Catalytic converters first appeared on cars in the ‘70s as a means to dramatically cut pollution toward the end of the exhaust chain. These devices, one or more of which are connected within a car’s exhaust system upstream of the muffler, contain honeycomb networks through which exhaust gasses pass. Particles within the honeycomb layers react chemically with the gasses, breaking them down into less harmful emissions. As wonderful as they are, these antipollution devices have a limited shelf life. Pay attention to warning signs of catalytic converter failure and act quickly to avoid a nasty surprise during your next state inspection.
How Much Replacement Will Cost?
The question of how much does a catalytic converter cost can be determined by a number of variables. For one thing, the job may be complicated for some do-it-yourself mechanics; if you are uncomfortable performing anything more than routine oil changes, you are going to need to pay labor charges for an installation. Your car may also house more than one converter, in which case the mechanic will need to replace multiple converters. If the catalytic converter is failing as a result of miles driven, the entire exhaust system may be nearing its end-of-life as well.
What to Do if It Needs to Be Replaced
Fortunately, a repair shop or auto service chain can help you determine if your catalytic converter has reached its last-gasp moment. They will also help you find the appropriate replacement unit or units based on your vehicle’s make and model. Using a vin lookup tool, an auto supply shop will confirm all the specific factory-quality parts you need to complete the job.
Signs of A Failing Catalytic Converter
A catalytic converter does not stop working overnight; it loses effectiveness gradually. If your check engine light illuminates, a failing catalytic converter may have triggered it. However, before that point, a failing converter may give various impending failure signals: engine misfiring, whether at idle or under acceleration; decreasing acceleration, especially while traveling uphill; reduced fuel economy; a rattling sound coming from underneath the car (though a heat shield could be the culprit); or a sulfurous odor reminiscent of rotting eggs.
Causes of Catalytic Converter Failure
The catalytic converter is an amazing device, with the capacity to last for the life of a car in some cases. However, it is not indestructible; a few factors can contribute to your car’s needing a replacement. First, high mileage will take a toll on most catalytic converters since hot gasses degrade the chemical-reaction process. Second, incomplete fuel combustion from worn spark plugs or faulty computer controls will clog the unit. Third, head gaskets failures or similar engine breakdowns that allow toxic coolant or oil to be burned along with fuel will also damage the internal workings of the catalytic converter.
Drivers don’t think about their car’s catalytic converter until this valuable emission part begins to fail. You cannot ignore the signs since the problems of a failing converter will worsen over time. By monitoring your car’s performance and checking with a service center or your mechanic, you can ensure your car’s catalytic converters are scrubbing toxic gasses from the air as designed.