One essential component of a modern motor vehicle exhaust system is the catalytic converter. Without going into too much detail, I will explain some basics; the primary function of a catalytic converter is to clean-up harmful gases before being released into the atmosphere.
During the combustion process, harmful pollutants released after the combustion; these are, hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, and nitrogen oxides. Since the 1950s car manufacturers have been looking at ways to reduce these toxic emissions and through development in 1975, the catalytic converter was introduced and has become an integral part of modern motor vehicle exhaust systems. European legislation launched in 1993 where all vehicles manufactured on and after this date had to meet the strict European emission standards.
A catalytic converter works very differently to a DPF which is a (diesel particulate filter) which is only installed on diesel vehicles.
The structure of a catalytic converter is usually a metal casing with a ceramic core. Within these cells lie precious metals such as platinum, palladium and rhodium which create a chemical reaction that breaks down the toxic gases and converts them into less harmful carbon they help save and water vapour and released into the atmosphere.
A typical converter could last up to a hundred thousand miles. However, they can deteriorate very quickly if vehicles are not serviced with correct oils, inferior quality oils or a leak in the system allows oxygen to penetrate, which will damage the converter and render it useless.
A faulty catalytic converter can produce a multitude of issues for the smooth running of an engine. It can reduce your performance, lower your acceleration, emit more than usual dark smoke, can produce the smell of sulphur similar to rotting eggs and in some cases, can cause excessive heat where vehicles have gone up in flames.
The emissions monitored by the oxygen sensors (Lambda sensor) engine diagnostic scan can reveal what part has been damaged and requires replacement. Replacing a catalytic converter with a genuine OEM part can be very expensive; these are usually 400 cell cats and, in some cases, sports cats can be used in specific applications that allow for much freer flow and are available in 100 and 200 cells.
A worst-case scenario is if the catalytic converter breaks down, the broken pieces can become lodged within the exhaust system, causing a blockage. If this happens, there is no way of fishing these pieces out, and the only option is to replace the entire exhaust. If you notice anything untoward is, or the catalytic converter starts to make a sound, it is an excellent time to have it addressed sooner rather than later.
You can run the vehicle over to us where the exhaust technician can conduct the necessary tests and provide you with a diagnosis.