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What Happens When The Catalytic Converter Goes Bad?

If you like a clean environment, a catalytic converter just might be the favorite part of your car. That’s because this piece of equipment minimizes harmful emissions coming out of your tailpipe. In essence, the converter breaks down or burns up toxic substances and renders them inert by the time they leave your exhaust system. When you multiply this across the millions of vehicles on the road today, the converter plays a vital role in keeping our air and waterways clean of many types of toxic chemicals.

When the unit goes bad, more dangerous chemicals are spewed into the air. Your unit also plays a role in how your car runs so you might notice a more sluggish engine when it starts to go bad. It’s also possible you could experience some additional heat coming from the exhaust system, a potentially dangerous situation. Your best bet is to clean or replace the unit in a timely manner.

Common Problems of Catalytic Converters

The good news is that your exhaust system is built to last many years. Eventually, though, components wear out. As you know, nothing on your vehicle lasts forever, and this is true of catalytic converters. Problems that plague this part of your exhaust system include the following:

  • Normal wear and tear
  • Clogging
  • Physical damage
  • Contamination
  • Overheating

When your unit is near the end of its lifespan, it is important to replace it. The catalytic converter cost ranges from about a low of $950 to a high of perhaps $2500. Factors that determine cost include the make and model of your vehicle, the labor charge from your mechanic and the manufacturer of the unit. In some situations, you might be able to clean a clogged converter and get a couple of more years out of the unit. If you are a decent mechanic, you might be able to do the installation yourself, especially if you buy a direct fit model made especially for your car.

How To Tell Your Catalytic Converter Has Gone Bad

The signs of a bad converter range from subtle to obvious. Your gas mileage could decrease. You also might notice bad smells and dark exhaust coming from your tailpipe. Your engine might stall and balk from time to time, and the cruise control might no longer work. The most obvious sign is the check engine light comes on when you drive. Failure to replace the system could result in a number of bad things: engine damage, poor performance and even an engine fire.

VIN lookup is a free service from your neighborhood auto store that allows you to precisely identify your car and match the perfect replacement components to the vehicle. This 17-digit code can be found on your vehicle, usually on the front dashboard or inside the driver’s side door, but it is also on your vehicle title and your insurance information. Using this number is a great way to find specific parts for your vehicle without fail. Shop online for all your vehicle needs and get a great selection and affordable prices.