Vehicles produce dangerous exhaust gases that would cause pollution when released directly to the environment. A catalytic converter is a technology developed to compact this. This technology has been in use for several decades, that every car manufactured today features a catalytic converter. If you have been nursing any questions about a catalytic converter that you need answers to, here is the right place to get answers to them. This article covers everything you need to know about catalytic converters, such as catalytic converter cost, how they work, what they do, and how to prevent them against theft.
How much does a catalytic converter cost?
While it is crucial to provide proper maintenance to your vehicle’s catalytic converter, indeed, it will someday fail to function. It is, however, unfortunate that a bad ‘cat’ converter cannot be repaired. As such, the only way out is a replacement. It is essential to replace a bad cat converter as soon as you notice the new development. Using your vehicle with a bad cat converter will not only cause air pollution but also cause damages to your vehicle.
On the cost of a catalytic converter, you can get an aftermarket universal catalytic converter for as low as $54.99. However, it all depends on what type of car you drive. If you drive high-performance car original catalytic converter cost can reach $3000-$4000. After replacing your vehicle’s catalytic converter, you have to maintain and keep it clean, to promote a longer lifespan.
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What do catalytic converters do and how do they work?
As mentioned earlier, a car’s exhaust gases contain harmful substances, such as nitric acid, nitrogen dioxide, and carbon monoxide. It is the function of a catalytic converter, which is usually located under the car, to convert these substances into less harmful substances, which include water vapor and carbon dioxide. This conversion is made possible due to the chemical reaction that takes place between the harmful gases and catalyst inside the cat converter.
The converter is built with a catalyst inside it, which function is to react with the harmful substances in the exhaust gases coming from the combustion engine to yield harmless substances.
Certain precious metals are used as the catalyst in these converters. As such, a catalytic converter is worth recycling. However, the precious value of this catalyst renders catalytic converters more susceptible to theft.
For catalytic converters to perform excellently, they require high temperatures. Therefore, they were usually positioned very close to the car engine. However, manufacturers realized that this position was affecting the performance of the converter, and they decided to shift the position a bit down the exhaust system.
Unfortunately, this new position of catalytic converters also exposes them to theft, as thieves find it easier to cut the system off. However, this has been the usual position for catalytic converters in most cars today. Hence, there is a cause to worry about catalytic theft.
How to prevent catalytic converter theft?
The reported cases of catalytic converter today are now increasing. It was estimated that the number of catalytic converters stolen in 2019 was about eight times the number of converters stolen in 2018.
Well, people have linked this to the issue of the supply chain that occurred around this period. This issue made it impossible for dealers to stock new catalytic, which promoted the black market. However, the increasing reported cases of catalytic theft are generally due to the cost of the precious metal in the converter. Studies showed that many used converter are illegally transported from the UK to neighboring countries where the metals are recycled. No doubt, most of these converters are stolen.
A stolen catalytic converter always comes with two costs: the cost of replacing the stolen converter and the cost of repairing the damages left behind by the thief when making efforts to remove the converter.
With all these, every car owner must know what efforts they can make to prevent catalytic theft. While it is impossible to prevent this theft totally, there are simple steps you can take to secure your catalytic converter. These tips will not only protect your cat converter but also help to protect your car.
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Avoid parking your car on the street
Most car owners do not pay attention to where they park their car, forgetting that there might be thieves hiding around and waiting for the right time to steal parts of their vehicle. So you don’t fall a victim of a stolen car part, such as the car catalytic converter, find a secure garage to park your vehicle. It is not necessary to have a four-wall garage, in as much as there is security provision. If you don’t have a garage around or can’t afford one, ensure you park your vehicle in a well-lit space, and your car is parked that its rear is close to a fence.
Etch your car’s VIN on your cat converter
Many of us are wary of buying used car parts with a VIN (Vehicle identification number) etched on them. You can also leverage this mean to protect your cat converter. While this does not entirely stop thieves from coming close to your vehicle, thieves are also wary of taking car parts with VIN etched on them to black markets. Hence, they will look for a more vulnerable cat converter to steal.
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Weld the bolt on your catalytic converter
A thief coming to remove a cat converter usually comes with a spanner, aiming to unbolt the casing and run. You can prevent this by getting the bolts on your catalytic converter welded.
How long do catalytic converters last?
Due to constant exposure to harsh weather conditions, catalytic converters are prone to damages and shortened lifespan. Realizing this, most catalytic converter manufacturer today now cover their products with an outer shell to protect converters and prolong their lifespan. Also, manufacturers pay attention to the kind of materials used in making these shells. A converter shell made from weaker metals easily rusts with continuous exposure to weather conditions, which will affect the cat converter it is meant to protect.
With a strong shell, the exterior of a cat converter lasts long. But what about the interior? The design of the interior part of a catalytic converter makes it vulnerable to damages. An average catalytic converter has a lifespan of eight years. However, most aftermarket converters do not last longer than five years, which is linked to their shoddy construction.
