What exactly is a Catalytic Converter?

When talking about cars you will hear many technical names being banded about. Even if you don’t mix socially with mechanic-types, it pays to know a bit about your car!

What is a Catalytic Converter?

No doubt you have heard this name used a lot if you have ever bought a car whether new or used. Well in lay persons terms this part of your car plays an important role in the emissions control system. It converts the three most harmful gases into a safe compound, one that will not affect the air we all breathe. The three most harmful compounds found in usual exhaust emissions are:

Hydrocarbons: Otherwise known as unburned petrol.

Carbon Monoxide: Formed as the petrol in your car is burned

Nitrogen Oxides: This is created when the heat from the engine pushed the nitrogen into the air to then mix with oxygen.

As you know these gases are harmful for the environment, Carbon Monoxide is poisonous to all living creatures who are subjected to it, Nitrogen Oxides causes acid rain and Hydrocarbons will lead to smog pollution. So it is important that each car is fitted with one of these mechanisms in order to reduce these harmful gases.

In your cars catalytic converter, the catalyst (made with platinum and palladium) is coated over a ceramic honeycomb or beads which are housed in a muffler style section. This contraption is attached to the exhaust pipe.

It is a legal requirement to have a Catalytic Converter fitted to your car and will be something you need to discuss and find out about when buying a car. This part of your vehicle will be on the garage checklist when it comes to MOT testing, like any piece of machinery it will occasionally suffer from a malfunction and break down.

The car mechanics will be able to help with the aid of a ‘Electronic Diagnostics Machine’. They can diagnose the issue and also find out where in the car’s exhaust system it is located. They will be able to do a number of things to sort out any problems. If these do not change the way the system works then replacement maybe the only option. With prolonged use over the years it’s only natural that sections of your car will suffer from wear and tear.

What you can do to prolong the life of your Catalytic Converter:

The catalytic converter is normally located on the underside of your car. In many cases you will be able to feel it’s warmth underneath the passenger seat. This s especially so after a long road trip. In these cases the catalytic converter can become extremely hot, so we do not advise parking your vehicle over a bed of dry grass or dry leaves. Anything that could be easily inflamed such as wood chippings.

Want Driving Lessons recommend that you keep your car in top condition by having it checked every so often. While you can do this yourself ie: The tread on the tyres and water damage etc… A thorough check with a qualified mechanic is also a good idea!

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