Catalytic converters are one of the most critical elements in a vehicle’s exhaust system. They ensure your car passes emissions tests and improves air quality by trapping pollutants.
They even help to reduce engine noise and emissions of hazardous hydrocarbons. Unfortunately, the biggest drawback is the fact that they can easily become damaged and cease functioning.
In this article, we will explain everything you need to know about catalytic converter and the steps you can take to troubleshoot it from oil damage.
What is a Catalytic Converter?
A catalytic converter is a device that controls harmful emissions from your vehicle. It does this by converting dangerous gases like carbon monoxide, nitrous oxide and hydrocarbons in your exhaust into less hazardous ones like carbon dioxide and water vapor.
There is no doubt that all new cars sold in the United States must include a catalytic converter as an emission control measure.
The converter is composed of a ceramic honeycomb structure with an outer coating containing catalysts (metals or compounds that cause chemical reactions without altering their original form). Platinum, palladium and rhodium are utilized in the converter’s oxidation and reduction stages to transform hazardous chemicals into benign ones.
What Causes Catalytic Converter Failure?
Converters can fail prematurely due to a variety of causes. Excess fuel, oil, coolant or even external damage from road debris may cause it to malfunction prematurely.
If you observe an unexpected rise in carbon emissions from your vehicle, this could be indicative of a failing catalytic converter. This can lead to various issues such as reduced fuel efficiency and the inability to pass smog tests.
What Are The Signs Of a Bad Catalytic Converter?
Even though catalytic converters usually last the lifetime of a car, they can starts to malfunction if clogged or damaged.
- Engine lights turn on suddenly
- The engine takes a few minutes before starting
- Failed emmision test
- Bad smell coming from the exhaust
- Poor fuel economy
Another sign of a failing catalytic converter is a rattling sound coming from beneath the hood. This may be caused by broken pieces within its honeycomb mesh interior.
It is also best to keep in mind that clogged converters can lead to health issues and the feeling of being lightheaded while driving. If this occurs, it could potentially result in accidents.
How to Troubleshoot Damaged Catalytic Converter?
It is safe to say that, there are some simple fixes you can do yourself to repair a damaged catalytic converter without spending an arm and a leg at a repair shop.
The first thing we recommend doing is to clean your vehicle engine as well as the fuel system as this will help to reduce unwanted oil returning upstream to the catalyst converter.
Also, one of the primary causes of a bad catalytic converter is that it’s not reaching its optimum temperature to burn away stuck hydrocarbons and contaminants. If your vehicle doesn’t get much use and you don’t drive often, try pushing it hard a few times to force it to reach this hottest setting.
Can Too Much Oil Damage The Catalytic Converter?
Maintaining your vehicle’s optimal performance requires regular oil changes and high-quality motor oil. Not only will this improve fuel economy and emissions, but it can also enhance overall performance.
However, it’s essential to recognize that excessive or low-grade oil can damage your catalytic converter over time.
Excessive amounts of oil can clog the spark plug and build up in an engine’s catalytic converter, preventing it from firing properly and allowing unburned fuel into the exhaust system – potentially leading to partial or complete meltdown of its ceramic catalyst.