We Buy All Cars, Running or Not!

What Does A Catalytic Converter Do and Why Is It Important To The Vehicle?

Catalytic Converter

The catalytic converter is a very important component in your vehicle, and without a good catalytic converter, you can't pass the emission test with this vehicle. The main question here is, what does a catalytic converter do?

Auto Repairs Are EXPENSIVE

The catalytic converter converts harmful emissions generated by the engine into less harmful gases that can be released to the environment. Without this device, your vehicle could continuously generate gases that could harm and pollutes the environment.

In this article, we help you understand the purpose of installing a catalytic converter in the vehicle. We will also provide you with general highlights about where to find this part and how much it costs to replace a catalytic converter. Finally, we will provide general information about the symptoms of a bad catalytic converter. 

What does a catalytic converter do? 


The catalytic converter is one of the most important items in your vehicle. It was added in 1975 to every vehicle in the United States.

This part aims to control emissions from cars and release harmless emissions from the exhaust system.

if you don't know, in any engine combustion system, there are many harmful gases generated as the engine tries to generate the energy. These gases can be very harmful and bad for the environment.

By installing a catalytic converter, you're helping your vehicle treat these harmful gases and converting them into something less harmful.

Where is the catalytic converter located?

Since the catalytic converter supports the exhaust system, it's usually located somewhere behind the engine and around the exhaust system. If you're looking for your car's catalytic converter's exact location, you might need to refer to your vehicle. Owner's manual because it differs by car type, model, and year.

If you don't have a copy of your vehicle's owner's manual, you can always request a copy from your mechanic or download a soft copy from the Internet.

Nowadays, with advanced technology, it might be helpful to search through YouTube and find a video to locate the Cadillac converter in your vehicle.

What are the different harmful gases generated by the combustion system?


The catalytic converter is responsible for converting all harmful gases into less harmful gases before leaving the environment.

In any combustion system, harmful gases are generated as byproducts, along with the required amount of energy needed.

There are three types of harmful gases generated all the time in any combustion system, including:

  1. Hydrocarbons 
  2. Carbon monoxide
  3. Nitrogen oxides

Every harmful gas requires a certain type of treatment to be converted into a less harmful gas.

For example, nitrogen oxides need to be broken down into nitrogen and oxygen. On the other hand, hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide need to be oxygenated by adding extra oxygen to less harmful gases.

The catalytic converter can take care of both processes and change any harmful gas into less harmful gases. 

How exactly does the catalytic converter changes harmful gases into less harmful gases?


If you are looking for more details about the process happening inside the catalytic converter, it's important to understand that there are two stages where the harmful emissions are treated in the catalytic converter: 

  • A reduction stage


In the reduction stage, a harmful gas is reduced and converted into two different harmless gases. For example, one of the most common harmful gases generated in any combustion system is nitrogen oxides.

The nitrogen oxides are considered harmful, and if the catalytic converter can convert them and break them down into nitrogen and oxygen gas, it's no longer harmful.

And that's what the first stage does. When the emission passes through some specific structure coated with platinum, the coating can breakdown nitrogen oxides into two harmless gases, including nitrogen and oxygen. 

  • An oxidation stage 

In the second stage of the Catalytic converters processes, the catalytic converter deals with carbon monoxide by oxidizing them.

In other words, the oxygen that was generated in the first stage can be used to oxidize the carbon monoxide further. Once the carbon monoxide passes through a certain structure coated with platinum, carbon monoxide is converted into some carbon dioxide. 

As you noticed, the purpose of all the treatments associated with the catalytic converter involves converting bad gases into less harmful gases. And as you noticed, nitrogen oxide was converted into both nitrogen and oxygen gases. Then, the oxygen gas was used to treat the carbon monoxide and convert it into carbon dioxide, which is less harmful. 

How is the catalytic converter controlled and monitored?

Since the catalytic converter's main job is to convert bad and harmful gases into less harmful gases, this converter needs to understand how many gases are available and entering the exhaust system.

In other words, the catalytic converter requires a certain level of oxygen to be always available to help in the oxidation process. That's why the catalytic converter works together with the vehicle's control system.

The catalytic converter can send signals to the control system informing that there is not enough oxygen in the exhaust system. It's needed to be fitted to the exhaust system. The Catalytic converter also helps inform the required amount of fuel-air mixture needed to weather generate more or less oxygen in the combustion system. 

How do I know if my catalytic converter is going bad?

Catalytic converter should last for up to 10 years. However, like any other vehicle components, the catalytic converter can go bad sometimes before.

