Keeping your car in good condition, having it serviced regularly and maintaining as best you can at home will extend the life of your vehicle and save you costs in repairs and fuel in the long run. Your exhaust is an integral part of your car, and though it can often be ignored as a priority area to keep serviced, looking after your exhaust system and catalytic converter can be a real money-saver.
The catalytic converter (CAT) is one of the most important parts of your vehicle’s exhaust system, and helps to minimise the impact of your car on the environment. A catalytic converter reduced the pollutants released into the atmosphere when your car’s engine is running. But the CAT can only function properly when there is a specific ratio of air to fuel. If there are faults with the engine management system or fuel supply, the catalytic converter may not be able to work correctly, or become damaged.
The CAT sits beneath the car and so is susceptible to bumps and knocks which may also affect its efficiency. Try to avoid curbing the car or going too fast over speed bumps – approach obstacles and bumps at a slight angle so you are not straddling them and therefore putting the underside of your car at risk.
A catalytic converter can be expensive to replace or repair, so it’s worth looking after it! There are several things you can do to keep your CAT working efficiently and avoid costly repairs:
- Keep your car serviced regularly, at an approved and trustworthy garage.
- Always use unleaded fuel with a catalytic converter – just one tank of leaded fuel can completely deactivate a CAT!
- Avoid running out of fuel.
- ‘Grounding out’ your vehicle can knock the catalytic converter and even shatter the ceramic monolith (a part crucial to the conversion process).
- Never bump-start a car that has a CAT installed. Instead, use jump leads.
You can also get a ‘green MOT’, which looks at the CAT’s performance as part of your MOT emissions test. If there is a problem with your catalytic converter, your local garage will be able to either repair or replace a faulty unit. A standard ceramic model will generally be guaranteed for one year, whereas a shatter-proof metallic monolith will give you a three-year guarantee (and is more robust than the ceramic version).
Problems with your exhaust system can end up being costly, but with careful driving, regular car servicing and an experienced exhaust technician, you can extend the life of your exhaust and catalytic converter and save money.