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What to do if the catalytic converter has failed

What to do if the catalytic converter has failed

Breakdown of the catalytic converter is not often the reason for a visit to an automobile repair shop. But, like any other part, the exhaust converter has its own life, and sooner or later this part has to be replaced. On one hand, the repair is expensive. But the catalytic converter prices are high, even if the part is completely unusable for further operation.

Therefore, the sale of the obsolete part will be an excellent solution in order to cover part of the repair costs. In this material we will also look at what a catalytic converter is and what options are available for replacing it when it breaks down.

What is a catalytic converter?
The catalytic converter is an important component of the exhaust system. Its main functions are to clean the exhaust gases. During the operation of the internal combustion engine, the following toxic substances are emitted:

- carbon monoxide;
- nitrogen oxide;
- hydrocarbon.

These microelements are dangerous for the environment. That is why the task of a catalytic converter is to convert these chemicals into relatively harmless ones.

For this purpose the internal converter channels are coated with platinum group metals. Under the influence of pressure and temperatures above 300 degrees Celsius, these precious metals react chemically with the exhaust and convert the aforementioned toxic elements into water vapor, carbon dioxide and nitrogen.

If the catalytic converter is no longer fully functional, the oxygen sensors (lambda sensor) react. In modern vehicles, the problem is indicated by a Check Engine error indicator. But if the problem is not eliminated in a short time, the onboard computer may switch the engine into emergency mode. In this case it will not be possible to operate the car without eliminating the breakdown.

Therefore, if the first signs of a catalytic converter malfunction occur, it is better to immediately contact a car repair shop and have it diagnosed.

Signs of catalytic converter failure
As a rule, the catalytic converter fails gradually (except in cases of mechanical damage). The most common cause of failure is еру clogging of the converter cells. Therefore, the first symptoms of failure can be detected in advance, even before the converter completely ceases to perform its functions. Among such signs there are:

- loss of dynamism. The car is slower than usual, picking up speed. Especially it can be felt when overtaking and starting away from rest;
- difficulty in starting the engine. When the catalyst is clogged, the engine can cold-start without any problems. But in the warmed-up state, difficulties appear. The engine may start, but stall after a few seconds of operation;
- increased fuel consumption. If the catalyst honeycomb is clogged, back pressure occurs in the intake pipe or exhaust manifold. Because of this, the engine gets an additional load, which affects fuel consumption.

As a rule, all symptoms are reinforced by the Check Engine indicator burning on the onboard panel. The more of these symptoms occur simultaneously, the higher possibility of problems with the catalytic converter.

Problem solution
If the catalytic converter breaks down, it can be replaced or removed. The first option is more environmentally friendly, since the exhaust will be cleaned in accordance with all the manufacturer’s stated standards.

Replacing the part is expensive. Therefore, some car owners decide to remove the catalyst. But even in this case, it will be necessary to install dummies and to reflash the ECU. And the car will not meet the declared environmental standards and will not be able to pass technical inspection.