DETROIT – Cars have made our commute easy, but we cannot overlook the toll they take on the environment. Apart from being responsible for high fuel consumption, cars are a leading source of global greenhouse gas emissions. They produce carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, and particulate matter that impact the environment and human health alike. 

The catalytic converters sitting between the muffler and exhaust keep a check on the harmful gases released in the environment. Catalytic converter, also called ‘cat’, is responsible for keeping toxic gases like carbon monoxide, nitric oxide, and unburned hydrocarbons produced by the car from mixing with the outside air that we inhale. It filters these gases before they enter the atmosphere.

Owing to the important role it plays in maintaining the air quality and health, it is imperative to keep it in its best form. Although it doesn’t need replacement or repair too often, it can fail. 

Now how to know that the catalytic converter of your car has gone bad? Read further to know the symptoms of an inefficient, bad, or clogged catalytic car converter. 

  • No power during acceleration 

Inadequate acceleration is one of the most common issues that occur when your catalytic converter is clogged. It happens when the internal structure melts because of excess heat produced from the unburned fuel or when a high carbon build-up clogs it. 

When the exhaust flow is restricted because of the clogged converter, the engine fails to work at peak power. So, even when you accelerate, your car doesn’t get the power. 

Check the catalytic converter, and clean the carbon build-up to restore the exhaust flow. 

  • Bad smell from the exhaust

If a rotten egg-like smell bothers your olfactory senses when you sit in your car, it is an indication of a bad catalytic converter. 

Gasoline contains sulfur, which is converted to hydrogen sulfide by combustion. The catalytic converter converts this smelly sulfide into sulfur dioxide, which is odorless. An inefficient catalytic converter does not convert the gases. The traces of hydrogen sulfide present in the exhaust causes a rotten egg-like smell. 

  • Rattling noise from the car

If you often hear a rattling sound coming from your car when driving or even while idling, a part of the catalytic converter may have fallen apart due to damage or excessive heat. 

Procrastinating catalytic converter replacement, in this case, can lead to further damage as the broken pieces may travel to the exhaust system and muffler, causing your car to stop.

  • ‘Check Engine Light’ is on 

Check your dashboard. If the ‘Check Engine Light’ is on, it means that your catalytic converter isn’t working properly. 

The latest vehicles come equipped with oxygen sensors that check the gas levels in the exhaust and alert you when the catalytic converter isn’t functioning. 

Although an illuminated light on the dashboard can mean many things, you will, at least, know that there is some problem in the vehicle. 

  • Reduced fuel economy 

A blocked catalytic converter hinders the airflow, and your car burns more fuel. Also, when you don’t get power while accelerating, you step on the pedal more. The engine then injects more fuel into the cylinders enriching the fuel mixture much more than what is required. 

Although reduced fuel economy alone isn’t a potent symptom of a bad catalytic converter, if you are experiencing it along with one or more of the above-listed symptoms, it may be because of a bad catalytic converter. 

The bottom line 

If not attended on time, a bad catalytic converter can damage your vehicle and the environment. So, keep an eye out for these symptoms and get the catalytic converter cleaned or replaced as per the need. 

This column was provided by Jenny Patel.