Located between the muffler and engine in a vehicle’s undercarriage, the catalytic converter is an essential component of the exhaust system. Driving with a malfunctioning catalytic converter results in harmful emissions and lowered engine performance. Here’s what to know about this auto part for a smooth, safe ride.

What the Catalytic Converter Does

As the engine burns gas, a portion of the fuel can escape the flame zones and send unburned hydrocarbons to the exhaust system. Unburned fuel contains carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, and other dangerous emissions that pollute the air and harm your health.

A catalytic converter contains ceramic-coded beads, platinum, palladium, and rhodium that work together to change the gases in unburned hydrocarbons into water vapor and carbon dioxide, making exhaust safer.

Common Issues With Catalytic Converters

auto partThe check engine light will typically activate when this auto part malfunctions, so act promptly to protect your health and vehicle. Problems can occur in a range of ways.

Since the catalytic converter sits under the car, hitting a pothole or road obstacle could damage it. 

If a cylinder head gasket breaks, coolant could seep into the catalytic converter. When this auto part gets clogged, exhaust can’t pass through and less oxygen reaches the engine. As a result, you might notice stalling and sluggish performance.

The engine’s spark plugs also affect the catalytic converter. If they are worn and need to be replaced, the engine will misfire often. The unburned fuel will burn in the catalytic converter instead, overwhelming and overheating it. In this situation, you might notice strong exhaust odors.


If you notice any of the above problems with your vehicle, turn to the knowledgeable mechanics at M & R Automotive Service Center in Geneseo, NY. For almost 30 years, the crew has diagnosed and resolved problems to keep drivers of Livingston County safe. Their emissions professionals will help you get back on the road in no time. Visit this auto repair shop online to learn more about their work with exhaust systems, or call (585) 243-1201 to schedule an appointment.