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I’ve partnered with Sheridan Nissan, New Castle’s auto dealer, to bring to you this feature: Your Vehicle’s Catalytic Converter- What You Need to Know
Owning a vehicle does not mean you need to be an auto pro to drive the same. But a little education always goes a long way and if you’re like me, having things explained like a child, makes the learning experience so much easier.
Over the course of time, my husband hopes to educate me on the ins and outs of my car…
and yes, you’re invited to come along for the journey.
Your Vehicle’s Catalytic Converter- What You Need to Know
Catalytic converters on vehicles do a great service to the environment, as they are responsible for cleaning the pollution that comes from your vehicle’s combustion engine. Reducing auto emission takes place when a catalytic converter is working properly, while damaged converters may require cheap fixes or replacement.
Catalytic converters do a lot to clean the emission of the vehicle when it’s operating, but they are tricky, sealed, and heavily regulated units that, when gone bad, affect both the performance of the car and its ability to be legally licensed for road use.
When a catalytic converter does go bad, it usually requires full replacement and that can be expensive. While the unit itself is easy to remove and install, it can cost several hundred dollars to purchase. If your catalytic converter has a buildup of carbon or oil, it may be possible to get that off with simple fuel additives that help to burn that stuff away. Some additives are catalytic-specific and are likely your best bet, costing around $20 a bottle. Brush clean the catalytic converter with a tooth brush or something similar.
Another option for a messy or clogged converter is to remove it from the vehicle and soak it in a bath of diluted citric acid. This leaves the platinum and other metals for the catalyst in place without harm and cleans most of the deposits that are likely clogging your converter. The soaking should be overnight or about 6-10 hours.
Common reasons why a catalytic converter can go bad or malfunction.
- Simply replacing a catalytic converter is often just a temporary fix. When a converter goes bad, other things are often to blame such as bad spark plugs. If these go unfixed, a new converter will go bad due to these underlying issues.
- Damaging the oxygen sensor results when silicone is allowed to come into contact with a catalytic converter. A smoking exhaust pipe letting out white fumes is a sign that this is occurring. You can fix this problem inexpensively by sealing the source of entry for the silicone, which is often through a leak in the head gasket. Products available at auto stores can be poured into the radiator to seal the leak.
- Failing an emissions test will likely result from heavy phosphorus contamination to your catalytic converter. Smoking blue fumes coming from your exhaust pipe will often indicate if this is happening. You can fix or contain this issue by switching to an “SJ”-type motor oil as opposed to the “SH”-rated type, which contains higher levels of phosphorus.
Now you know what to look out for to prolong the life of your vehicle’s catalytic converter.