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Keeping Your Car Maintained

Recently, my spouse got into his car to go to work. Before he even made it down our long driveway, his car began making frightening sounds. Afraid to continue driving the vehicle to work, my husband decided to stay home for the day. After investigating the car, he traveled to an auto parts store in my vehicle. He purchased transmission fluid to put in his problematic automobile. Thankfully, the transmission fluid helped the car’s performance. Besides transmission fluid, you can find many other types of items to help you maintain your vehicle at an auto parts store. On this blog, I hope you will discover some of the most sought after items available at auto parts stores today. Enjoy!

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Keeping Your Car Maintained

Troubleshoot Your Catalytic Converter

by Renee Miles

If you own a vehicle, you know that the purchase price is just one of the costs. You also have to factor in repairs, insurance, and more. The repairs can be the most costly part of owning your vehicle, especially since some parts on the car can cost several hundred dollars, plus what it costs to pay the mechanic to fix it. One part that frequently shows signs of wear and tear is the catalytic converter. If you think your catalytic converter may be acting up, read these tips to try to troubleshoot it yourself.

What does a catalytic conveter do?

The catalytic converter is responsible for reducing exhaust emissions like hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, and oxides of nitrogen. It is located at the rear of the vehicle and connects the muffler to the exhaust manifold. The catalytic converter resembles a tiny muffler with a pipe coming out each end. Some vehicles even have two catalytic converters. Certain types of vehicles may have a miniature converter connecting the exhaust manifold to the main converter.

What are the signs of a faulty catalytic converter?

The most common signs reported for a catalytic converter are the following:

  • There is a rattling noise coming from the bottom of the vehicle.
  • The engine begins to stall when it is idling.
  • There is a foul smell coming from the vehicle that smells similar to rotten eggs.
  • The engine frequently loses power.
  • The Check Engine light turns on.

What causes the catalytic converter to become faulty?

A catalytic converter will often become faulty due to engine issues. Performance problems like misfires or too rich of an air-fuel mixture will cause contaminates such as engine oil or coolants to enter the exhaust system and cause problems with the converter.

What steps should be taken to troubleshoot the converter?

If you have any of the above issues listed, you should begin the steps to troubleshoot your catalytic converter:

  • Temperature Test - The test monitors the temperature of the inlet and outlet pipes. The converter should have a temperature 20 or more degrees hotter than the front if it is working properly.
  • Vacuum Test - The test uses a vacuum gauge to measure inches of Mercury when idling and throttling. The gauge needle will drop rapidly if there is a restriction in the muffler or converter.
  • Tap Test - This test requires a rubber mallet, which you will tap against the catalytic converter. If the converter makes a rattling noises, it suggests that the part is faulty, often from hitting a hard object in the road or some other accident.

Considerations

None of the tests above replace the qualified opinion of a mechanic. If you think you are having problems with your catalytic converter, and especially if it failed any of the troubleshooting, you should seek a mechanic's help. Also, never ignore the Check Engine light when it turns on. It's there to alert you of problems with your vehicle.

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