Monday, April 8, 2013

Driving with a check engine light can kill your catalytic converter!

Catalytic Converter Killers
There is no way to rejuvenate a contaminated converter, replacement is the only repair option! Replacing a converters can be extreemly expensive! They varry in prices from $300 up to about $2000 and I am sure there are more expensive ones out there.  Most cars today have up to 4 catalytic converters which can be an enormous expense that can be prevented.  If your engine light is on you should get it checked out ASAP!

Ignoring Check Engine Lights:
So many drivers have seen the engine light pop up after you refueled and by now you know that it's due to the fuel cap not being tightened enough.  You tighten the fuel cap and hope the light will go out sooner or later.  The truth is that as they drive, they could be damaging their catalytic converter.

Worn Out Spark Plugs:
Worn out spark plugs can cause multiple cylinder misfires.  The misfires can damage the catalyst.

Vacuum Leaks:
A vacuum leak is unmetered air entering the combustion chamber.  This can make the vehicle run lean and increase exhaust gas temperatures.  The extreme increase in temperatures can damage the converters.  Most vehicles can compensate for minor vacuum leaks by adding extra fuel but the fuel injectors can only compensate so much.

If your vehicle has a vacuum leak your engine light will be on.  Take your car to a repair shop immediately.  You will not only save your catalytic converter you will see an improvement in your gas mileage, which means more money in your pocket now and years to come.

Bad Oxygen Sensors:

If an oxygen sensor can not measure the oxygen present in the exhaust gases, it can not ensure the right amount of oxygen is present so the converter can burn off hydrocarbons (which are terrible for the environment) Bad oxygen sensors can kill converters.

Have you been to that repair shop who told you don't worry about the engine light, it's, on for the oxygen sensors?  They are wrong, you need to worry, not replacing the oxygen sensors will only lead to you wasting money during the life of your vehicle.  You will be wasting gas and killing your catalytic converter.  Have your engine light checked today, to avoid more expensive repairs down the road.

Leaking Fuel Injectors:

Converter failure is most often when excessive amounts of raw fuel comes into contact with the catalyst and "burns" in the converter instead of in the engine.  The high quantity  of fuel generates temperatures well in excess of the capacity of the conveyer, causing meltdown of the ceramic.  The melted ceramic could block the exhaust path, leading to a significant loss of engine power.  Visibly there would be a discoloration of the converter shell.

Once again if there is something wrong with your fuel injectors your check engine light will come on & there will be a significant decrease in gas mileage.  Your first stop when you're engine light comes on should be to a local auto repair shop so they can diagnose the engine light.  If any reason you pick up your car after the repair was made and your engine light comes back on.  Go back and demand that they repair your vehicle correctly.

Leaking Head Gaskets
A head gasket leak could be so minor it may not even cause the engine to overheat, but it could kill the converter.  Any coolant from a leaking head gasket can kill a converter in a short period of time.  Coolants contain phosphate, silicates and other additives to prevent corrosion, but they can block and contaminate the precious metals of the converter.  Your mechanic should preform a cooling system leak down test before replacing a suspect converter to avoid damage to the newly installed converter.

If a misfire is allowed to go on for too long, it can kill a converter by increasing the temperature of the exhaust gasses or adding unburned fuel.  Thermal or overheating damage occurs when a cylinder misfire causes excessive amounts of unburned gasoline and oxygen to enter the converter.  The catalyst begins to function at 550 F and begins to loose efficiency at 1800 F.  Temperatures above 2500 F will melt the ceramic inside the converter and damage the precious metals.

Leaking o-rings or Valve Seals
If engine oil is making it past the rings or valves and making its way into the combustion chamber, it will damage the converter eventually.  Engine oil contains sulfur, silicon, zinc, and prosperous that can bind the precious metals of the converters biscuits.  These chemicals prevent the converter from braking down unburned hydrocarbons.  If the platinum, palladium and rhodium catalysts inside the converter become coated with any other elements it can prevent them from triggering the chemical reactions that are necessary to clean up the exhaust.  The efficiency of the catalyst drops way down or ceases altogether, causing an increase of emissions out the tailpipe.
Pamela McLaughlin
Community Service Station of Madison Inc.
346 Main Street Madison, NJ 07940
973-377-9774 & 973-966-0853

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