High Flow Catalytic Converters

The catalytic converter in your vehicle is responsible for cleaning up the nasty pollutants from your beloved engine. It was invented back in the 1950’s thanks to the smog in Los Angeles; they weren’t seriously mass produced until 1973 where they start gaining popularity. They operate in an extremely harsh environment and therefore, don’t last forever. When you fail an emissions test (God love the DOT) your catalytic converter could well be the problem. If you go to a dealer, you’re likely to end up promising your firstborn male child in addition to paying sales tax. So what do you do?

Why Not Kick it Up a Notch?
If you fail your emissions test and end up having to replace your catalytic converter, hey, why not take it up a step and increase your horsepower while still being legal for emissions? A high flow catalytic converter will still make the Green Movement happy, but at the same time, you get to be happy because you get more horsies under the hood (approximately 5 hp is a common increase). Inside these high flow catalytic converters is a little element, undoubtedly patented, that due to its low restriction, cleanses combustion without reducing the flow of fuel. I took a peek at what one of these would cost if you were blessed enough to own a 2011 Ford mustang. Ready? For a mere $790, you can be the proud owner of a high flow catalytic converter. Now if you’re tooling around town in your old 2009 Nissan frontier, you’re only going to drop about $76.00. Brands like Catco, Flowmaster, MagnaFlow, Random Technology and Dynomax are all advertised on the Internet.

Sounds Great. What Have I Got to Lose?
Plenty; Catalyst poisoning refers to one of the most serious problems your converter can have. Nasty contaminants in exhaust create a coating that makes it difficult for the converter to filter. Lead is the major contaminant, ergo; the use of unleaded gas. Want to make a mechanic’s hair stand on end? Walk up to him, nice and close now, and whisper this in his ear; “catalytic melt down”. Did he go pale; did his eyes roll back in his head? This is caused by abnormally high levels of unburned hydrocarbons reaching the converter. This elevates the temperature resulting in catalytic deactivation (exhaust restriction). Fortunately vehicles equipped with diagnostic systems will alert the driver should this happen. This next problem surprised me, but considering the times we live in, I really shouldn’t have been that taken aback. People are stealing high flow catalytic converters. That’s right; stealing them. Of course, after seeing the price on that mustang converter… hmm. Provided that you still have your converter, but failed your emissions, the first step in avoiding lots of money disappearing into “thin” air is to attempt an adjustment. Your mechanic, should you have one, can do this. Repairing and replacing high flow catalytic converters are both expensive so try picking up a used or refurbished one.

Since 1981, catalytic converters have morphed from dual function into 3-way catalytic converters. The reason? Get your chemistry books out. Catalytic converters used to oxidize carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons making them relatively harmless. But the powers that are (emissions controls) decided mean that something needed to be done with nitrous oxide as well. So now the 3-way catalytic converters also change nitrous oxide into nitrogen and oxygen. Using a high flow catalytic converter gives us the best of both worlds. They clean the air while giving us back the horsepower we initially lost by slapping catalytic converters on to our mechanical beasts in the first place.

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