A catalytic converter (or “cat”) is the part of your car or truck’s exhaust that takes the pollutants out of your exhaust. Some vehicles have more than one, and diesel cars and trucks has a type of converter that uses diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) to cut emissions.
How Does a Catalytic Converter Work?
When your engine burns fuel, it makes a vapor that’s toxic to the environment. The raw exhaust that comes from your engine carries a mix of poisonous gasses. Your cat uses a filter made of rare metals to convert this pollution into CO² and water. While some recent studies have linked CO² to climate change, it’s still relatively harmless compared to the exhaust coming out of the engine. Like all filters, your cat can get clogged over time, especially if you have an engine that burns oil.
Why is My Catalytic Converter Important?
Aside from keeping our air clean, your cat also provides back pressure to your engine that makes it run more efficiently. This means that if you have a bad cat, you’re engine will lose power and fuel economy.
Also, running a car or truck on the road without a cat is illegal. So run straight pipe custom exhaust on the street at your own risk.
Catalytic Converter Maintenance
Cats are expensive–some cost over $1000 to replace–you should take care of yours as best you can. Since a catalytic converter has no moving parts, you won’t have to do much maintenance on it.
The two things that kill most cats are clogging and impact damage.
You can use a fuel additive to clean your converter and keep it from getting clogged. This may prolong its life. Mechanics recommend using these cleaners about once per year to clean soot and other buildup from your exhaust. Acetone and lacquer thinner are said to be able to clean your cat, too. However, our mechanics recommend that you don’t add them to your fuel. They are not made for engine use, and could harm your engine or fuel system. If you use acetone or lacquer thinner to clean your cat, remove it and soak it in acetone or lacquer thinner to break down thick buildup.
Also, never remove the heat shield on your cat. This shield helps protect the converter from direct impacts while you drive.