5 Symptoms of a Failing Catalytic Converter

A close-up image of a black sedan.

If you suspect you have a failing catalytic converter it is advisable to take your car to a mechanic and have them diagnose the problem. A catalytic converter is a vital part of the vehicle’s exhaust system that works to convert harm­ful gases into safe compounds that can be emitted into the atmosphere and cause less damage to the environment.

This part is placed between the engine and the exhaust muffler on the underside of the car. It is not uncommon for a catalytic converter to fail, since they are usually more subject to external damage like an impact from debris or internal engine damage cause by overheating.

1. Misfiring

Misfiring in the engine system can cause the catalytic converter to overheat. Alternatively, an exceptionally rich fuel mixture will exhibit similar symptoms. When there is a presence of an extra rich fuel mixture, raw fuel enters the catalytic converter and is ignited. The catalyst components can melt under such conditions.

2. Reduced Performance

If exhaust becomes trapped in front of the catalytic converter, there will be a latent reduction in performance. This is created by back pressure, which affects the running of your engine and stops it from breathing.

The sudden increase in back pressure can cause your engine to stall during your drive. It will act as though there is an air lock in your system, making the car jerk or feel like there is no fuel reaching the engine when you push the accelerator.

3. Low Fuel Economy

A failing converter can cause a noticeable decrease in your fuel economy, which will cost you significantly over a very short period of time.

4. Low Performance of the Exhaust System

The cause of a failing catalytic converter can sometimes be traced back to an error in the fuel system. A distinctive sign of this is a restriction in the performance of the exhaust system, indicative of the melting of catalyst materials inside.