Why Does My Car Have a Catalytic Converter and What Is the Role of the Unit?

Talking With An Automobile Mechanic

If you have been told by your mechanic that the problems you have been noticing lately are caused by the catalytic converter, you probably ask yourself the question “why does my car have a catalytic converter?” Why can it not go without it? Here are some details about the role of catalytic converters and why they are essential components in your car.

What Does a Catalytic Converter Do?

Catalytic converters are components of the car’s exhaust system that use various sensors to analyse the composition of the gases produced by the engine while burning fuel and other components to transform the noxious gases into less harmful chemicals that can be exhausted safely, without polluting the environment. The types of polluting gases that catalytic converters process are oxides of nitrogen, water vapour and hydrocarbons, all broken down prior to leaving the car’s exhaust system.

The first catalytic converter was invented in the 1930’s, but it did not become widespread until the 1970’s, when emission control regulations started to become more stringent and new technologies were needed to allow car makers to meet the new requirements. In the US, all cars manufactured after 1975 are required to have a catalytic converter and all modern cars in the world that use electronic fuel systems instead of carburettors are fitted with catalytic converters today. It is illegal to replace the exhaust system of a car that has a catalytic converter with a straight exhaust line that has no converter unit – though the process may add a few horses to the power of the car engine, the bypassing of the converter would increase noxious emissions to an unacceptable level and would also have a negative impact on the longevity of the car’s exhaust system as well on the life expectancy of the engine.  To find Denver catalytic converters technicians just visit a local mechanic shop, almost every mechanic is well trained in their operation.

The Components and the Placement of the Catalytic Converter

Catalytic converters have the following parts:

  • The catalyst support – made from ceramic material or metallic foil and featuring a honeycomb structure, the support is the part to which the catalyst is fixed;
  • The washcoat – this part is made from aluminium oxide, silicone dioxide or titanium dioxide and it plays the role of filtering the chemicals that reach into the converter;
  • Ceria – this component is added to promote the storage of oxygen;
  • The catalyst itself that has the role of processing the noxious gases in the presence of a precious metal, such as platinum, rhodium or other types.

Catalytic converters are located inside the car’s exhaust system, usually in a part of the exhaust manifold underneath the vehicle, maintaining a certain distance from the engine to ensure that the catalytic converter functions in the temperature range that is optimal for the chemical processes it is responsible for.


To answer your question “why does my car have a catalytic converter”, here is the short version of the answer: because modern cars cannot exist without their catalytic converters, because it is mandatory and because the catalytic converter is necessary for making sure that you can operate your car in a sustainable and responsible manner, without harming the natural environment.


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