The catalytic converter is one component that even many gear heads don’t fully understand. If your Toyota 4-Runner is showing some odd symptoms, your emissions system may be involved. Learn more about this critical piece of equipment and what you can do to fix it before you order auto parts in-store pickup.
What a Catalytic Converter Does
All drivers know their engines create spent gases that are removed by the exhaust system. Apart from the occasional smog test, most never think about the exhaust fumes directly. The catalytic converter is an emissions control device that transforms the more harmful spent products into less environmentally damaging ones. Especially, carbon monoxide, unburnt hydrocarbons, and oxides of nitrogen are converted into water and carbon dioxide.
Signs of Catalytic Converter Failure
When your catalytic converter isn’t working correctly, it shows many symptoms. The issue is that many of them can be mistaken for other harmful components. If you see multiple signs, you should get your SUV diagnosed.
- Check Engine Light: The service indicator is catch-all that can demonstrate many problems. It is always best to get your 4-Runner examined when this light comes on.
- Increased Emissions: You’re unlikely to notice this short of a smog test, but it’s a significant sign. Remember that the converter breaks down specific emissions into carbon dioxide and water. An increase in unburnt hydrocarbons shows poor conversion.
- Engine Misfires: If you’re not venting enough spent gases through the catalytic converter, your powerplant might not have enough oxygen for proper operation. One way this might manifest itself is with the engine misfiring.
- Poor Fuel Efficiency: When the engine isn’t working well, it won’t use gas properly. A significant, sudden change in your fuel economy is always a cause for concern.
- Loss of Power: A bad catalytic converter can prevent your vehicle from accelerating. This will be especially noticeable when going uphill.
- Lack of Ignition: Your SUV may not start at all if your converter isn’t working. While it’s not unheard of for this to happen, it generally only occurs in especially severe cases.
Solutions for Catalytic Converter Failure
While you can generally continue to drive with a partially operational unit, your vehicle may stall or fail with a blocked converter. The best way to avoid this problem is to maintain your car correctly. For instance, you should take advantage of the best prices on synthetic oil to regularly change your oil and filter.
In the case of a partially blocked emissions system, you can sometimes repair the problem by clearing the blockage. For a fully blocked, damaged, or stolen catalytic converter, the component must be replaced. As with most automobile work, the part is significantly less expensive than the labor. If you feel confident in your skills as a mechanic, you can save money by doing the job yourself.
Always make sure you take the proper safety considerations before you do any work on your SUV. You’re dealing with a part that becomes extremely hot while in use, so allow it to cool down if you’ve been driving recently. When you’re ready to do the work, check out AutoZone today for the right tools and best Toyota 4-Runner catalytic converters.