Can a Bad Catalytic Converter Cause Car to Shut Off?

Can a Bad Catalytic Converter Cause Car to Shut Off

Can a bad catalytic converter cause car to shut off? A bad catalytic converter shouldn’t cause your car to shut off since it’s not a part of the ignition system, but, If a catalytic converter is extremely bad, it can cause your car to suddenly shut off and refuse to start.

A catalytic converter helps to change the harmful, toxic gasses produced by your car into less harmful gasses such as carbon dioxide and water vapor before they are released into the environment through your exhaust.

The catalytic converter contains various metals which help them in fulfilling the task ahead of them. These metals include rhodium, platinum, and palladium (these metals are precious metals and some of them are highly valuables)

Over the years cars and other automobiles have been known to emit toxic gasses such as hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, and nitric oxide which are hazardous to human health, hence the need for the development of the catalytic converter.

Can a Bad Catalytic Converter Cause Car to Shut Off?

A bad catalytic converter shouldn’t cause your car to shut off since the catalytic converter is not a part of the ignition system. However, in extreme cases of a bad catalytic converter, it is possible to cause the car to suddenly shut down and refuses to start.

A bad catalytic converter can make your car shut off or stall as it prevents your car from getting sufficient air intake.

Under extreme cases of bad catalytic converters, your car may not have any problem starting but might stall when you press the acceleration. This is a big safety hazard as the car can stall and its engine slows down or even shut off completely at any time.

You might even be on the road when the engine would stall or shut off. If it does that, it doesn’t mean you have an engine knock.

Catalytic converters breaking down are actually not far-fetched as they can be damaged by dirt on the ground due to their close proximity and they heat up pretty fast.

What are the Three Signs of a Bad Catalytic Converter?

These are the three signs of a bad catalytic converter:

1. Reduced Engine Performance

A bad catalytic converter can cause a reduced engine performance such as:

  • Pumping of Excessive Fuel: When the catalytic converter is bad, the fuel pump to the engine becomes excessive, making the engine unable to burn well.
  • Increase Exhaust Pressure: A bad catalytic converter also keeps exhaust gasses in your car, leading to an increase in exhaust pressure which in turn causes your car to stall
  • Check Engine Light: We cannot stop emphasizing the need to pay attention to your check engine light and take your car in for a check anytime it comes on. This does not only have to do with the catalytic converter alone but with every aspect of your car.
  • Difficulty in Acceleration: With a bad catalytic converter, the car will have difficulty accelerating as your car tends to stall or even come to an abrupt stop when you use the accelerator. This happens in extreme cases of a bad catalytic converter.

This weak acceleration can even lead to an increase in the amount of fuel your car burns, leading to you needing to buy an increased amount of fuel than usual

2. Problem with the Exhaust Smoke

There will be problems with the exhaust smoke such as:

  • Rotten Egg Smell: This is when the exhaust smoke smells like rotten eggs. It is an obvious indicator of a bad catalytic converter.
  • Sulfur is one of the components of gasoline and it is converted to hydrogen sulfide during the combustion process. This hydrogen sulfide is smelly in nature but a well-functioning catalytic converter converts it to odorless sulfur dioxide.
  • With a bad combustion converter, this process is unable to take place and the smelly hydrogen sulfide is retained in your exhaust
  • Clouds of Black Smoke: When you notice a cloud of dark smoke anytime you start your engine or when you use the accelerator, you don’t need an auto mechanic to tell you that you are having a catalytic converter issue. Visit your auto mechanic for repairs

3. Failure to Pass the Emission Test

Most governments in the world frown upon using a vehicle with a bad combustion converter hence the need for cars in those states to always undergo a smog test to ensure that no car is releasing dangerous gasses into the atmosphere.

However, one of the most common reasons why a car would fail an emission test is due to a bad combustion converter

What to Do When Car Shuts Off Because of a Bad Catalytic Converter

If your car shuts off because of a bad catalytic converter and refuses to start, tow the car to a repair shop and have it cleaned or replaced as the case may be.

Cleaning the catalytic converter involves removing the catalytic converter completely from your car and cleaning it up manually.

You can simply make a soap solution to clean your catalytic converter, and then make sure to submerge the converter in another soap solution overnight. This allows the solution to dissolve whatever is left behind in the debris.

Get a high-pressure hose with clean water to flush out all the dirt in the catalytic converter. You need to be patient here as removing the debris might take a while. Make sure you have it all and thereafter remount your catalytic converter back into your car.

You can also drive on the highway to help your catalytic converter.  This is because, one of the main reasons you end up with a clogged catalytic converter is because you only drive short distances which makes the catalytic converter unable to reach its required operating temperature, thereby causing it to fill up with carbon, preventing the escape of gasses.

So it might be best to drive on a highway for about 10 to 20 minute at a high RPM; this would allow your catalytic converter to heat up and burn up all the debris in it. Hereby returning optimal functionality

If this doesn’t work, it means your catalytic converter is heavily clogged and you might have to clean it manually.

If for any reason, driving on the highway or cleaning manually doesn’t work or is not an option, you might have to replace your catalytic converter

Final Thoughts

The catalytic converter besides being of environmental importance as it prevents toxic gasses from being released into the atmosphere also helps to ensure smooth functionality of the vehicle as a bad catalytic converter can cause the engine to stall or even shut off.

So when you notice a problem with your catalytic converter address it with an urgency not just to ensure environmental safety but also to ensure yours.