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Signs of a Failing Catalytic Converter

Signs of a Failing Catalytic Converter

Ah, the Catalytic Converter, our last line of defense from our vehicle exhaust system’s harmful gases. Precious metals (such as Platinum, Cerium, Ruthenium, Rhodium and Palladium) encased in a honeycomb structure, filter out contaminants and reduce emissions. A critical, and unfortunately pricey, component of all vehicles since 1975.

Besides reducing air pollution (which should be enough of a reason to be sure it’s working correctly) driving on a failing catalytic converter may reduce engine performance and if clogged, may cause your vehicle to emit a dark, smelly exhaust or perhaps not to start at all.

So, as a driver, how do you know when your check engine light comes on if it’s your Catalytic Converter on the fritz?

4 Signs Your Catalytic Converter may be failing:

Noticeably Slower Acceleration

When you press on the gas pedal from a dead stop and your vehicle feels twice as heavy to move, this is a common sign of a clogged catalytic converter. Your engine’s ability to take in clean air and expel harmful gases is a combined process – a clogged converter will not allow your engine to mix air and fuel efficiently, which results in poor power and acceleration issues.

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Poor Fuel Economy

Who can afford to be ‘running rich’ these days? If your engine cannot properly mix air and fuel due to a clogged catalytic converter, your O2 sensors may be tricked into believing more air is getting through than there should be and to compensate for this, they will inject more fuel than your car can actually use. This is a double edged sword as additional fuel can cause additional buildup in your catalytic converter.

Rattling Noises

Your vehicle can make many different noises when it’s trying to tell you there’s an issue. Often, a clogged catalytic converter will make a rattling noise when starting up, idling or driving down the road. (Think small stones in a steel can) This is usually caused by the honeycomb materials in your converter breaking apart due to the excess heat/damage of the clog. Ignoring this noise won’t solve the issue and continuing to drive on it will only cause more damage until it is replaced.

Rotten Egg Smell

If you notice a sulfur (rotten eggs) smell emitting from your exhaust, this is one of the final stages of a failing catalytic converter. Continuing to drive your vehicle when harmful gases seep into your cab will damage more than just your engine. Health problems, lightheadedness and dizzy spells while driving are all serious side effects – if your vehicle reaches this stage, it is imperative you replace the component immediately.

Catalytic converters have an average lifespan of around 10 years, so if yours hasn’t reached this milestone and you’re experiencing any of these signs, or if you’re pretty sure now that this is the issue, bring your vehicle into our shop, Global Automotive, to have our expert auto technicians take a look. Honest and reliable auto repair and service in Fauquier County VA since 1993.

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