Your vehicle’s catalytic converter is an important component located in your car’s exhaust system. It is designed to reduce vehicle emissions by converting the emissions your engine produces into non-harmful gases, helping protect the environment. Modern catalytic converters have a long lifespan, generally lasting between 70,000 – 100,000 miles. However, the component may need to be replaced after this duration. So, how do you know if you have a bad or failing catalytic converter?
Symptoms Of A Bad Or Failing Catalytic Converter
1. Your car fails its emissions test
A bad or failing catalytic converter doesn’t always cause noticeable symptoms or trigger the ‘check engine light’. In fact, some people may not realize this component is on its way out until they take their car in for their emissions test.
In older vehicles, emissions tests are done with a wand that clips onto or sits inside the exhaust pipe. Since there are many potential reasons your car can fail an emissions test, a failing catalytic converter may or may not be the culprit. You’ll need to take your car to a mechanic to diagnose the exact problems.
Modern vehicles, on the other hand, are plugged directly into a computer that analyzes the codes stored in your vehicle’s computer. There is a specific code that indicates your vehicle has a faulty catalytic converter, so you can be certain of the culprit when you leave the emissions testing facility.
2. Your engine doesn’t perform like it used to
From your transmission to your spark plugs, reduced engine performance can stem from many potential issues, one of which is a bad or failing catalytic converter.
Why does this happen? When your exhaust system gets clogged, it changes the flow of your exhaust and prevents your engine from working as efficiently as it normally does. A clogged catalytic converter can impact your engine’s performance, especially on hills. It can also impact your car’s fuel economy.
3. You smell… eggs?
The smell of rotten eggs is the farthest thing from that coveted ‘new car smell’, and it’s also a symptom of a bad or failing catalytic converter. Unless you have actually left eggs in your car and they’ve gone bad, you’re actually smelling sulfur.
What causes this smell? When gasoline combusts during an engine cycle, it produces hydrogen sulfide – the source of the sulfurous smell. The catalytic converter’s job is to convert this into sulfur dioxide, which is odorless. A catalytic converter that isn’t working at 100% won’t convert all of the hydrogen sulfide into an odorless gas, allowing that ‘rotten egg’ smell through.
4. Shake, rattle, and… rattle
There are few car problems that are harder to miss than the sound of something rattling. Rattles can come from anywhere in your car, from under the hood, inside the cabin, in the trunk, and everywhere in-between.
If your rattle is coming from beneath your vehicle, it’s possible your catalytic converter is in trouble. Why is this? The internal workings of your catalytic converter can become damaged from age, excessive heat, or even from road debris. This damage can cause part of the structure inside your catalytic converter to break off, causing that rattle.
4. Your check engine light is on
There are dozens of reasons your check engine light might be illuminated, one of which is a bad or failing catalytic converter. Your vehicle’s computer monitors your catalytic converter’s efficiency, so if it detects that the component is not processing the gases properly or operating correctly, it can trigger the check engine light.
If your check engine light is on in addition to any of the symptoms we have discussed, there’s a greater chance your catalytic converter may be the culprit. However, the only way to be certain of the cause – and to turn the check engine light off – is by having your car assessed by your mechanic.
Keep Your Car In Top Condition With T3 Atlanta
Your catalytic converter is important to keep your car working properly and prevent excessive amounts of emissions from harming the environment. If you’ve noticed any of the symptoms above and want to make sure your car is in top condition, give T3 Atlanta a call. Our service centers are open and practicing recommended social distancing and cleaning guidelines to protect both our staff and our guests. With over 25 years of experience servicing Lexus, Toyota, Nissan, and Infiniti vehicles, we will be sure to get you back on the road quickly.