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Converting the converter

Question : My 1991 Mercedes Benz 260E has just been diagnosed with a blocked catalytic converter. As a result, fuel consumption is high and power output is way down.

I have been told that there is no harm in replacing the converter with a normal silencer box. However, I have doubts about this. I would appreciate your advice.

Answer : A CATALYTIC converter is a passive device that helps to convert harmful exhaust gases such as nitrous oxides and carbon monoxide into nitrogen and carbon dioxide respectively. It also converts carcinogenic hydrocarbons into carbon dioxide and water.

The catalytic converter consists of a fine honeycomb of precious metals such as platinum, palladium and rhodium kept at an elevated temperature over which the exhaust gases pass. This fine honeycomb can be easily damaged or clogged over a period of time.

A clogged or damaged converter results in the symptoms that you have described above -- high fuel consumption and low power output. Badly clogged converters can result in engine backfire that may cause engine damage.

The converter is not repairable and must be replaced with a brand new unit. It won't be cheap. Removing the converter does not result in harm to the engine, but one may expect a rise in exhaust pollutants.

The converter may be replaced with a high quality silencer box, and this would probably result in a significant increase in power and a slight reduction in fuel consumption even when compared to fitting a new converter in the first place.

Currently, Malaysia has no laws that are actively enforced with regards to permissible levels of exhaust pollutants so it would be okay, legally, to do away with your current catalytic converter. Whether it is right, morally, is for you to decide.


Cutting the cat

Converting the converter

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Faulty converter


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