What can lead to catalytic converter failure?

Trust Geller's Automotive in Byram, New Jersey, for your catalytic converter repair needs.

Part of your vehicle’s exhaust system, the catalytic converter has the important job of preventing harmful pollutants from entering the air. It’s made out of several precious metals (usually platinum and palladium) that act as a chemical catalyst to convert the gases coming through your vehicle’s exhaust. Because of the metals it contains, this part is quite expensive to replace if it fails. Knowing how to take care of the catalytic converter will help you avoid this repair bill.

Here are some of the main culprits of a bad catalytic converter:

  1. Not having the engine tuned up – An out-of-tune engine causes a lot of wear and tear on your vehicle, especially the catalytic converter. That’s because an engine that is out of tune will bring about an air/fuel mixture that is incorrect, improper timing, and/or spark plugs that are misfiring. All these conditions affect the exhaust that is released from the engine which, in turn, affects the operation of the catalytic converter. If it’s left to go on for too long, the catalytic converter will fail.
  2. Too much fuel is entering the exhaust system – Your engine runs properly based on an exact mixture of fuel and air. As the fuel enters the combustion chamber in your engine, it should be completely ignited. If any is left to enter the exhaust system, it will then ignite when it reaches the catalytic converter. The catalytic converter is designed to run hot, but the ignition of the unburnt fuel will cause it to heat beyond normal operating temperatures. To prevent this from happening, it’s important to have the engine tuned regularly so as to avoid incorrect timing and other problems associated with corroded spark plugs and/or bad spark plug wires. It’s also important to replace any faulty parts, like the oxygen sensor, a sticking float, faulty fuel injector of malfunctioning valve right away. Read more about how you can prevent the most expensive car repairs.
  3. Not maintaining the cooling system – When the cooling system isn’t maintained regularly so as to prevent engine overheating, coolant/antifreeze can begin to leak into a cracked intake manifold gasket or cylinder head gasket. When this happens, the coolant will either mix with the engine oil or be burned with the air-fuel mixture. Not only will this cause major engine damage, but the antifreeze can enter the exhaust system and block the air passages with a heavy carbon-like soot. These carbon deposits will prevent the catalytic converter from doing its job of reducing harmful gases in the exhaust. The carbon deposits can also clog the pores of the ceramic catalyst blocking exhaust flow.
  4. Not taking care of a “Check Engine” or “Service Engine Soon” light issue – The Check Engine and Service Engine Soon lights aren’t telling you to have the oil change. These lights are triggered when there is a problem with the emissions. If you don’t get this issue resolved, it could cause a myriad of problems including having to replace the catalytic converter (read more about the Check Engine Light here).

The best way to avoid an expensive catalytic converter repair is to maintain your vehicle on a regular basis. The certified technicians in our auto repair shop in Byram, New Jersey, complete a courtesy inspection each time you bring your vehicle to us for service. We also keep a detailed service history on your vehicle. That way we can let you know when it’s time for a tune-up, you need to have the coolant replaced, or there’s another engine issue that should be addressed. Click here to schedule service or repair with Geller’s Automotive.