Cars are a significant source of emissions. Your catalytic converter helps to protect the environment by converting toxic pollutants into less toxic emissions. A faulty catalytic converter won’t stop you from using your car, but it will increase your carbon footprint.
Because a faulty catalytic converter or o2 sensor only affects performance after the problem has persisted for a while, it can be challenging to know there’s an issue.
In this article, we’ll explain how to tell if you have a bad o2 sensor or catalytic converter. We’ll also provide tips for fixing these problems.
Symptoms of a clogged catalyst
Your car’s catalytic converter not only regulates your emissions but can also extend your engine’s life. Over time, it gets clogged, which can hinder your car’s exhaust.
Symptom # 1: Problems Starting Your Car
A clogged catalytic converter can prevent your car from starting. If the catalytic converter is clogged, the exhaust gas will enter the vehicle. The engine will then not start due to excessive gas pressure.
If your car isn’t starting and there’s no clear explanation, it could be a sign that your catalytic converter is clogged.
Symptom # 2: Poor Fuel Efficiency
If your mileage per gallon drops suddenly, this is another indication you may have a problem with your catalytic converter. A build-up of exhaust gas in the engine robs it of oxygen, causing it to consume more fuel despite producing the same or less performance.
Symptom # 3: Engine Warning Light.
Your car’s warning lights will warn you if something goes wrong. If your vehicle was manufactured after 1996, it has an onboard diagnostic system that automatically tests the catalytic converter. The air-fuel ratio sensor can turn on the check engine light if the tailpipe emits excessive pollution.
Symptom # 4: Failed Vehicle Emissions Test
Since the catalytic converter regulates your car’s emissions, a failed emissions test is likely caused by problems with this part. If the converter isn’t working properly, your car will be emiting more toxic pollutants from the engine.
Symptom # 5: Insufficient acceleration.
The final symptom of a faulty catalytic converter is that your car doesn’t accelerate when you put your foot on the pedal. In addition to being very dangerous, reduced power is an indication of a build-up of exhaust gasses in your engine. If the vehicle is jerky or stalls when accelerating, it may be due to a clogged catalytic converter.
Can a bad O2 sensor cause catalytic converter code?
Yes, a faulty O2 sensor can damage the catalytic converter, in turn triggering the catalytic converter code on your dashboard. If the O2 sensor is sending inaccurate data to your car’s computer chip, this can cause your onboard computer to increase the fuel in the combustion chamber. Excessive fuel can clog and damage your catalytic converter.
What does a failing catalytic converter sound like?
A faulty catalytic converter often emits a rattling sound but is also sometimes silent. The part contains small honeycomb components that can rattle if damaged. If the catalytic converter is faulty, the rattling noise will be loudest when you start the car and worsen over time.
What are the signs a vehicle has a bad O2 sensor?
It’s hard to specifically diagnose when your O2 sensor is broken. A faulty sensor will often trigger the check engine light or the catalytic converter warning code. To verify the exact problem, you’ll need to take your car to the mechanic.
Fortunately, fixing the O2 sensor is a fast and cheap service. However, failing to address the problem can cause further damage and rack up higher costs.
Here are the most common indications that your O2 sensor is broken:
- 1) The Check Engine light is on.
- 2) Your fuel economy has dropped suddenly.
- 3) Sulfur or rotten egg exhaust odor.
- 4) Your car’s exhaust smoke is black.
- .5) Your car fails an emissions test.
- 6) The motor is delayed, skipped, cramped, or has an electrical surge.
How many oxygen sensors does my car have?
This depends on the vehicle, but here’s a simple trick: find out how many of your cars you have. Each vehicle exhaust pipe has a catalytic converter (a component that converts harmful gas into less dangerous gas). Many vehicles have only one catalytic converter, so they only have two oxygen sensors, but some have more than four.
How long does the oxygen sensor usually last?
New vehicles use sensors with heated elements, and these new sensors are close to 100,000 miles or 7-10 years.
Carbon and soot accumulate in these sensors over time. The exhaust stream may contain grease, oil, or other liquids that may adhere to the sensor. For example, the tip of a spark plug wears. A lag or check engine light is the first clue that the sensor has a problem.