3 Signs That Your Catalytic Converter Is On The Fritz

Your car's catalytic converter plays a vital role in converting harmful exhaust gases to far more benign ones. Unfortunately, a faulty converter will not only fail to perform this important function, but it can also negatively affect the performance of your engine. If you would like to learn more about how to detect a malfunctioning catalytic converter, read on. This article will teach you about three important signs.

A Basic Introduction

The catalytic converter is responsible for reducing the pollutants expelled by your exhaust system. It does this by means of a chemical reaction. A catalyst--usually a mixture of platinum and palladium--converts harmful gases such as carbon monoxide into relatively harmless ones.

Catalytic converters commonly fail for one of two general reasons: either it has become clogged, or it has been "poisoned" by the introduction of contaminating substances. This may include such things as antifreeze or automotive oil that have made their way into the converter thanks to leaks in their supply lines. Alternately, a converter may cease to function properly if it suffers cracks or holes as the result of an accident.

Poor Engine Performance

Sooner or later a problematic catalytic converter will begin to impede the proper functioning of your engine. That's because the exhaust fumes are blocked from proceeding through the converter to the rest of your exhaust system. This leads to a backup of fumes inside the engine.

As such fumes leave unwanted deposits, your engine's performance will gradually slump off. You will likely notice that your car has begun to experience a marked reduction in its power. Likewise, it will not be able to accelerate as easily as it used to. Finally, your miles per gallon of gasoline will steadily decrease.

Odd Rattling Sound

The interior of a catalytic converter is made up of a ceramic honeycomb whose walls are coated with the catalyst responsible for transforming harmful gases. When a catalytic converter becomes inundated with oil, antifreeze, or other harsh substances, these delicate structures start to degrade. Eventually they will begin to break apart. The result is a noticeable rattling sound when operating the car.

Check Engine Light

Although the catalytic converter is not a part of your engine, it can still lead to the check engine light coming on. The rising exhaust levels produced by a clogged converter will trip the air and oxygen sensors inside of the engine. If your check engine light has recently come on, but there are no noticeable symptoms in the handling of your car, be sure to mention it to your mechanic. It may be that the cause of the problem is a catalytic converter in need of some work. 

For more information, contact a car repair shop.