Common Catalytic Converter Problems & How To Fix Them


Common Catalytic Converter Problems & How To Fix Them


Tips To Consider If Your Catalytic Converter Is Failing

Are you having problems with your catalytic converter? Don’t worry, there is always a solution.

Having an issue with the catalytic converter may lead to engine failure, so it’s crucial to address the problem shortly. However, having issues with this component doesn’t necessarily mean you have to replace it.

You may be able to fix your catalytic converter without much effort. According to a Tempe auto repair shop, all you have to do is to consider these tips.

A catalytic converter repaired by an Arizona mechanic


How Do Catalytic Converters Work?

Today’s vehicles are cleaner than previous ones, partly because of emission control devices, such as catalytic converters.

Your engine combines fuel with oxygen in the air, leading to a spark of compression. This chemical reaction should leave only motive energy like water vapor and carbon dioxide. But, in real-world driving situations, this “ideal” condition is difficult to achieve, leading to harmful emissions.

Catalytic converters use precious metals to oxidize your vehicle’s emissions, reducing the harmful effect. As a result, these items convert the emissions into safer compounds like nitrogen (N2) and water vapor (H2O). Since they require metals like palladium and rhodium to work, they are quite expensive (up to USD1,000 without installation).


How Can I Know If My Catalytic Converter Is Failing?

Among the symptoms of a failing catalytic converter are:

  • Poor engine performance: It usually indicates a clogged catalytic converter. A clogged or damaged catalytic converter “oppresses” the engine, preventing it from “exhaling” the exhaust.
  • The smell of sulfur or rotten eggs from the exhaust: It is caused by the formation of hydrogen sulfide (H2S), a sign of catalytic converter contamination.
  • Rattling noise from the engine.
  • Only Tempe mechanics can diagnose when it’s time to replace your catalytic converter. But, you should always check your car if you notice any of the previous signs.

    Potential Issues With Catalytic Converters

    Catalytic converters should last at least 10 years, but they can become overheated or physically damaged over time. This damage can lead to sluggish engine performance and even engine shutdown.

    Sometimes, catalytic converters get contaminated by leaded gas, although it is rare to find it in the U.S. Other contaminants include engine coolant and engine oil. Engine coolant can leak into the combustion system and damage the catalytic converter within a few weeks.
    These contaminants give off harsh fluids that can clog the catalytic converter. With a clogged catalytic converter, the exhaust gasses cannot pass through. If the exhaust flow is restricted, less air can get into the engine, leading to poor performance.

    Overheated catalytic converters are also common. They tend to overheat if there’s an excessive amount of unburned gas due to a misfiring spark. Failed oxygen sensors can also cause overheating.


    How Can I Solve The Issue?

    There are some classic ways to solve catalytic converter problems before contacting Mesa mechanics, including:

  • Changing Fuel: A different fuel or fuel “additive” may clean out the “cat” deposits. If you typically fill your car with low-octane fuel, try running the car on a few tanks of other fuel, such as high-octane fuel. You can also try adding one gallon of lacquer thinner to ten gallons of gas at your next refuel.
  • Getting An “Italian Tune-Up”: The “Italian Tune-Up” is a common fix for many automotive problems, and a clogged catalytic converter is not excluded. You only have to drive the vehicle at high engine speed (RPM) and load. Running a vehicle harder than usual can heat the converter and burn off deposits in the catalytic converter.
  • Considering Maintenance: You have to follow your vehicle’s recommended maintenance schedule, and in addition to that, you have to give your catalytic converter proper maintenance. Remove it and clean it when necessary, and use a pressure washer to get rid of any contaminants from the matrix.
  • Don’t Ignore the Check-engine light: If the check engine light (MIL) illuminates, the engine may be running in an open loop. In other words, the engine may be running too lean or too rich, leading to serious damage to the catalytic converter.

    Contact Tempe Auto Repairs

    Most of the time, the best option is to contact professionals. If you are having problems with your catalytic converter, let the experts at Scottsdale Muffler And Automotive help you.

    Scottsdale Muffler And Automotive offer numerous automotive services, including replacing engines and transmissions, muffler repair, and tuning up vehicles. We also provide affordable prices so you don’t have to worry about your budget.

    Feel free to reach out to us by email or phone, we’ll be happy to help you.


    Published By: Chris McCurdy
    Scottsdale Muffler & Automotive
    1710 E Curry Rd
    Tempe, AZ 85281

    Office: 480-994-4741

    Office Hours:
    Monday: 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
    Tuesday: 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
    Wednesday: 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
    Thursday: 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
    Friday: 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.


    Posted: May 4, 2022