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What Is A Catalytic Converter And What Does It Do?

January 9th, 2023

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Catalytic converters hold a variety of designs but are mainly a canteen-shaped box located beneath every fuel-powered vehicle. They are part of your engine's exhaust system and aim to decrease up to 90% of the pollutants that emanate from your engine's fumes. Located within the undercarriage of your car between your exhaust manifold and muffler, a catalytic converter is fairly easy to detach with the right set of tools if it is not safeguarded.

How Does a Catalytic Converter Work?

The basic function of the catalytic converter works to turn harmful engine fumes into the less harmful exhaust for people and the environment. On one side of the catalytic converter is an input pipe from the engine, and on the other side is an output pipe that leads to your car's tailpipe. The converter's interior is lined with a mixture of rare and expensive metals like platinum, rhodium, and palladium. These precious metals alone make the catalytic converter such a valued item for thieves.

By filtering your car's exhaust through a honeycomb-shaped ceramic structure on the interior of the catalytic converter, the coating of unique metals works to reduce emissions by creating a chemical reaction that traps and transforms the toxic gases. Rhodium is the reduction catalyst, palladium is the oxidation catalyst, and platinum does both.

For example, engine fumes coming into the converter hold nitrogen oxide and carbon monoxide. The output, or new emission release, is the less harmful nitrogen, water, carbon dioxide, and oxygen.

What is a Catalytic Converter Made of?

Previously discussing the interior metal coatings consisting of platinum, rhodium, and palladium, the exterior of a catalytic converter housing is typically made of stainless steel with an anti-thermal shield surrounding the housing. The shield is designed to protect other undercarriage parts from the catalytic converter's high temperature.

The interior portion of a catalytic converter also holds a flexible mat cushioning that surrounds the ceramic honeycomb structure. This material helps keep the ceramic honeycomb in place while also assisting in the thermal expansion of the converter body when in use.

There is also an O2 sensor, or oxygen sensor attached before the exterior of the catalytic converter or to the converter itself. Its job is to monitor the O2 levels in the exhaust to evaluate the status of the converter and monitor the air to fuel ratio.

The Pros and Cons of Removing a Catalytic converter

Depending on your state, it is illegal to remove the catalytic converter from your vehicle. The Environmental Protection Agency enacted guidelines that prohibit the permanent removal of pollution-controlled auto parts. If you wish to remove your catalytic converter for performance purposes, double-check with your state regulations before removal.

The pros of removing your catalytic converter are:

  • A possible boost in horsepower with no back-pressure on the engine from the catalytic converter.
  • Your engine operates at lower temperatures.
  • May receive a boost in gas mileage.
  • It is fairly easy to remove your catalytic converter on your own with the correct tools and know-how.

If you plan to remove your catalytic converter on your own, be sure to conduct thorough research on your vehicle model before sliding beneath your undercarriage. Follow the steps to the removal process carefully to avoid mishap or damages.

Aside from performing an illegal catalytic converter removal on your vehicle if your state has deemed it a required part for on-road travel, the cons of removing your catalytic converter are:

  • Creating more emissions that are harmful to pedestrians and the environment.
  • May trigger an error code on your vehicle with the removal of the O2 sensor.
  • Your vehicle will emanate more noise that may be a nuisance to local sound ordinances.
  • You may or will fail state a state vehicle inspection.
  • Your engine will see a drop in torque levels.

Learn More about Catalytic Converters

There is more to learn about catalytic converters so explore our website for more answers to any of your automotive questions. Our products work to keep your catalytic converter secure. Learn more about our company and if you have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact us.