If you’re like most people, you probably have seen your catalytic converter and thought “What’s the point?” While your catalytic converter may not be as glamorous as your tuned-muffler, it still plays an important role in keeping you safe. These devices have been in use for over half a century now as a powerful way to combat the growing threat of global warming and air pollution.

The original catalytic converter was invented by a French engineer named Eugene Houdry. Originally, this air saving device was used on the smokestacks of factories. It wasn’t until 1975, that the device was modified and shrunken to fit on modern vehicles.

It was right around this time that the effects of air pollution created by vehicles became a major discussion point among environmentalists and industry big wigs. The air in major cities was in dire need of relief and something had to be done to keep the pollution levels from becoming more dangerous, or even toxic. The solution was the catalytic converter.

What is the Job of the Catalytic Converter?

Your catalytic converter reduces the emissions of three dangerous gases. Carbon monoxide, Nitrogen oxide, and hydrocarbons are all significantly reduced by your catalytic converter. These harmful compounds are responsible for smog, acid rain, and carbon monoxide is even lethal in large doses.

How Does a Catalytic Converter Work?

Air pollutants are made up of a combination of harmful molecules. When dissected further, these compounds become harmless atoms. Your catalytic converter uses platinum, or a platinum-like metal to help accomplish this task. When the harmful chemicals come in contact with the heated platinum, the molecules break down into atoms\ and are expelled out our tailpipe. While this doesn’t completely remove air pollution from your vehicle’s exhaust, it reduces the amount your car produces dramatically.

Inside a Catalytic Converter

Inside a Catalytic Converter

How Can I Tell if My Catalytic Converter Goes Bad?

In most cases, a check engine light will appear on your dash if your catalytic converter starts to go bad. Your oxygen sensor monitors the efficiency of your catalytic converter to ensure the device functions properly. Your O2 sensor accomplishes this task by tracking the gas levels in your exhaust. Your car can start to run weird when your catalytic converter becomes clogged.

Can You Drive a Car with a Bad Catalytic Converter?

It depends on how bad your catalytic converter is plugged. If the unit is slightly clogged, you can still operate your vehicle, but you will notice reduced gas mileage. If your catalytic converter is completely plugged, your car will not be able to function.

How Much Does It Cost to Replace Your Catalytic Converter?

Every vehicle is different. In general, replacement costs can range from $300 up to $3000 depending on the year, make, and model of your vehicle. Stop into one of our many Rainbow Muffler locations to get a free estimate on repairing your catalytic converter today.

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