Latest Industry News

Emissions: What is a Catalytic Converter?

Emissions: What is a Catalytic Converter?

You’re cruising down the road care free when a yellow/orange engine light beams from your dash. It aggressively glares at you until you finally acknowledge to investigate. A local auto parts store scans the code for you and tell you it’s an emissions code for your catalytic converter. He quickly scurries off before explaining anymore about what that means. Many used cars in Fairfax, Va are driven with check engine light codes on for catalytic converters.Your car has been running seamingly fine; what could possibly be wrong? And how expensive could it be?

Catalytic converters are most important to states and counties that are concerned with emissions.

Emissions tests are done in areas that are concerned with pollution output. By ensuring that used cars in Fairfax, Va and surrounding emission counties pass emission tests, the area ensures that they do not exceed certain pollution levels. Virginia is unique in that the upper counties typically require emission tests while the lower counties (below Fairfax) do not. A check engine light for a catalytic converter may be more concerning for owners of used cars in Fairfax, Va and higher counties than customers with vehicles in the lower counties because they cannot legally be driven without an annual passed emission test.

The catalytic converter is part of the exhaust system on the vehicle. Its job is to collect harmful carbon monoxide, nitrogen, and hydrocarbons produced from the engine and convert them into carbon dioxide. Chemistry aside, it works similarly to a dryer vent that collects lint. A functioning converter takes care of itself to ensure it does not get gunked up. A converter that is not operating properly is like a dryer vent that is not cleaned out. You can still use your dryer and it may appear to be working fine, but each time you use it the vent will get more and more clogged. Eventually, the vent will no longer be able to breathe. Our mechanics at our Buy Here Pay Here lot at Airport Auto Sales suggest planning the repair within six months.

Depending on how much you drive, the condition and age of the vehicle, and length of time the engine light has been on the catalytic converter may be fine for six months to a few years. Pay attention to the driveability of your vehicle if you are not able to address the repair immediately. Any changes in driveability should be taken seriously and addressed with a mechanic. Costs can vastly differ depending on the vehicle but can vary between $600 to $1600. Since this repair is typically not an immediate concern, using the time to get multiple repair quotes is best.

While a check engine light for a catalytic converter may feel alarming, this costly repair usually allows you time to save up. Once you have diagnosed your vehicle with a mechanic either at our Buy Here Pay Here lot at Airport Auto Sales or elsewhere, you can plan how soon you might be able to afford the repair.

Back to top