The catalytic converter is a component of an automobile's emission system. The component works to prevent toxic chemicals like carbon monoxide from leaving the vehicle in unsafe amounts. As beneficial as catalytic converters are to efficient engine combustion, they also encounter several common issues that can negatively affect vehicle operation.
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Improper engine timing can lead to fuel entering the catalytic converter, which overheats the unit. The problem can build slowly over time, causing gradual overheating of the unit, which can plug the catalytic converter; or the issue can be acute, causing immediate converter failure through the burning out of components. This also causes a drop in fuel economy and increases vehicle emissions, such as carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons, according to automotive repair website AA1 Car.
Catalytic converters may become chemical-fouled by leaking oil, antifreeze fluid or transmission fluid entering the component. This inhibits the catalytic converter's ability to regulate emissions. Toxic and ultimately illegal emissions could leak from the vehicle, damaging vehicle components on the way out and adding to the final cost of repair. The issue that leaking fluid causes in the catalytic converter is only a symptom of a larger problem, as the vehicle may have problems with the transmission or engine block if fluids are escaping into the converter.
Physical Converter Damage
Catalytic converters are at risk of physical damage because the component is left exposed as part of the vehicle's emissions system. A stray stone or other random debris encountered on the roadway can bounce up under the vehicle and strike the catalytic converter. Drivers may notice an immediate reduction in engine performance depending on how severe the damage is. Converters that run hot are also sensitive to cold and may crack if cold water or snow touches the converter before it has the opportunity to cool normally.
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