Catalytic converters are added to cars to cut down on the bad smells coming from the exhaust. They are like a honeycomb made of precious metals that turn the harmful compounds that are made during the combustion process into less harmful ones. When they don’t want to pay for a new one, people ask: “Can I drive with a bad catalytic converter?”
The short answer is that you can drive with a bad catalytic converter but doing this poses threats to the engine as well as the environment.
Table of Contents
Can I Drive with A Bad Catalytic Converter?
If your catalytic converter is bad, it can make the engine overheat, which is not safe to drive. When driving the car, the temperature in the cylinders is about 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the exhaust valves open, the exhaust falls down into the manifold and into the catalytic converter. It will overheat if the catalytic converter gets clogged. All that heat and pressure from the combustion chamber is going to stay inside the engine, and it will cause it to get too hot.
Driving with a bad cat would be bad for the environment as well as bad for the car.
If the catalytic converter is clogged, the pressure and heat that build up in the engine will just go back into the engine and not get out. The heat and the gasses will stay inside the engine. As a result of the extra heat, the engine can very quickly overheat.
Signs of A Bad Catalytic Converter
For now, I’m going to briefly talk about how the engine will give off some clues that the catalytic converter is going bad.
1. Engine’s performance is getting worse
You can expect that the engine’s performance will start to go down and that it will keep getting worse over time. A bad time will happen to your car, and its engine won’t be as quick. It’s very clear when you step on the accelerator of a car and when you’re being pushed.
2. The sound of rattling things
This is a clear sign that your catalytic converter is broken. You’re driving around as normal, but there are so many noises that are making your head spin that this is a good sign. This is usually the sound of some parts in your cat-con moving around. This is one of the most dangerous things that could happen to your car. The loose parts could end up blocking your entire exhaust pipe and stopping your wheels.
3. The smell of rotten eggs and the check engine light on
Finally, the easiest thing to notice is the smell of rotten eggs and the fact that the check engine light is on. This is the last sign. There are usually no problems with the catalytic converter. When it’s blocked up, you can smell the sulfur in the air, which smells a little like rotten eggs because the conversion doesn’t work. Another way to find out if your catalytic converter is bad is to have it checked by an emissions tester
How Long Can You Drive With A Bad Catalytic Converter?
Catalytic converters didn’t even come with cars until 1975. If you own a classic car, it may not even have one. Thus, technically, the car can be driven as long as you want. However, it also depends on how bad the problem is and how far you usually drive to work.
As long as you drive and your problem isn’t too bad, you can keep driving your car even though it hasn’t worked well. If your catalytic converter is a little bad and you only ride to places that are close by, it isn’t likely to be a big deal for you. You don’t need to get it replaced right away or get it unclogged right away. However, your car will use more gas.
As some people call it, “running rich,” your car may be burning too much fuel. This may cause the fibers inside your catalytic converter to get burned. Most of the time, this wouldn’t stop your car from running, but you will see some smoke and smell something while you drive.
If your car’s catalytic converter gets too clogged over time, the worst thing that could happen is that it stops working and you end up stuck on the road. When the components inside the catalytic converter get loose, they can sometimes get stuck in the exhaust pipes.
It takes your engine longer to heat up when you have a bad catalytic converter. If you are going on a long trip, you should be on the lookout for this. Pay careful attention if the surface near the catalytic converter gets very hot, or if the whole cabin gets very hot. Even if there aren’t many chances, a very high temperature in the engine could still start the car on fire.
Catalytic converters aren’t something that wears out quickly and is meant to last for the life of your car. When it comes to machinery, there is no way to know for sure what will happen. They can go bad for any reason.
Hi there! I’m Naomi O’Colman. I’ve got years of experience working at an auto repair shop here in Texas under my belt. On top of that, ever since I was a kid I’ve been passionate about the auto industry. Since I’ve joined the team at automotivegearz.com I’ve been enthusiastically sharing my passion and insights with my readers. I’m dedicated to delivering high quality content and helping you stay up to date with the latest automotive trends and products out there!