How Does a Catalytic Converter Work & How to Protect It

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Driving around the world can be an amazing experience. Winding roads through mountain ranges, free and open desert highways, and even taking on the traffic of a big city can all be enchanting. But when it comes to your car, it’s good to know more about things like tire pressure and catalytic converters. 

So how does a catalytic converter even work?

Not only should you know how the many different parts of your car work, but you should also know how to take care of them properly. 

Whether you have installed the best high-flow catalytic converter for all your road trips, or you’re simply renting a new car, you need to be aware of what you’re dealing with. Take a look at what a catalytic converter does and how to protect it. 

The Job of the Catalytic Converter


The catalytic converter in your car has a simple, primary function. This integral component takes harmful toxins from your engine and filters out various emissions. The converter is designed to reduce pollutants by using palladium, rhodium, and other precious metals to turn these harmful substances into water vapor and carbon dioxide. 

These byproducts of the combustion engine can include the following: 

  • Hydrocarbons
  • Nitrogen Oxides
  • Carbon Monoxides
  • Sulfur Dioxides
  • Other Volatile Organic Compounds

Without a catalytic converter in your car, there is a greater chance of increased greenhouse gases and even greater injury to our beautiful planet. 

However, be careful. Because it uses rare, precious metals, catalytic converter theft is on the rise. Before you set out on your adventures, you should definitely know the answer to the question, “Is catalytic converter theft covered by insurance?” As always, your safety is paramount while traveling! 

How Does a Catalytic Converter Work?

How exactly a catalytic converter works is actually not that complicated! The converter uses reduction and oxidation reactions to turn harmful byproducts of your engine into gasses and vapors that can be released into our atmosphere with minimal damage. 

Platinum and palladium make up something called an oxidation catalyst. Taking hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide, mixing it with oxygen, and creating carbon dioxide and water. 

Newer catalytic converters use something called a “Lambda Sensor” that controls how much oxygen gets put into the exhaust. In turn, the reduction and oxidation work a lot better!

Protection for Your Catalytic Converter

Now that you are aware of how important your catalytic converter is, it’s time to look into how to successfully take care of it. After all, we want the planet to last for future generations to travel, learn, and see all that our stunning planet has to offer! Protecting this vital part of your vehicle is key to keeping our emissions low. 

First, you’ll need to find the best catalytic converter cleaner on the market for your car. These cleaners will improve the way your engine burns fuel and help the converter create safer emissions.

Secondly, be sure to schedule the proper car maintenance for your personal vehicle. This means oil changes, changing the air filters, and yearly inspections of your car’s emissions. All of this can greatly extend the life of your catalytic converter and keep it running smoothly.

Finally, if you are traveling and it isn’t your car, there are still steps you can take to ensure the converter is working well. Let’s say you are taking a trip to New Zealand and want to rent a car. You can ask when the vehicle was last serviced and what the emission rating is before you even drive it! That way you can change the vehicle if need be to do the best thing for our planet. 

Catalytic Converter Knowledge for Smarter Travels!

Sometimes, traveling means having to leave a larger carbon footprint than you would like. Knowing how your car reduces emissions, and how to help protect your catalytic converter to make it last longer, are both very important.

Now you can take off on the road trip of your dreams, as well as rent a car abroad with the knowledge of how your car handles harmful pollutants. Take care of your converter on your travels, and you can help take care of the planet!

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John Miller

John Miller is a cars enthusiast who loves writing anything related to automobiles. He is a passionate blogger writing for and other auto blogs