How Can I Tell if My Catalytic Converter Is Going Bad?

Most people don’t think about the catalytic converters in their cars, trucks, or SUVs until they go bad. This is because this silent hero really doesn’t need too much attention. If the converter does go bad, however, you will be faced with serious engine and exhaust trouble. You can tell you have a problem with the catalytic converter if any of the following happens, but let’s talk about the converter itself first.

Catalytic Converter and Your Vehicle

The catalytic converter is part of a vehicle’s exhaust system and its primary job is to convert toxic pollutants into safe ones before they are pushed through the tailpipe. You’ll find the catalytic converter between the engine and muffler, as it is the last line of environmental defense. The converter uses catalysts (coded beads and metals) to turn the harmful gases into safe ones, and the part will last, on average, about 10 years. If there is something wrong with your catalytic converter, your vehicle will not pass an emissions test because it is releasing harmful gas instead of treated gas into the air.

Other Signs of Catalytic Converter Problems

Aside from an emission failure, your catalytic converter will tell you it’s in trouble with other signs. These signs are hard to miss, thankfully, and you will notice any of the following if your catalytic converter is clogged or in the process of dying:

  • Your engine performance will be reduced to sluggish and unreliable performance.
  • This includes a reduction in your vehicle’s ability to accelerate.
  • You may also notice dark or black exhaust coming from your tailpipe due to unconverted gases.
  • If you smell rotten eggs or sulfur, this is a sign your catalytic converter is not doing its job.
  • Your engine will overheat and you may feel excessive heat coming from underneath your car, truck, or SUV.

It’s important that you take action the minute you notice any of these signs because a clogged or dying catalytic converter can cause serious engine damage, especially if the engine overheats. Your exhaust system is also hooked up to your automobile’s onboard computer chip and a problem with the catalytic converter usually returns a Check Engine light warning. This, in tandem with any of the above signs pretty much points the finger to the catalytic converter.

Trinity Auto Care is a full-service shop in White Bear Lake, MN, that maintains and repairs vehicle exhaust systems along with just about everything else. If you think you’ve got a catalytic converter problem, call us today.

Photo by Esther Kelletor from Getty Images Pro

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