Posted January 30, 2015
Do you ever wonder which car repairs are the most common and which are the most avoidable? Based on numbers from CarMD which gathers its data from vehicle repairs submitted by both car owners and technicians, the third most common car repair is…
Replacing your catalytic converter.
In 2010, this repair constituted 6.4% of all repairs, and the average cost was $1001.74. It was the costliest repair of the top 10 car repairs, but it’s one that could be easily avoided with the right amount of forethought and maintenance. What is a catalytic converter, anyway?
A catalytic converter is a vehicle emissions control device incorporated into the exhaust system that converts pollutant gases into less harmful ones by catalyzing a redox reaction. Three toxic compounds – hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, and nitrogen oxides – are converted into carbon dioxide, water, and nitrogen. Without this process cars would be churning out poison and compounds that contribute to the creation of smog and acid rain. So the catalytic converter has a very important function for both human and environmental health.
The outside of a catalytic converter looks like a muffler, while inside it looks like a honeycomb or set of passages which allow for the passage of gases. These are covered with catalysts that cause the chemical reaction to occur.
Catalytic converters are designed to last the lifetime of the car, but they can fail in several ways, either through clogging or poisoning, or because of bad engine exhaust valves or fouled plugs which cause the converter to overheat. Your catalytic converter may be failing if you notice that your car will not accelerate or that it has significantly worse gas mileage. A completely clogged catalytic converter will cause the engine to stall after only a few minutes due to exhaust back pressure.
To prevent damage to your catalytic converter, you need to stay on top of system maintenance. This includes checking spark plugs, spark plugs wires, the oxygen sensor, and the exhaust valves. Leaking oil or other engine fluids can also destroy your catalytic converter. The good thing is that if your auto garage is consistent and reliable about conducting periodic inspections this kind of damage will never occur. Replacing spark plugs or wires is simple and comparatively inexpensive. A capable mechanic will catch other necessary repairs with either a system check or a visual inspection.
If you are concerned about your car’s catalytic converter or its general condition, ask your mechanic to look things over when you take it in for your next oil change. We at Veenstra’s take pride in making sure our customer’s cars are in good shape when we return them to the road for you to drive.