Factors that influence the lifespan of a catalytic converter
One factor that determines how long a catalytic converter serves is the exterior part, which is usually provided with shells to protect them from weather conditions. However, the exterior of a converter does not influence its performance in any way. The performance of the engine and the oxygen sensor are significant factors that influence how long a cat converter lasts.
Before a car engine can exhaust gases, the fuel and air must adequately mix. A sensor is provided to sense the richness of the fuel and relays the information to a computer. When there is an uneven mixture of fuel and air, the pollutants released to the atmosphere increases than the usual amount. This exposes the catalytic converter to a higher temperature, and an increased amount of carbon is built up for the converter to convert.
Another factor that affects the performance of the catalytic converter is the performance of the oxygen sensor. If the sensor is malfunctioning, it starts to send wrong signals to the engine’s computer, which tells on the performance of the catalytic converter.
Symptoms of a faulty catalytic converter
The function of a catalytic converter in a car combustion system is significant. As such, it is necessary to make provisions for the proper maintenance of your car’s cat converter. However, one challenge often faced is that most catalytic converters only last for a few years. Aftermarket converters usually have a shorter lifespan. Many car owners are not aware of the signs of a bad catalytic converter and neglect them when they pop up.
Here are symptoms to watch out for to know when it is time to replace your car’s cat converter:
Check-engine light is on: though there are different reasons your car’s check-engine light may be on, check-engine light being on is one of the signs of a bad catalytic converter. As such, when your check-engine light signals, and you confirm that there are no other causes behind it, it is time to inspect your cat converter.
Catalytic converter smells rotten egg: when a car’ cat converter is faulty, it emits a rotten-egg smell. This smell is due to the buildup of fuel, which contains sulfate that is known for this type of smell.
Dark smoke from the car’s tailpipe: when your car’s cat converter is clogged, it blocks the passage of exhaust gas that should exit your car’s combustion engine. This leads to a buildup of exhaust gas, which yields darker and thicker smoke.
A decreased in gas mileage: another common sign of a bad catalytic converter is a decrease in fuel efficiency. For a vehicle’s engine to render maximum performance, there must be adequate airflow. When there is a clog in the cat converter, the rate of airflow in the converter reduces, and the performance of the vehicle’s engine goes low as well. With this, the vehicle begins to consume more fuel but with reduced performance. Hence, if you notice that your vehicle’s mileage reduces, this might be calling your attention to your vehicle’s catalytic converter.
Your engine misfires: one common result of a bad cat converter is misfiring. This is because a clogged converter increases the heat within the engine and can cause the engine to ignite. When this ignition occurs, you sense that your vehicle starts to misfire, which has adverse effects on your vehicle’s engine. As such, it is crucial to take your vehicle to a service professional when you notice misfiring.
Vehicle performance drops after removing the oxygen sensor: to know the state of your catalytic converter, remove your car’s oxygen sensors from the system and notice what happens. If performance slightly goes down, then you may not need to worry about your cat converter. However, if performance swiftly declines, this is enough symptom that your cat converter needs replacement.
Your car produces a raffling sound: one signs you shouldn’t neglect is a raffling sound coming from your car’s tailpipe. This sound is often due to the collapse of the catalyst in the interior of the cat converter. As such, if you notice that your car makes a strange sound any time you turn it on, it is wise to take it to a professional technician to have the catalytic converter checked for you.
A catalytic converter plays a crucial role in a vehicle’s mechanical system. Many car owners believe the metal boxes are just beneath their vehicles to exhaust direct gases from their vehicle’s engine to the environment. No, catalytic converters do more than that. Without a catalytic converter, the gases coming directly from the combustion engine would pollute the environment.
Ensure you provide proper care and maintenance to your vehicle’s cat engine. When you have the impression that your cat converter is damaged, ensure you have it checked up and replace it if it finally turns out to be bad.
What happens when my car’s catalytic converter is bad?
Experts advise that you replace your vehicle’s catalytic converter immediately that you have enough signs that it is bad. Driving your car with a bad cat converter reduces its acceleration, causes a significant decline in vehicle’s performance, and inflates heat generated under the vehicle. All these are unhealthy for your vehicle.
Can you drive a car with a bad catalytic converter?
Well, this depends on how bad the converter is. If you have just noticed that your cat converter is faulty and you are not ready to replace it, you can still manage to drive your car around. However, you will notice a drop in the performance of your vehicle. When this performance becomes extreme that acceleration significantly declines, it is time to postpone that journey and take your car out to replace its cat converter.
What materials are used as catalysts in cat converters?
The catalyst in a catalytic converter can be any or a combination of these three metals: platinum (Pt), rhodium (Rh), and palladium (Ph). All these metals are rare and valuable. This makes cat converters a great target for thieves.
What is a catalytic converter made of?
A catalytic converter is a metal box with a catalyst inside to convert hazardous gases to harmless gases. The catalyst inside can be platinum, palladium, or rhodium. Most cat converters have two pipes through which the less harmful gases are exhausted.