What does a Catalytic Converter do?

A catalytic converter is an important addition of your car's exhaust system. It is equipped with platinum, palladium, rhodium, or similar metals that change toxic pollutants from the engine into less harmful gases.

In an effort to curb environmental pollution, your vehicle should not exceed the set federal vehicle emissions standard, thus the need for a well-fitted and functional catalytic converter.

How does a Catalytic Converter Work?

Diesel and Petrol are hydrocarbons that give off harmful gases during combustion. In our case, compounds of Carbon, Nitrogen—and in some cases, Sulphur and volatile organic compounds (VOC.) The oxides of these compounds are known as ozone gases or green gases. Common ozone gases produced by your car's engine include;

  • Nitrogen Monoxide and Nitrogen Dioxide: They are the major cause of acid rain and fog.
  • Carbon Monoxide: It is a colorless, odorless, very toxic gas that can cause suffocation.
  • Unburnt Hydrocarbons, commonly known as Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs): The engine's incomplete fuel combustion is mainly due to poor air-fuel mixture.

When emitted into the atmosphere, these pollutants cause adverse weather conditions such as acid rain, depletion of the ozone layer, and global warming. To protect the environment, gases from an internal engine are chemically changed to ecologically harmless gasses.

The process takes place in a catalytic converter that's designed to use the principle of redox reactions. Here, platinum or any other noble metal that can act as a reduction catalyst splits the nitrogen and oxygen atoms from the nitrogen oxide compound. The free but harmless oxygen and nitrogen atoms are then released into the atmosphere. At the same time, volatile organic compounds of unburnt hydrocarbons are oxidized to water, and carbon monoxide to harmless carbon dioxide gas. Note that during this process, the noble metals are not affected—they only trigger the reduction and oxidation processes of the exhaust gases.

Common Symptoms of a Bad Catalytic Converter

  • Check engine light.
  • Unusual poor fuel economy due to clogging of the catalytic converter.
  • A Rattling noise originating from the engine.
  • The smell of Sulphur and unburnt fuel.
  • Frequent engine misfires.
  • Loss of engine power, acceleration lag, or complete stall if the exhaust system is severely clogged
  • Increased emissions from the exhaust, and more.

More often than not, a catalytic converter may fail due to malfunctioning of other parts of the fuel and exhaust system. So, be sure you schedule an inspection with a reliable and trustworthy mechanic at Dragonfly Automotive if you think there's a potential problem with the catalytic converter. Feel free to give us a call or schedule your appointment online with us today.