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Q: I have a check engine light on due to the catalytic converter. Can I still drive?

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Wondering if I'd be able to drive 20 mins and back and not have to worry about breaking down

My car has 125000 miles.
My car has an automatic transmission.

A: Hi, thanks for writing in. I’d be happy to ...

Hi, thanks for writing in. I’d be happy to offer my insight about your catalytic converter warning light.

The catalytic converter as you may know is what converts toxic exhaust gases into less harmful materials to be expelled into the environment. When this is clogged (think of a backed up sink) or damaged, it causes the exhaust gases to not be released properly. This can cause the converter to become red hot. This can cause a fire hazard if, within those 20 minutes of driving, you were to run over anything in the road (i.e. trash or garbage bag), or were to park somewhere with leaves or anything flammable. Additionally, in terms of breaking down, depending on how bad the converter is, the car computer may shut it down or force it into a "safe mode" if the O2 sensors detect too much fuel present in the exhaust gases.

If you would like help, consider having an expert automotive technician from YourMechanic come to your home or office to inspect your catalytic converter for you, and make or suggest any repairs as needed.

Hope this helps and best of luck.

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