Catalytic Converter Issue?
Many ask how you will know if your converter is going bad long before the engine light illuminates. The most common issue is exhaust fumes that smell like rotten eggs. You know you have a significant problem if you’re gagging while driving down the road or if other people are looking at you while sitting in line at the drive-thru. The pungent smell from a failing converter is hard to ignore.
If your catalytic converter fails, your engine light will tell you there’s a problem. We frequently fixed these issues and other common exhaust problems at Carolina Auto Service. Running your exhaust without these converters in operational condition on your vehicle is illegal, and any emissions testing will quickly fail due to a faulty one. If you need help with your catalytic converter or want a full inspection of your exhaust system, call us.