Last Updated on November 2, 2023
A catalytic converter plays an essential role in a car’s emission system. Its major purpose is to reduce the amount of pollutants produced from the exhaust pipes. But how many catalytic converters does a car have?
Most cars have just one catalytic converter that converts toxic gases into less-toxic exhaust. If the car has a dual exhaust system, it may have two catalytic converters. Additionally, many modern cars also have a pre-catalytic convertor that aids in cleaning the gas emissions on cold start up.
The catalytic converter is a fascinating and highly useful part making cars less hazardous to the environment. However, how they work is often a mystery.
Without getting too scientific, a catalytic converter uses chemistry and redox reactions to reduce the pollutants a car engine makes.
In fact, today’s modern catalytic convertors are able to convert 98% of all harmful exhaust fumes into less harmful gases.
Additionally, many new cars also have a pre-catalytic convertor that aids in cleaning the gas emissions on cold start up.
Let’s breakdown everything you need to know about catalytic converters. First, we will cover what a catalytic converter is. Then we’ll get into why they’re important. And lastly, we will cover how many catalytic converters most cars have.
What Does a Catalytic Converter Do?
A catalytic converter reduces pollutants in two main ways. First, the catalyst reduces nitrogen oxide, and subsequently, the converter reduces hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide emissions.
In short, it turns CO, NOx, and HC into less harmful CO2, H20, and N2).
Of course, these harmful pollutants are still emitted from the car to some degree. But the converter significantly reduces the amount of pollutants it would be expelling otherwise, converting up to 90% of these harmful compounds.
Why Do Most Cars Have One Catalytic Converter?
Most cars have a single catalytic converter for a simple reason: it’s all the car needs to render toxic gasses inert.
It’s a shining example of efficient engineering – without the need for multiple parts and connections, one small device can contribute vastly to reducing exhaust emissions and protecting our earth.
Catalytic converters make a world of difference reducing toxic emissions, which is why almost every vehicle is required to have one.
In fact, since 1975, catalytic converters have become standard equipment for all cars to reduce emissions as efforts around the world have ramped up to prevent global warming.
Why Do Some Cars Have More Than One Converter?
The reason some cars may have two or more converters is a matter of efficiency.
All of the fumes and harmful compounds created as a byproduct of internal combustion must be expelled through the exhaust system. To do so, they must first pass through the catalytic converter.
As such, two converters might be found in a system with a dual exhaust system.
Also very common on new cars is a pre-catalytic converter. Pre-catalytic converters – commonly referred to as a “pre-cats” helps the main catalytic converter convert harmful exhaust gases on cold start up.
Without a pre-cat, exhaust emissions are allowed to pass directly through the catalytic converter into the air when the engine hasn’t fully warmed up.
Fact is, catalytic converters work best at converting harmful exhaust fumes within normal operating temperatures.
More catalytic converters, of course, means more effective management of toxic fumes, reducing the car’s overall emissions.
Where Are Catalytic Convertors Normally Found on a Car?
Catalytic converters are usually mounted underneath the vehicle, close to the engine in order to take advantage of this heat energy and produce cleaner emissions.
How Long do Catalytic Converters Last?
Catalytic convertors are an important part of your vehicle’s emissions system that can last for up to a decade or more.
However, impairments such as clogging, overheating and contamination with engine oil could reduce its lifespan significantly.
Final Thoughts: How Many Catalytic Converters Does a Car Have
A catalytic converter is an essential part of a car’s function, particularly to the effect of reducing toxic emissions from cars.
Most cars have one that feeds into the vehicle’s exhaust system. However, some vehicles with more advanced exhaust systems may utilize two or more catalytic converters for better efficiency.
Catalytic converters have come a long way since the 70’s, and cars are better for the environment than ever before.