What is a Catalytic Converter?
A catalytic converter is an essential part in most cars that takes the toxic gasses emitted by a vehicle and converts them into non-toxic gasses.
Think about how often you drive your own car. What if every time you drove somewhere you emitted toxic gasses into the air? Now think about all the cars you see on the road each day when you drive. Think of all the toxic gasses that would be emitted into the air. No thanks!
Vehicles that run on petroleum and were manufactured after 1993 have a catalytic converter installed. Petroleum is the liquid mixture that is refined to produce gasoline, kerosene, and diesel oil. Nowadays most cars run on petroleum.
Catalytic converters used to be placed under a car’s hood right next to the engine. This is because a catalytic converter requires an 800-degree temperature to convert gasses from harmful to inert, and the heat given off by a running car engine would heat up the catalytic converter faster. However, this caused some vehicle problems, like vapor lock.
The next solution was to keep catalytic converters under the hood, but farther away from the engine–but this still caused some problems. Now, catalytic converters are kept underneath the vehicle, so they can still absorb heat produced by the vehicle without causing lots of problems.
What Kinds of Catalytic Converters are There?
There are 2 kinds of catalytic converters; a two-way and a three-way. A two-way catalytic converter oxidizes carbon monoxide into carbon dioxide and oxidizes hydrocarbons into carbon dioxide and water. A three-way catalytic converter does everything as a two-way converter, but also controls the emissions of nitic oxide and nitrogen dioxide, which are harmful substances.
Three-way catalytic converters can be less common because there is somewhat of a risk in using them. Sometimes three-way catalytic converters can have an unwanted chemical reaction and produce hydrogen sulfide and ammonia. While precautions have been taken to prevent the production of these harmful substances, eliminating the byproducts entirely is extremely difficult.
How Much do Catalytic Converters Cost?
If you have ever had to replace a catalytic converter, you know how expensive they can be.
Catalytic converters can be expensive because they need to be made from a mixture of precious metals. Platinum, palladium, and rhodium are some of the main precious metals required to make a catalytic converter. Since these metals cannot be externally produced and need to be used in their naturally occurring state, construction of catalytic converts can be tricky, and expensive.
The average cost to fix a catalytic converter can be between $1,317 and $1,594. If you need to replace your catalytic converter but don’t have the immediate funds to do so, there are things you can do to help offset the initial cost, but there is no getting around having this essential piece of equipment installed in your car.
How to Keep a Catalytic Converter in Good Condition
If you want to maintain your catalytic converter for as long as possible, there are some car care precautions you want to take.
First off, you want to make sure your catalytic converter is always clean, so that it is functioning properly, and it doesn’t get muddled up and clogged. There are products you can purchase from auto stores that can clean your catalytic converter, or you can take your car to your trusted mechanic and have them take care of it.
You should also be aware of the signs that occur when your catalytic converter starts slipping up in performance, that way you can know when to get it looked at right away. If you notice blue smoke coming out of your tailpipe, this probably means that there is oil burning inside of your car’s engine which can have a negative effect on the catalytic converter. While blue smoke coming out of your car may look cool, you want to stop this when it happens as soon as possible.
You can also soak your catalytic converter to get it clean. Use a mixture of hot water and degreaser, and let your catalytic converter sit in the mixture for a while, then wipe it off with a rag and any unwanted debris should be gone.
If you are looking for more tips and tricks when it comes to car care, check out our blog! Click here to read more about car repair.