Uh oh. Your car threw a check engine light again. What’s wrong with it now? If the codes come back as your catalytic converter or a possible catalyst problem, you or your mechanic might suspect either the oxygen (O2) sensor or the catalytic converter. So, do you really need to change out your catalytic converter?
Do I Have to Change Out the Catalytic Converter?
Like most questions in life, the answer is a definite maybe. Before you start shelling out serious money to replace the catalytic converter, you need to understand what the problem is exactly. This is why knowing the codes your car gives you is very important. When either you or your mechanic reads the codes, look them up and see what the engine is trying to tell you. In most cases, the chip is telling you what it is seeing and the code may or may not point to the catalytic converter. Signs that you may need a new catalytic converter include:
Most catalytic converters nowadays should last 150,000 miles or more. Check your vehicles’s owner’s guide for when you need to check or service your catalytic converter. Unless you have damaged your catalytic converter physically, it should perform correctly until around the manufacturer’s recommendation for possible replacement time.
Oxygen Sensor Failure Can Act Like a Failed Catalytic Converter
That being said, sometimes a failed O2 sensor can cause your car to act and look like it has a failed catalytic converter. For example, if the O2 sensor doesn’t allow the powertrain control module (PCM) to work properly and your engine will run rich, thus causing more emissions. When your engine runs rich, you’ll have a host of other problems as well.
If your car was made in 1996 or is newer, it has an on board diagnostic II (OBD II) system that actually tests your catalytic converter to see if it is allowing more emissions, hence that annoying check engine light. At this stage, it’s a good idea to look up the manufacturer’s recommendations for troubleshooting for your specific vehicle when it the car gives you a code. Because the manufacturers all have their own codes and procedures, understanding what you should do once you receive this invaluable check engine light is very important. It can help you not only diagnose your cranky car, but can also save you money by understanding what part or parts you might need to replace on it.
Replacing a failed oxygen sensor may be all that you need to do, but be aware that older catalytic converters may not play well with them. Likewise, when you change out your catalytic converter, you’ll need to change out your O2 sensors. Contact us at Standard Auto Parts. We can help you figure out what you need, whether it’s a new catalytic converter or an O2 sensor.
2020 Hollins Ferry Road
Baltimore, MD 21230
1010 W North Ave
Baltimore, MD 21217
49 New Plant Ct
Owings Mills, MD 21117
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