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5 of the Most Notable Symptoms of a Bad Catalytic Converter

symptoms of a bad catalytic converter

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Driving with a bad catalytic converter is not recommended. Although it does not make your car a visible hazard on the road, this failing catalytic converter still harm the environment. Therefore, it is necessary that you can get a professional mechanic to look at your car if you suspect that this part of your vehicle is damaged.

Fortunately, you can observe the symptoms of a bad catalytic converter. If you are familiar with the operation of your car, you can easily identify these irregularities. But before we go there, let me discuss a few things that revolve around a catalytic converter.

What is a Catalytic Converter

what is a catalytic converter

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One of the most overlooked parts of any vehicle is the catalytic converter. What is a catalytic converter? The function of this device is pretty simple: it optimizes the emission of your car. Without this component, the harmful compounds that the engines produce will not get filtered. Malignant elements like hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides, and carbon monoxide will freely escape if the catalytic converter is dysfunctional.

What does a catalytic converter do? Well, the latter is using a catalyst. Usually, this is either palladium or platinum that embedded in a ceramic bead or “honeycomb”. The element is often found somewhere near the exhaust pipe of the vehicle. When the emissions pass through this part, the catalyst will process them.

For instance, the converter can turn the harmful carbon monoxide into a much safer carbon dioxide. It can also break down the nitrogen oxide to its original form – the oxygen and nitrogen.

Of course, some states would require you to have your emission levels checked. If the authorities found anomalies, you are up for a big fine. I know that you don’t want that. Therefore, it is better to conduct regular maintenance to the catalytic converter of your car.

Symptoms of a Bad Catalytic Converter

Your car won’t go crazy out of a sudden. That’s a promise that I can guarantee. After all, modern vehicles today are all sturdy and well-engineered. Their parts won’t break without any notice. Moreover, they have the longevity that you can assure.

For catalytic converters, you should be happy that they are made to last long. In fact, it is quite rare for them to suffer internal damages. The usual perpetrators why these components experience is due to external factors. For example, a converter would sustain severe mangling a heavy debris strikes it.

At this point, it is already necessary to replace the catalytic converter. Fortunately, the catalytic converter replacement cost is not that big. It would be a little investment if I were to ask. Compared to the service that it performs to your vehicle, the price of a brand new converter would mean less.

Engine Misfires

Engine Misfires

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It is common that a failing catalytic converter would cause occasional, or not, frequent misfires. Other issues can cause misfiring in vehicles. However, one of most probable causes here is an overheated converter. Typically, this is due to the unregulated deposits of fuel mixtures. When these sediments pass through the converter, they will get ignited. As a result, it will produce an abnormal level of heat.

Performance Reduction

It is notable that the performance of your car would subside if catalytic converter confines the exhaust. That results in a back pressure, in where the engine suddenly stops from functioning. Back pressure is typically in the motors. But once uncontrolled, it would cause your vehicle to stop breathing. It is as if an airlock has suspended the engine.

Increased Fueling Frequency

increased fuel consumption

Source: http://wonderfulengineering.com/increase-your-cars-fuel-mileage-using-these-simple-steps/

A damaged converter can affect the fuel efficiency of your vehicle. Since it can’t regulate the compounds correctly, they would eventually harm the entire system of your car. As a result, you will notice a sudden spike in your fuel economy. That is bad, as it would prevent you from traveling long distances without going to fuel stations from time to time.



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If you can hear rattling noises while you are driving, then it is a wake-up call already. There is a good chance that a failing catalytic converter causes these sounds. Once the latter gets damaged due to the massive concentration of fuel mixtures, the honeycomb inside it would also suffer. It will eventually break, which can cause those cacophonous sounds. Usually, you can hear these rattles when you are starting the vehicle.

Check Engine Light

The check engine light of your vehicle is like an in-house doctor. Once it starts to glow, there is something wrong with your car that you should check. Most of the check engine lights today can monitor the fuel and air level of the vehicle. It can also determine and calculate the performance of the catalytic converter. You can do this by gauging the level of gas in the exhaust.

A check engine light will illuminate for different reasons. Therefore, it is essential that you would make a quick diagnosis to your car to see if there are impending problems in your way. Otherwise, you will eventually become a hazard on the road.


The symptoms of a bad catalytic converter are quite apparent. You won’t have a hard time guessing if the issue is rising or not. As long as you can observe these following manifestations, you should proceed to the nearest automotive service centers on your locality. They can run a quick diagnosis to your car and provide you with the right solutions. If they recommend that you should already replace the converter, then do so. It would benefit you in the long run.

Take note that the catalytic converter is among the essential components of your vehicle. Without this, it will unleash the unlimited amount of emissions. You will never pass any emission test if your car exhibits this problem. That is a complete hassle on your part since your license is in danger if you can’t comply with these standards.

The best course of action here is to give your converter treatment that it needs. Trust me. You will have a smoother time on the road if the converter is in its top shape.

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Steven K. Galloway