It’s All About Science, Yeah Science!
When your engine is running, it produces a number of fumes that are then passed through the exhaust system and through to the catalytic converter. The catalytic converter, which contains a honeycomb structure made up of precious metals and ceramic block, help filters the fumes into less-harmful chemicals.
The Culprits – Harmful Gases Produced
- Hydrocarbons – This is in the form of unburned gasoline
- Carbon Monoxide – Created by the combustion of gasoline
- Nitrogen Oxide – Produce when the heat of the engine forces nitrogen in the air to combine with oxygen.
The Winners – Converted Gases Exhausted
The harmful chemicals are converted into the following chemicals after the process:
- Carbon Dioxide & Water – Converted from the Hydrocarbons
- Carbon Dioxide – Converted from the Carbon Monoxide, while it is still harmful, it is much less than harmful than Carbon Monoxide
- Nitrogen & Oxygen – Converted from the Nitrogen Oxide, so they are separated back into the air
Those fumes are then passed through the honeycomb and ceramic that makes up the catalytic converter and is passed through the exhaust system with the less harmful fumes. See the video below on how an exhaust system works with the various chemicals.
What Happens When They Breakdown?
When catalytic converters no longer work, they are difficult to diagnose by a mechanic without actually taking the whole unit off of the car. Some telltale signs that your catalytic converter is failing is your car won’t go faster when you press the gas pedal or you see a large drop off in your gas mileage. If your catalytic converter breaks down and it is time to get it replaced, you can bring your old one to a scrap yard and usually get some good money for them.
Not all scrap yards purchase them because they are difficult to classify for the correct price. The range of prices can be from $5 all the way up to $200 per catalytic converter. Find your local scrap yard through the iScrap App and ask them if they accept catalytic converters. If not, you may want to ask around if they know any auto body shops that do.