Catalytic Converters

NorCal Muffler & Truck Inc.What is a Catalytic Converter?

A catalytic converter is a device that uses a catalyst to convert three harmful compounds in car exhaust into harmless compounds.

The three harmful compounds are:

  • Hydrocarbons (in the form of unburned gasoline)
  • Carbon monoxide (formed by the combustion of gasoline)
  • Nitrogen oxides (created when the heat in the engine forces nitrogen in the air to combine with oxygen)

Carbon monoxide is a poison for any air-breathing animal. Nitrogen oxides lead to smog and acid rain, and hydrocarbons produce smog.
In a catalytic converter, the catalyst (in the form of platinum and palladium) is coated onto a ceramic honeycomb or ceramic beads that are housed in a muffler-like package attached to the exhaust pipe. The catalyst helps to convert carbon monoxide into carbon dioxide. It converts the hydrocarbons into carbon dioxide and water. It also converts the nitrogen oxides back into nitrogen and oxygen. (

Why does a catalytic converter fail?

  • Misfire
  • Poor tune up
  • Driving with the check engine light on
  • Old age of vehicle or converter
  • A crack or puncture
  • It becomes clogged or contaminated

What are some signs that I may need to replace my catalytic converter?

  • The check engine light is on
  • You do not pass a SMOG or emissions test
  • Vehicle Function or speed is decreasing
  • Catalytic converter is rattling
  • Loss of vehicle power
  • Drop in gas mileage

The catalytic converter is a necessary part of your vehicle, therefore it is important to understand some of the symptoms that may mean your catalytic converter is broken or failing. If your check engine light is on, it may be because your catalytic converter is broken, clogged or just worn out. Additionally, if your vehicle speed is decreasing (e.g. if you push on the gas and your car delays before accelerating) then you may need to replace your catalytic converter. At NORCAL muffler our experts can diagnose your catalytic converter and assist you with solutions to your problem.

Call NORCAL Muffler for your vehicle inspection today.