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All About Your Car's Catalytic Converter

July 31, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 168

Most of us have heard of catalytic converters and know vaguely that they filter the exhaust fumes to reduce the number of harmful compounds that are released into the environment. Many of us will also be aware that when they go wrong it is one of the more costly car repairs as it has to be replaced as a unit. Hopefully your catalytic converter will live a long and happy life, but just in case, here are a few facts about them to help you understand why they are so important.

What is a catalytic converter?

As part of your car's exhaust system, the catalytic converter sits underneath the car between the engine and the muffler. While it looks similar to the muffler on the exterior, inside is a core of ceramic beads covered with pores which are coated with certain catalysts. These include palladium, platinum and rhodium. Platinum is an oxidation catalyst, rhodium is a reduction catalyst and palladium does both.

How does it work?

The catalytic converter works to reduce the emission of harmful gases such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbons. All the gases from the engine pass through the converter and the muffler. As they pass across the ceramic beads a chemical reaction occurs which changes the gases into water vapour and other harmless gases. The oxidation catalysts convert the carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons into carbon dioxide and water, while the reduction catalysts convert nitrogen oxide into its constituent parts of nitrogen and oxygen.

How do they go wrong?

Catalytic converters can become clogged, but checking this is difficult for your car repair technician. It will often have to be removed to see if the engine's performance then improves; if it does then the it is blocked. Signs that you might experience are sluggishness on acceleration and reduced fuel economy. Other parts of your car can also cause the converter to fail - bad exhaust valves or dodgy plugs leading to unburned fuel overheating your catalytic converter. Finally, it can be effectively poisoned if you use the wrong fuel - leaded petrol in particular, although this is less common now that new petrol cars run on unleaded fuel.

What can you do to keep your catalytic converter in good condition?

Using the right fuel is crucial, and not adding too many fuel additives (it's best to avoid these in general unless recommended by your garage). Ensuring the ignition system is working properly will also help maintain the converter as it will stop unburnt fuel getting inside it.

FastFit Station offer good old-fashioned service delivered by fast-fitters at great, all-inclusive prices! We provide high quality servicing, MOTs, tyres, exhausts, brakes and more to the Milton Keynes area.

Source: EzineArticles
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