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Ford Explorer Catalytic Converters

The catalytic converter is a major component of the exhaust system in a Ford Explorer, and maintaining its functionality is critical to the overall health and efficiency of your Explorer. When converters malfunction, any number of issues can start to appear, from fuel economy problems to not being unable to start the engine. Knowing the warning signs and understanding the process behind this central part can help you prevent further issues on your Ford Explorer.

What does a catalytic converter do?

Car engines create all kinds of nasty chemicals during the internal combustion process, which can pollute the environment and cause serious health hazards. Catalytic converters take a lot of these chemicals, and through a series of chemical reactions inside of the converter, reduce the danger of various compounds before they pass through the exhaust system. Some examples of the compounds that catalytic converters affect include:

  • Dangerous nitrogen oxides are reduced to a safer mixture of both nitrogen and oxygen gas.
  • Gasoline is made up of hundreds of different hydrocarbons, some of which aren't fully burned before they get through the engine. These unburned hydrocarbons are oxidized in the converter, producing carbon dioxide gas and water vapor.
  • When gasoline is burned in an internal combustion engine, carbon monoxide is one of the main byproducts. Carbon monoxide is dangerous to humans, so when it goes through the catalytic converter, it is oxidized to less dangerous carbon dioxide.
What are the signs that a catalytic converter needs replacing?

There are a number of different warning signs that can signify that your Ford has an improperly functioning catalytic converter in need of repair or replacement. Some of these signs can be caused by other factors, but if two or more continue cropping up, a malfunctioning catalytic converter may be your problem.

  • A sudden, drastic drop in the fuel performance of your vehicle.
  • Engine stalling or refusing to start. Since the catalytic converter is a part of the exhaust system, if it becomes clogged to the point that gases can't pass through it, then the engine will be unable to pull in air from the front. This would make it impossible for the engine to start.
  • Lack or decrease in acceleration when the gas pedal is pressed.
  • Check engine light comes on.
  • Your vehicle fails an emissions test unexpectedly.
What should you know before replacing a catalytic converter?

Many catalytic converters will last longer than the vehicle itself, with some being able to go well over 200,000 miles before problems start to show up. However, they are at risk of damage if a damaged ignition system or cylinder causes oil or other fluid to get into the converter, causing it to wear out prematurely. If you have found that the converter is the problem, then it is important to make sure that you replace it with the proper model that meets your state's emission standards.