guide to understanding catalytic converters

Your Guide to Understanding Catalytic Converters

Back in the early days, cars were more toxic than the ones manufactured in current times. As their population increased, and they became more widespread – the manufacturers decided that it is important to install car catalytic converters to keep away fumes from entering our bodies.

After catalytic converters became known to almost every car brand in the world, the pollution that is created by cars got reduced by 75% in the last fifty years, primarily due to catalytic converters.

What is a catalytic converter?

A Catalytic Converter is installed in cars to minimize emissions from an internal combustion engine. As part of a vehicle’s exhaust system, catalytic converters are employed in almost every engine – even in mining equipment, buses, trucks, trains, buses, and forklifts. It works for a chemical reaction where hydrocarbons are completely combusted.

Car catalytic converter changes three main harmful compounds in car exhaust into harmless compounds. Those three harmful compounds are:

  • Nitrogen Oxide – this is created when the heat in the car engine forces nitrogen in the air to fuse with oxygen. This harmful compound leads to acid rain and smog.
  • Hydrocarbons – it is an organic compound that is made up of hydrogens and carbons. In a car, it is liberated in the form of unburned gasoline. Hydrocarbons create smog.
  • Carbon monoxide – is formed by the combustion of gasoline, carbon monoxide is basically poison for any living species.

All these compounds make for an unsafe and unhealthy environment in the vehicle, and catalytic converters help the engine get rid of them and make the car’s environment safe for its passengers.

How do Car Catalytic Converters work?

Taking a grasp on a catalytic converter is time taking as it is quite a complicated system. In this converter, the catalyst is in the form of palladium and platinum. These two are coated onto a ceramic honeycomb or beads that are housed in a muffler-like package that is attached to the exhaust pipe.

The catalytic converts hydrocarbons into carbon dioxide and water, it also turns carbon monoxide to carbon dioxide, along with these two it also converts nitrogen oxide back into oxygen and nitrogen.

Without the help of a catalytic converter, the vehicles would produce an excessive amount of emissions and this release of toxic compounds would lead to serious damage.

Signs Of Catalytic Converters Problems

As it requires high heat in order to operate, the catalytic converter was once placed near the engine in bygone cars. This placement caused vapor lock – it also produced an unpleasing smelling exhaust from the chemical reaction in the converter that included sulfur as well.

If a catalytic converter is doing its job just fine then you might not even notice. But a fallacious catalytic converter can produce a few symptoms that can alarm you that the car might need service.

We have shortlisted a few symptoms:

1- Rattling Noise

The rattling noise in your converter might be a warning sign that all isn’t well under the hood of your car. It normally occurs when the converter gets internally damaged from all the excessive rich fuel mixtures, the coated honeycomb on the inside of the converter oftentimes breaks apart or collides. This is what can cause a rattle noise in the converter and when a rattle is produced in the car it can get quite worse and is also pretty noticeable.
Furthermore, you can also hear a rattling noise as a result of the converter breaking at which point you’d need to take it for maintenance to a professional.

2- Engine Performance

If your engine is not performing well then there are chances that you may have a failing catalytic converter. If it is cracked then one will leak or if it is clogged it can easily restrict the exhaust flow. The above two symptoms can seamlessly affect the fuel economy and the engine performance of your car.

3- Check Engine Light

Often the problem with the catalytic converter is that it can trigger the check engine light. The air-fuel ratio sensors and oxygen monitor the efficiency of the catalytic converters by checking the gas levels in the exhaust. If it senses that the converter isn’t operating accurately – it will set off the check engine light. While on the other hand, it is obvious that the check engine light can mean other things as well.

If you detect bad-smelling exhaust, weak acceleration, rattling noise, or poor fuel economy, then it might be indicating that your catalytic converter needs a repair. Do not ignore the symptoms as these warnings might lead to something really serious, and you might end up spending a fortune at the mechanic’s shop.

Final Words!

The catalytic converter in your car works automatically and doesn’t require any operating, which is why keeping track of it might slip off your mind. But don’t forget that every single part of your vehicle requires your attention in order for it to run as a new one. You can easily set a reminder on your phone to schedule regular checkups for your car. By doing so you won’t forget any regular checkups.

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