The catalytic converter runs at extremely hot temperatures and is designed to trap and incinerate some of the worst elements of exhaust emissions. A failing catalytic converter will restrict exhaust flow to a point where it kills performance, fuel economy and may even cause a no-start condition. Shop Advance for catalytic converters from MagnaFlow, Walker, Bosal and others.
The catalytic converter was one of the first measures toward emission control on vehicles back in the 1970s. Converters have an internal temperature of around 800 ºF, with a honeycomb structure of iridium, rhodium, palladium and other semi-precious metals. The extreme temperatures and the reaction with the metals in the honeycomb will break down and oxidize the nitric oxide, nitrogen dioxide, and other unburnt pollutants in the exhaust stream and render them into harmless carbon dioxide and water vapor. Prior to the mid-70s, gasoline was available with tetraethyl lead as an anti-knock agent, until it was discovered to be a major pollutant. Leaded gasoline can quickly destroy the internal surfaces of a catalytic converter, so unleaded fuel became the norm.
Generally, a catalytic converter will last the entire life cycle of a vehicle - but not always. A rich-running condition where raw fuel or partly-burned fuel is dumped through the exhaust system can melt the internal parts of a catalytic converter. A converter can also quickly be ruined by oil or coolant in the exhaust stream, which of course means major engine problems that should be repaired before addressing the converter.
A vehicle with a clogged catalytic converter will show poor fuel economy, poor performance and drivability, and may refuse to start. A failed converter will also register a trouble code and illuminate the dashboard Check Engine light. If you suspect this is your vehicle's problem, Advance Auto Parts offers a full line of OEM-quality catalytic converters that can get you back on the road again.
While catalytic converters will often last the life of a vehicle, they occasionally will fail. Common signs of a failing catalytic converter include a check engine light, sluggish acceleration, a sulphuric 'rotton egg' smell and reduced fuel efficiency. Also keep in mind that a failed catalytic converter might be the result of another problem that has allowed coolant or unburned fuel into the exhaust, so be sure to diagnose other possible issues first to prevent premature failure of the new part.