What Is A Catalytic Converter And How Do You Look After One?

Catalytic converters have been standard in cars for decades, but most drivers still don’t know anything about them. This is in spite of the fact that catalytic converters are fairly expensive and require regular maintenance. If you take your car for regular services, your catalytic converter will be maintained. However, it is important to know what it is and how you look after it so as to preemptively deal with any issues.

Here’s a brief explanation of what a catalytic converter does before we discuss how you can look after yours.

What is a Catalytic Converter?

A catalytic converter is a device that catches your car’s toxic exhaust gasses and uses a chemical process to make them less toxic. The chemicals within the device catalyze the chemicals of the gasses. In other words, the chemicals interact with each other and form new chemicals, which are less harmful to the environment.

Catalytic converters became standard in the 1970s when governments started cracking down on the dangerous emissions coming primarily from motor vehicles. They are fairly simple mechanical devices. However, they contain expensive parts, made from metals including palladium, platinum, and rhodium. As such, neglect of a catalytic converter can cost you in the long run. Furthermore, they are also attractive to thieves.

How do I maintain my Catalytic Converter?

The good news is that the common causes of catalytic converters breaking down are preventable with regular maintenance. That said, not all problems stem from issues with the same parts of the car.

One of the major issues that may cause catalytic converters to fail is excessively high exhaust temperatures. This can be caused by exhaust leaks in the pipes. Exhaust leaks increase the oxygen levels in the catalytic converter, raising the temperatures within. Checking for exhaust leaks is therefore important for catalytic converter maintenance.

Another issue that causes catalytic converters to break is something called outgassing. Outgassing refers to when the O2 sensor malfunctions and causes incorrect oxygen readings. Outgassing can be caused by silicone parts that overheat, producing a gas that coats the surface of the O2 sensor. To prevent this, avoid using silicone products on the exhaust side of the engine. Teflon is another culprit for outgassing. Don’t use Teflon near your catalytic converter’s O2 sensor.

You should also be aware of any strange smells or blue smoke from your tailpipes. This can be a sign that the catalytic converter is overheating due to engine problems. Maintaining your engine with regular oil changes and annual checks is a great way to prevent this from happening.

Catalytic converter problems don’t begin and end with maintenance. Theft is another issue to consider.

How do I prevent Catalytic Converter theft?

As we mentioned, catalytic converters are constructed using expensive metals. This makes them attractive to thieves. It doesn’t help that they are fairly easy to remove without setting off any car alarms or being noticed.

You can prevent catalytic converter theft by installing an anti-theft device. This usually has the form of a cage which makes it far more difficult for thieves to remove the converter from within. They are not foolproof, but they do make it harder for thieves to steal the catalytic converter than most other car parts.

To get a better understanding of how to prevent this, learn more about catalytic theft. It helps to know exactly how catalytic converter theft happens so that you can take all the preventative measures possible.

If your catalytic converter is stolen, you may be able to receive compensation from your insurance provider. However, if you only have liability and collision insurance, they will not pay for the theft of your catalytic converter. With comprehensive cover, your car is insured for all eventualities. You may still have to pay deductibles, but avoiding the full cost of an expensive converter will still be significant.

Catalytic converters are standard in every car today. Most drivers don’t know anything about them, even though they can be expensive parts to replace. Make sure you maintain your catalytic converter and protect it from potential theft so as to avoid major unexpected expenses.