Some critical parts of your car will go bad with very little warning, but fortunately, this is not normally the case with the catalytic converter. This vital part of your vehicle’s exhaust system usually gives you several warning signs. At first, the signs are fairly subtle and include such things as reduced gas mileage and the presence of a rotten egg odor. Eventually, though, the indications that it is time to replace the unit become more pronounced.
Later signs of trouble with your car’s cat include reduced engine performance in the form of stalling or rough idling. A rattling sound near the tailpipe often occurs when idling, and the check engine light will come on. In some vehicles, a bad cat will cause systems like your cruise control to become inoperational. Another sign of trouble is dark gasses emerging from the tailpipe. Perhaps the most alarming sign is when the unit itself becomes super-hot or glows red.
Since other engine and exhaust problems mimic some of these signs, it is important to get a diagnostic test from a professional mechanic. This will confirm that it is the converter that is failing
What Does a Catalytic Converter Do?
This important device performs an essential function in your vehicle’s exhaust system: it cleans the air coming out of your exhaust pipe. It accomplishes this by using heat to transform harmful substances into less harmful ones, reducing the carbon monoxide, nitrogen gas, nitrogen oxide and hydrocarbons that go into the air. The unit also uses the following precious metals to catalyze harmful materials into inert gasses:
Though used in small amounts, these metals, along with precision engineering, account for a solid portion of the catalytic converter cost. As an aside, catalytic converters sometimes attract the attention of thieves to sell these metals.
Converters cost anywhere from $200 to $1,400 when bought from a trusted auto parts store. The price range is caused by different types of converters and from different manufacturers. The type of vehicle you drive will also play a role in the final price. If you are handy at fixing things yourself, you can save anywhere from $500 to $1,200 on labor costs.
How To Fix A Catalytic Converter
Once your cat begins to fail, it is only a matter of time before a replacement is necessary. You can put off the inevitable for a little while by using fuel additives designed to clean the converter, or you can even remove the part and manually clean out the accumulated residues, but eventually, you will need to spring for a new unit.
To make sure you get the right part for your vehicle, use the VIN number lookup to get a precise match. When shopping online, this will bring up only the converters that work for your car or truck. You will likely have a choice of direct-fit converters or universal converters.
Driving for too long with a damaged cat is not an option. Shop now and enjoy the benefits of a quality replacement unit.