Does A Catalytic Converter Improve Performance?
A catalytic converter (also called as cats) is an exhaust emission control device. It was invented by a French chemical engineer named Eugene Houndry back in April 6, 1954. Furthermore, it reduces toxic gasses produced by an internal combustion engine. But does a catalytic converter improve performance? Read on to find out.
How does a catalytic converter work?
There are different kinds of catalytic converters. They all use a catalyst (substance that makes the chemical reaction faster).
The catalytic converter tackles the three most harmful emissions which are:
- Hydrocarbons (in the form of unburned gasoline)- produces smog
- Carbon monoxide (formed by combustion of gasoline)- Poisonous especially when inhaled
- Nitrogen oxides (created when nitrogen is forced in the air to combine with oxygen) – Leads to smog and acid rain
There are two types of catalysts. The first one is the reduction catalyst. It uses platinum and rhodium. This reduces nitrogen oxide emissions by ripping off the nitrogen atoms. The end result will be a separate nitrogen and oxygen molecules.
The second one is the oxidation catalyst. It uses platinum and palladium. This burns the carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons in the exhaust. The end result will be cleaner oxygen. It converts the hydrocarbons into water and oxygen. Finally, carbon monoxide is converted into carbon dioxide.
How the catalytic converters work:
- First, the harmful gases’ molecules are pumped from the engine past the honeycomb catalyst.
- Then, the catalyst splits up the molecules into their separate atoms.
- Finally, the atoms recombine into molecules of harmless substances. The toxic gasses turn into carbon dioxide, water and nitrogen. This blows out safely through the exhaust.
Three-way catalytic converter is the most used converter especially for gas engines. Engines that run on diesel could use the two –way oxidation cats. This cat only tackles carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons.
The two way catalytic converter performs two simultaneous tasks of oxidation. It converts carbon monoxide to carbon dioxide. It also converts hydrocarbons into carbon dioxide and water.
Two-way oxidation converter doesn’t have a reduction catalyst. It cannot convert nitrogen oxides. This is the reason why in some countries, this converter is not used.
Bigger diesel engine vehicles could use many cat units. It is to be fitted in parallel of the engine and tailpipe. This will help it cope with the bigger exhaust gas volume.
How does a catalytic converter improve performance?
A catalytic converter is an essential part of a car. It reduces hazardous compound in the exhaust like hydrocarbon. In doing this, it increases the gas mileage and the car’s performance.
To make the reduction better, you can upgrade to a high-flow catalytic converter. One cat is okay but having two is better. It increases the car’s flow capability. Furthermore, it increases the power (and speed) across the RPM range. Finally, it also reduces car emissions faster.
4 Signs of a Failing Catalytic Converter
A failing or broken catalytic converter will affect your mileage. It can also damage parts of the car’s exhaust system.
The following are signs of a failing catalytic converter:
1. Check Engine Light
The engine light being on can be one sign that the catalytic converter is failing. You need a proper diagnosis to make sure that the problem is indeed in the cat converter.
2. Decreased Gas Mileage
A decrease in mileage could be due to a clogged catalytic converter. A failing cat causes gas consumption increase even during a short period of time.
3. Decreased Performance
If there is a clog in the converter, the exhaust build-up reduces the car’s performance. It might feel like the car doesn’t have acceleration or it can even fail to start-up.
4. Rattling Noises
The catalytic converter consists of small, honeycomb-shaped components. These components can cause rattling sounds when it is not working correctly. If the cat converter is broken, the rattling sound is loudest when you start the car.
It is wise to get the catalytic converter checked if you experience two or more of these signs.
Replacing a broken catalytic converter can be costly. Therefore, it is still better to have it checked rather than driving with it that can cause bigger problems in the long run. There are online sites that offer repairs or check-ups that are a little cheaper. You can check those sites for more information.
Conclusion – Does A Catalytic Converter Improve Performance?
Some may say that a catalytic converter reduce their car’s horsepower and decide to remove it.
It is not wise to remove or strip (removing part/s of the converter). It can damage both the exhaust and the car. In some countries it is illegal to drive a car without a catalytic converter.
Catalytic converters improve the car’s performance in terms of gas mileage and speed.