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6 Causes of Catalytic Converter Damage

Your catalytic converter filters exhaust and improves the efficiency of your engine. With no moving parts, it is assumed that your converter will last a long time. However, it is still an active part of your engine. Certain engine conditions can cause damage to your catalytic converter causing you to need repairs or even a replacement converter to restore your engine efficiency. Keep reading to discover six causes of catalytic converter damage.

mechanic repairing catalytic converter

1. Burning Oil in the Engine

An old or poorly maintained engine will sometimes burn oil. This will send burnt oil fumes into the catalytic converter, which can foul the converter itself. Burnt oil can come from worn cylinder walls, stuck rings, and valve guides that have worn out.  

2. Unburned Fuel from Spark Plug Misfires

When spark plugs don't fire correctly, fuel may not be properly heated into vapor. At the same time, your catalytic converter functions by becoming very hot. If unburnt fuel gets into the hot converter, it can ignite. This can cause a partial or complete melting of the ceramic in your catalyst.

3. Oil in the Exhaust

An engine that is not functioning right may release oil into the catalytic converter like a type of mechanical indigestion. When the oil hits the hot walls of the converter, it will burn instantly and create a thick carbon soot. This coats and can clog the airways of the converter, especially the ceramic honeycomb-shaped catalyst. 

4. Antifreeze in the Exhaust

The same burning and soot problem can happen if antifreeze is somehow released into the catalytic converter. This soot can stop the exhaust filtration process and even cause exhaust backflow.

5. Undercarriage Damage

It is possible for severe undercarriage damage from road debris, a deep pothole, or a car accident to damage your catalytic converter.

6. Improper Installation

Lastly, if your catalytic converter was poorly installed, it is much more likely to take damage from engine contamination or impacts on the undercarriage.

Repair or Replace Your Catalytic Converter

If your exhaust filtration system is not working correctly, you can have your catalytic converter and entire exhaust system inspected, repaired or replaced at Custom Complete Automotive. Contact us to schedule your inspection!

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About the Author
Eric Riddles

Eric Riddles is an ASE Certified Master Automobile Technician who has been working as an auto mechanic since 1998 and originally joined the team at Custom Complete Automotive in 2005. Eric has numerous certifications in various aspects of car repair and spent 10 years training the next generation of auto technicians at a local high school Auto Shop classroom.

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