Your catalytic converter is a durable, essential part of your vehicle’s exhaust system. It should last a fairly long time, but as with other components, it can fail prematurely for a variety of reasons. One reason for failure is blunt trauma when something hard hits your unit. This can happen as the result of an accident, or you could run over a high point (think rocks or logs) in the road.
More, commonly, though, catalytic converters fail due to old age or to engine issues that impact the air/fuel mixture coming into the unit, or by the introduction of substances that the converter is not equipped to handle. If caught early enough, the cat might be able to be saved; if caught too late, a replacement will be necessary. Here are three common reasons a cat requires replacement:
- Neglected engine maintenance that results in fuel or oil fouling the converter
- Damaged oxygen sensor that results in a too rich or too lean fuel mixture
- Bad spark plugs or wires that force unburned fuel into the exhaust system
Proper maintenance and oil changes can prevent more expensive issues. Any time the check engine light comes on, it is time to look under the hood or visit your mechanic.
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Common Problems of Catalytic Converters
If your cat is beginning to fail, you will start seeing signs of trouble, this often comes in the form of a rotten egg odor issuing from the tailpipe. At first, the odor is faint and intermittent, but over time the smell will become more persistent. This is an indication that the unit is clogged with residue that impairs its performance. It also likely means that it isn’t doing its primary job: cleaning the emissions that go into the air.
Other signs of a failing cat include the blinking of the check engine light, the presence of plumes of dark smoke coming out of the tailpipe and the deterioration of engine performance. At this time, you should look into how much does a catalytic converter cost.
The good news is that you can save money by buying your unit from a quality, trusted auto parts store. You will find a wide selection of converters on sale, ranging from as little as $200 and going up to about $1,400.
How To Fix A Catalytic Converter
You can replace your failing cat yourself and save hundreds of dollars in labor charges. To make sure you get the right unit for your vehicle, use the VIN lookup to match your vehicle’s specs with the new part. The old unit will need to be removed and the new unit will need to be installed. If this job is beyond your mechanical skills, you can use a Shop Referral Program that hooks you up with a trusted mechanic in your area.
Whether you are in the market for a new catalytic converter or some other component, you can shop online or in-person for quality parts. You will get the part you need at a solid price.