The catalytic converter is one of those parts of your vehicle that it can be easy to forget about. It typically requires very little maintenance or regular oversight, so many drivers are unfamiliar with the part and its maintenance issues. There are a few things that can happen if the catalytic converter does develop a problem, and it is important to know what those maintenance concerns are and how to spot them. It is also important to maintain a fairly standard fuel mixture and to stay within vehicle emissions regulations, to help cut down on the likelihood that your vehicle will develop catalytic converter issues as time goes on.
The most common problem that catalytic converters develop is overheating, and when that happens the check engine light will come on. If the only issue is the catalytic converter, then your local garage will be able to tell by using a computer diagnostic. Sometimes, the oxygen sensor will be the actual culprit, and your catalytic converter will be overheating because of conditions it causes. If that is the case, it is very likely that you will notice a steep decline in vehicle performance until the repair is effected. If it is not the oxygen sensor causing the overheating issue, then you will probably need a new converter, because they also overheat when they are no longer functional.
Another issue that develops in many catalytic converters as they age is contamination that prevents the elements inside the converter from being able to trap carbon. This tends to happen when there is a leak somewhere in the system that causes the fuel mixture to become contaminated. Non-fuel engine fluids can all cause this, but the design of most modern engines makes it most likely to happen when the vehicle is burning oil or when coolant is leaking into the engine. These chemicals can interfere with the emissions control system as they work their way into the exhaust.
The final issue that commonly develops in catalytic converters as they age is clogging. Clogs can develop for a variety of reasons, mostly having to do with local air conditions and your fuel-to-air ratio. Using engine deposit cleaners regularly, running midgrade or premium gasoline, and maintaining a fuel mixture that is in line with local emissions standards are all great ways to prevent the kinds of buildup that can clog catalytic converters. To learn more about catalytic converter replacement in San Diego, check out this website.