Luckily, the catalytic converter can tell you that it's going bad before it even does because there are very common signs of a bad catalytic converter, including:

  • You will find it hard to start your vehicle.
  • You will notice a significant reduction in your fuel economy.
  • Sometimes the check engine lights might eliminate.
  • Your vehicle will not pass the emission test 
  • You'll start smelling some rotten egg smell 
  • Sometimes, if the catalytic converter is going bad, you will start seeing black smoke coming out of the exhaust system 


  • If your catalytic converter is not OK, you will start hearing some rustling sound as you start your vehicle. 


Can I drive with a bad catalytic converter?

In general, the catalytic converter should not prevent you from driving your vehicle, especially if it's not clogged completely.

However, it's important to keep in mind that the mortgage you drive your vehicle with a bad part, the more you will introduce additional complicated problems that could cost you any money.

Our experts advise you that whenever you have issues with the catalytic converter, you must take your vehicle to a professional mechanic and inspect it. Once you do a detailed inspection, it's important to immediately take care of any problem to prevent paying additional high repair costs. 

The other thing you need to keep in mind is attempting to repair the catalytic converter on your own. if you don’t have the required mechanical skills to repair a catalytic converter, it is never a good idea to work on fixing it by yourself because you might introduce additional problems which could cost you a lot more.

Even if it can be costly, unfortunately the best option for you is to consult an experienced mechanic for catalytic converter’s repairs.

How much does it cost to replace a catalytic converter?

Your catalytic converter is one of your vehicle's most expensive parts, and sometimes it costs you somewhere between $1300 and $1600.


Yes, repair costs are high when it comes to the catalytic converter, and you must make an informed decision before paying any penny and replacing the catalytic converter.

In other words, if you know that your car is suffering from additional other problems and the repair costs are getting close to the value of the vehicle, it might not be worth repairing it.

If your car is at high mileage and additional problems are expected shortly, it might not be worth repairing the catalytic converter.

Then, what would I do?


Great question! If your car is not worth repairing the catalytic converter, you have a better option of junking this vehicle. Our company can move your car within one to three days from getting in touch with us.

We can tow your vehicle free of charge despite your living location in the United States. Will come to your house or office and remove the vehicle and then hand you the cash payment right on the spot.

All you need to do is get in touch with our team and give us a call to receive your instant offer that will be generated within 30 seconds from your call. 

Can I make my catalytic converter last longer?


Yes! By now, you know that the catalytic converter is expected to last for up to 10 years. However, if you don't take good care of it, it might not last for this long.

There are some general recommendations and good practices yet that you could follow to maintain a longer life for your catalytic converter, including:

  1. Performing regular maintenance to your vehicle can help the catalytic converter and help all other components of your vehicle.
  2. It's important always to choose a good type of fuel because if the fuel is not good or contaminated, you are introducing much stress and pressure on the catalytic converter to deal with all these contaminations. By choosing a good and clean fuel, your catalytic converter doesn't have to work as much, and therefore, it can help you by lasting for a longer time.
  3. Many people forget about adding more fuel to their vehicle and running with very little fuel, or no fuel can damage your catalytic converter. Therefore, one of the main recommendations to extend the catalytic converter's lifetime is to ensure that you always have enough fuel in the fuel tank.

What will happen if I don't replace the bad catalytic converter and ignore it?

We understand that replacing a catalytic converter can be very costly, and many people tend to ignore it for a little bit of time because they can't afford it.

By now, you have a full understanding of the catalytic converter's mean job, and when you're running your vehicle without a good catalytic converter, the first thing that you will face is you will not pass the emission test.

The other thing is that your vehicle will continuously generate harmful gases to the environment, and it is never good.

After how many miles should I replace the catalytic converter? 


Some drivers might not find the ten years lifespan very intuitive. Therefore, think about the ten years as somewhere around 7000 to 100,000 miles of your vehicle. Keep in mind that the catalytic converter's lifespan can be affected significantly by your driving habits and the environment that you're living in. 


The catalytic converter is one of your vehicle's most important components, and you must maintain a perfectly working catalytic converter to drive. A bad catalytic converter will not prevent you from driving your vehicle. However, it will prevent you from passing the emission tests, and then you will not be able to drive the vehicle.

The catalytic converter is responsible for converting any harmful emissions from the combustion system into something less harmful than the environment.

The catalytic converter performs some oxidation and breakdown to these harmful gases by passing through a specific structure coated with platinum.

The catalytic converter should last for up to 10 years; however, you might need to replace it even before if you are dealing with the back catalytic converter. Unfortunately, replacing the catalytic converter can be very pricey, and before you decide to repair it, you need to make sure that it's worth repairing this vehicle.

If you decided not to repair this vehicle, you can always sell it to our company to pay you the top cash that this vehicle could ever make around your city. 

© 2022 Cash Cars Buyer. All Rights Reserved. Terms & Conditions | Privacy Policy | Sitemap