Modern vehicles have a catalytic converter to help control emissions produced by internal combustion engines. The catalytic converter, or “cat” for short, is a component of the exhaust system that converts harmful pollutants into less harmful emissions.
When the catalytic converter works correctly, you won’t notice its presence. When the cat starts to fail, it definitely makes itself known. The most common sign of a problem with your catalytic converter is the noxious smell of rotten eggs.
If you have an emissions test performed, you will learn exactly which part of the catalytic converter has failed. Your technician can also perform an analysis of the exhaust gases to identify the fail point. In most cases, the failure results from a thick layer of contaminants on the walls or clogs in your catalytic converter.
If the cat is indeed failing you will need to have it replaced at that point to restore your vehicle's low emission status and overall performance. In addition to an increase in harmful emissions, continuing to drive with a faulty cat can result in a loss of power, especially during initial acceleration.
Unfortunately, you cannot have your catalytic converter replaced with a used unit to save money. The sale of used cats is against the law due to the strict regulations surrounding emission control systems. Luckily, you can have your technician source a new catalytic converter within a short time period to quickly return your car to the road.