A catalytic converter is a device meant to reduce the extent of impurity in a vehicle's emissions. The converter can fail because of internal damage or external factors such as mishandling, improper fitting or accidents.
Loss of Power
A loss of power is the surest symptom that something has gone wrong with the catalytic converter. This happens when there is overheating or thermal failure. Typically, this occurs when an excess of raw or unused fuel comes into contact with the converter, and burns in the converter itself. The fuel does not reach the engine. When this leakage occurs, the high amount of fuel can also heat up the converter too much, leading to a burnout of the ceramic monolith (a part of the converter).
High Emissions Levels
High emissions levels happen when the converter fails as a result of contaminated or plugged substrates. This leads to a disproportionately higher than required mixture of fuel. When oil or antifreeze or radiator sealant enters the exhaust flow, the air mixture becomes excessive, which leads to carbon deposits in the exhaust. Whenever the engine is turned on and the accelerator pushed, the vehicle emits high levels of substances such as hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxide.
Rattling is a result of thermal shock. This happens when the converter, after reaching a full state of heating, suddenly comes into contact with a cooling agent of extreme temperature, such as snow. The extreme change in temperature results in cracking of the ceramic substrate. The converter housing then contracts on account of this change. This causes the rattling sound when the now-compact converter comes into contact with another substance.
A foul odor is another symptom of catalytic converter damage or failure. When there is excessive heating in the ceramic monolith due to the wrong fuel or a fuel mixture that is too rich, the converter can become damaged. The improper fuel mixture can result in too much hydrogen sulfide in the emissions, resulting in the converter giving off the odor of rotten eggs.
When the vehicle runs over road debris or suffers damage due to an accident or a collision, there could be a variety of changes in performance of the converter. These symptoms differ depending on the nature of the damage to the converter.
- Photo Credit "Rhys Millen" is Copyrighted by Flickr user: www.ericcastro.biz (Eric Castro) under the Creative Commons Attribution license.
Toyota Catalytic Converter Problems
Though it could just as easily be a case of varying fuel quality as one of planned obsolescence, the fact remains that...
What Are the Symptoms of a Bad Catalytic Converter?
It's not easy to diagnose without a mechanic, but numerous symptoms can point to a bad catalytic converter. The catalytic converter's purpose...
How to Check an Engine Catalytic Converter
Many times, a failing catalytic converter is only detected when the vehicle fails an emissions test. However, problems with the catalytic converter...
Symptoms of a Faulty Catalytic Converter in a Subaru Legacy
The catalytic converter is one of the most important emission inventions for the automobile. It cleans pollutants from engine exhaust by filtering...
What Causes Catalytic Converters to Fail?
Catalytic converters are required in all automobiles by the Environmental Protection Agency. Cars burn fuel that release harmful gases. The catalytic converter...