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When to replace the catalytic converter in my car?

Many people are afraid of the moment when the catalytic converter needs replacement since such an operation involves considerable expenditures due to the price of the converter itself. When does the converter need to be replaced? What does it involve? Can that part of the exhaust system be replaced with something else?

Purchase of a second-hand car with little money may seem to be a bargain until you find that it requires some small or big repairs. The big ones include the replacement of the catalytic converter.

What is a catalytic converter?

What is really a catalytic converter? A catalytic converter is an exhaust emission control which reduces the amount of harmful pollutants produced during the operation of the engine. It reduces the emission of toxic chemicals which pollute the atmosphere. When viewed from the outside a catalytic converter resembles a can with the interior arranged in the form of a honeycomb. Those parts are coated with noble metals such as palladium or platinum which react with the exhaust gases.

Converter damage

Because of the installation place the catalytic converter is exposed to very high temperatures reaching 400ºC. When driving your car over a puddle a hot converter may crack inside. Sometimes it can also suffer mechanical damage e.g. when hitting a speed bump or any other object. Another reason for problems with the converter can be a malfunctioning ignition system. Additionally, the converter is subjected to regular wear. The usual converter failure indication is the “check engine” light.

Replacement of the catalytic converter

It is said that a converter should usually be replaced after each 80,000 to 100,000 kilometres run. The value, however, is of indicative nature only, as some drivers may use it over a distance which is twice that long. It all depends on how you care of your catalytic converter. The replacement itself is a quite complex operation. It is much easier in cars where the catalytic converter is located under the car as compared to those where the converter is installed in the exhaust manifold. As regards the cost it depends on whether you want to install a new or a reconditioned converter. Once replaced it is recommended to sell the old part at a selected collection point which will let you recover some money spent for the repair.

How to care for a catalytic converter?

To ensure the longest possible life of a catalytic converter you can regularly monitor the functioning of the ignition system, avoid driving over deep puddles and try to run longer distances during a single trip. Proper use of your vehicle will allow avoiding premature replacement of the catalytic converter.

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