Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

Q: How to tell if I need a new catalytic converter

asked by on

I think I need a new catalytic converter, but I am not sure. How do I have this diagnosed?

Hey thanks for the question, and thats a really good one by the way. As technology has grown so has the demand for more fuel efficient cars that are more friendly on the environment. One way this is achieved is by the use of a "catalyst converter" in your exhaust system. To help you understand how it is diagnosed lets look at what it is and what its job is. Your engine burns gasoline for combustion which is basically a controlled explosion, and the by product of combustion is gases that destroy our ozone and are harmful to the environment. These gases are the blame for "smog" in larger cities and many other environmental hazards. And no matter how efficient we make engines, in the end these gases are still present just in smaller amounts. That is where the catalyst converter comes in. It is installed in your exhaust pipe like a filter before your exhaust is released to air. The catalyst is made up of several layers of precious metals, like titanium, platinum, and rhodium, and these layers of metal form like a honeycomb that your exhaust passes through.

Once the catalyst is heated up, it goes to work as your exhaust passes through the reaction of the carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and hydrocarbons. As it meets those metals those gases are transformed into clean air and water. Yes, water. A little known fact! Haven’t you been behind a car at a red light and seen water dripping out the tail pipe? That is just its converter hard at work.

Now this converter could cause you problems in a couple of different ways, it could fail, causing your check engine light to come on and your car to fail an emission test. Or the plates could melt together causing a major restriction in your exhaust. So you would need the expertise of a certified technician who understands the emission system on your car as well as the exhaust system to fully diagnose your issue, and determine if your catalytic converter needs to be replaced

Was this answer helpful?

Need advice from certified mechanic? Get help now!

Over 1000 mechanics are ready to answer your question.
The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details
  1. Home
  2. Questions
  3. How to tell if I need a new catalytic converter

Get an instant quote for your car

Our certified mechanics come to you ・Backed by 12-month, 12,000-mile guarantee・Fair and transparent pricing

Get a quote

What others are asking

Q: Noise Comes Out From My Engine

Hi there. Our mobile mechanics are really good at diagnosing the problem first, before any repairs are made. We actually recommend having one of our mechanics come to your location and complete a car is making a noise inspection first....

Q: My car engine shutoff while I was driving and I pulled over and tried to restart it but I wouldn't start up

It sounds like you have an electrical issue where the vehicle stalling may be from the charging system and battery lost connections. Your battery could be losing connection from relays clicking on and off, or the battery could be almost...

Q: can i put my catalytic converter from my 2000 dodge caravan on my 2002 town and country van

If it fits you can use it, but if following the letter of the law, it is not legal to use a used converter. This is where you may have a hard time finding a business to replace the parts...

Related articles

How Do Power Car Windows Increase Passenger Safety?
Power windows are responsible for approximately 2,000 emergency room visits every year. When a power window closes, it exerts enough force to bruise or break bones, crush fingers, or restrict an airway. Though...
P0240 OBD-II Trouble Code: Turbocharger Boost Sensor B Circuit Range/Performance
P0240 code definition Turbocharger Boost Sensor B Circuit Range/Performance What the P0240 code means P0240 is an OBD-II generic code triggered when the Engine Control Module (ECM) detects the intake boost...
How to Avoid Back Pain in a Car
If you have back problems, sitting in a car for an extended period of time can be excruciating. Even without back problems, you could experience discomfort and soreness from...