HOW TO TELL BAD CATALYTIC CONVERTER SYMPTOMS
Very few car parts last for the entire life of a vehicle, but a catalytic converter attached to a properly running engine can last for years. As part of the vehicle’s exhaust system, the catalytic converter uses heavy metals to chemically react with exhaust gasses and reduce the number of harmful pollutants entering the atmosphere. When a catalytic converter isn’t working properly, you may not be able to register your vehicle for on-road use and its engine performance will be negatively affected.
WARNING SIGNS OF A BAD CATALYTIC CONVERTER
If your vehicle has any of these warning signs, then your old catalytic converter may need to be replaced.
- Check engine light: If you have a 1996-or-newer (OBDII) vehicle, a check engine light may indicate a problem with your catalytic converter. A diagnostic scan tool plugged into the OBDII port under the dash may show a P0420 or P0430 code.
- Sulfur smell: If you smell rotten eggs when your vehicle is running, then the catalytic converter may not be catalyzing the sulfur in the exhaust gas.
- Emissions test failure
- Exterior discoloration
- Sluggish acceleration
- Decreased fuel economy
- Hard-start/no-start engine condition
If any of the warning signs are present, then two at-home tests may help identify a bad catalytic converter. If you don’t have the tools or the inclination, then an auto repair/muffler shop, dealer or mechanic can perform these tests for you.
- Exhaust temperature: Once the engine is up to normal operating temperature, measure the exhaust temperature directly, before and after the converter, using an infrared thermometer. If there is a big difference (at least 100 degrees), then the converter may need to be replaced. A large temperature difference can result from a clogged converter that traps exhaust gasses and makes it less efficient.
- Engine vacuum: If there is no check engine light on or your vehicle was built before 1996 (pre-OBDII), then an engine vacuum test may be necessary if there are other warning signs. When the engine is idling, hook up a vacuum gauge to the intake manifold and record the reading. Then, rev the engine to 2,500 RPM (a helper will make this easier) and observe the measurement again. If the gauge doesn’t return to a similar reading as it showed when idling, or it is very slow to do so, the converter could be faulty.
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CA Approved Catalytic Converter
Catalytic Converter WARNING:
Catalytic Converters are emission control devices that are designed to last the life of the vehicle, do not normally require replacement without cause. A check engine light for catalytic efficiency does not by itself condemn a catalytic converter. There could be another reason or even more parts that have failed and do not necessarily require a catalytic converter replacement. Hence per example an oxygen sensor not functioning correctly. Your vehicle should be diagnosed properly before a catalytic converter is to be replaced. If you would like to schedule an appointment for a complete diagnosis click here.
My car has a PO420! Does that mean my converter is bad?
NO. The P0420 code, by definition reads “bank one Catalyst Efficiency low” as a result most people will just replace the converter. A vehicle displaying this code is indicating that something is causing the converter to operate out of specification. Furthermore, a diagnostic and certainly an inspection are required before condemning any parts as “bad” or defective.
While you still may need a catalytic converter. FMS can perform a Catalytic Converter Pre-Test. The inspection is free with the purchase of needed components to correct the issue. Please make an appointment to drop the vehicle off for the complete inspection.
How can I determine my cars emissions certification levels?
All vehicles will come with a VECI (Vehicle Emission Control Information) label located in the engine compartment.
How do I know that the catalytic converter I purchase is (CARB) California Air Resource Board approved?
You can check with CARB on the approval for your car or truck by contacting the Helpline at 1-800-242-4450. You may also contact FMS for a quote or another opinion. Finally you may click this link to select your search https://ssl.arb.ca.gov/AftermarketParts/catalysts
What is the Warranty on a Replacement CA Approved Catalytic Converter?
Federal EPA regulates a 2 year or 25,000 mile guarantee
California CARB regulates a 5 year or 50,000 mile guarantee
Factory replacement converters from the dealer have a warranty for 1 year or 12,000 miles. Most noteworthy is cars have a 8 year 80,000 mile warranty on the OE converter the vehicle came with. If your car is within the 8/80 certainly call your dealership with your VIN number so they may assist you with the warranty information.
Can I use a catalytic converter cleaner on my car?
Yes, we suggest Cataclean by Mr Gasket. Cataclean contains solvents that can break down deposits formed by oxidation and polymerization of hydrocarbon in fuel delivery systems. Cataclean also includes acetone which is known to improve the efficiency of fuel combustion. Acetone has been used in race cars to enhance octane rating and make fuel burn more evenly and completely. When Cataclean combusts, carboxylic acids, aldehydes and active peroxy compounds are formed. These compounds in the exhaust vapors work to clean the surfaces inside the converter. The result is the removal of deposits from the surface of the core, which increases the catalyst’s ability to remove harmful exhaust emissions such as, carbon monoxide & nitrogen oxides.
Can I use a Universal Catalytic Converter?
First of all universal CA Approved Catalytic Converter are designed to be installed by a professional installer because they typically require some welding. The Direct Fit catalytic converter is designed so you may unbolt the original and bolt back on the replacement. For that reason the Emission compliance of the converters will meet or exceed Fed or CARB standards.
What is a High Flow catalytic converter?
Most high flow catalytic converters flow higher than OE in flow capacity. The 400 CPI cell density of most high flow catalytic converters will out flow an OE for the same application while providing the necessary functionality.
Catalytic Converter Manufacturers
What is a Oxygen Sensor?
The Oxygen Sensor monitors the amount of residual oxygen in the exhaust. Before being released into the atmosphere, exhaust gases pass through a catalyst. Because this is where toxic substances in the gases are purified. In order to increase the efficiency of the catalytic converter, the combustion of injected fuel and inhaled atmospheric oxygen must be precisely controlled at the right ratio. Finally, the Engine ECU (computer) uses information provided by the oxygen sensor to detect the difference between the actual air-fuel ratio and the ideal air-fuel ratio to adjust the amount of fuel injection.
When should my Oxygen Sensor be replaced?
The oxygen sensors are not among the maintenance items that need to be replaced regularly, like oil and air filters, so they typically are replaced only when they fail.
Oxygen sensors are a critical component of the fuel and emissions systems because they monitor the amount of oxygen in the exhaust. For that reason they transmit the information to the engine computer. Besides that it adjusts the air-to-fuel ratio accordingly. If an oxygen sensor fails, the engine computer won’t be able to correctly set the air-fuel ratio. Which could also result in lower fuel economy. While consequently raising emissions and damage to other components, such as an overheated catalytic converter.
Signs you need an Oxygen Sensor.
No vehicle that we’re aware of has a warning light that signals when an oxygen sensor has failed. So as a result you have to rely on other vital signs to alert you when you have a bad oxygen sensor. Such as the check-engine light on the dashboard illuminating and increased fuel usage.
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