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Cutting the cat

Question : MY 1995 Mercedes Benz E230 has been diagnosed with a blocked catalytic converter, resulting in poor engine power.  

As the catalytic converter is expensive and not readily available, I have been advised to discard it and replace with a normal silencer. Will this cause any harmful effects to my vehicle engine in the long run? 

Answer : THE catalytic converter is a device located along the exhaust system, usually as close to the exhaust manifold as possible. The function of the catalytic converter is to convert the any harmful gases such as carbon monoxide to the relatively harmless carbon dioxide and water vapour.  

The catalytic element consists of a honeycomb of platinum and other precious metals that helps break down harmful exhaust gases into harmless CO2 and water. 

Over a long period of time, carbon deposits can clog the fine honeycomb, blocking the flow of exhaust gases and causing a drop in engine power. 

Removing the catalytic converter does no damage to the engine since it is a passive device. It does, however, release more pollutants into the atmosphere. 

However it is important to ensure that the lambda sensor (usually located before the converter) remains connected since the Engine Control Unit (ECU) depends on the lambda sensor to govern its idling fuel requirements. Removing or disconnecting the lambda sensor results in poor idling.  

Catalytic converters on newer vehicles are also fitted with a thermocouple (temperature sensor). The presence of the thermocouple is to warn of catalytic converter overheating. 

As such, it is also important to ensure that the thermocouple remains connected after removal of the converter.

 
 

Cutting the cat

Converting the converter

Transmission choice

Faulty converter

   
 

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