2 Common Problems With Catalytic Converters

If you are concerned about the natural environment, you should also be concerned about the condition of your car’s catalytic converter. The catalytic converter filters and cleans the exhaust fumes generated by your car’s engine, helping to remove harmful compounds, preventing them from being released into the atmosphere. If your catalytic converter is not working properly, it could compromise your performance of your car as well as the natural environment. Below is a guide to how the catalytic converter works and some common problems which can affect it.

How catalytic converters work

The exhaust system in your car is designed to draw the gases generated by the engine through a series of pipes before emitting them out of the exhaust pipe. Before the gas exits the exhaust system, it will pass through your car’s catalytic converter. The catalytic converter consists of a tube which contains a ceramic honeycomb-like structure which is coated with chemicals. The chemicals interact with the gas as it passes through the catalytic converter, transforming them into water, nitrogen and carbon dioxide.

Common problems which can affect catalytic converters


The first sign of overheating is often when the ‘check engine’ light is illuminated. The cause of overheating is often a failed oxygen sensor. The oxygen sensor is located next to the catalytic converter. They are designed to measure the oxygen levels within the exhaust gases. The engine control system uses this information to ensure that the cylinder heads receive the correct air/fuel mix. With the sensor not working, too much fuel is allowed to enter the cylinder heads causing the exhaust system and catalytic converter to overheat.


Another potential problem is that your car’s catalytic converter will become contaminated by oil or coolant leaks. The leaking fuel will often burn up due to the heat of the exhaust gas, which causes particles to enter the converter. If this occurs, the honeycomb structure within the catalytic converter will no longer be able to successfully convert harmful exhaust chemicals.

Your car’s catalytic converter forms the first line of defence against harmful emissions which can damage the environment and exacerbate health problems such as asthma. If your catalytic converter isn’t working in peak condition, your car may also begin to use an increased amount of fuel. If you have any concerns about your catalytic converter, you should book your car in for a full car service with a professional garage.