Request an Appointment Today!

Thank you!
Your submission has been received!

A Scheduling Coordinator will contact you within 24-hours to book your appointment.

Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

How Catalytic Converters Work

Resources

What is a catalytic converter, and how does it work? Before we answer these questions and more, first we would like to address the origin of why they exist in the first place.

How Catalytic Converters Work
Types Of Catalytic Converters

Why Do We Need Catalytic Converters?

Catalytic converters have become commonplace in today’s world of motor vehicle usage. It has not always been this way. In the past, rising pollution levels due to vehicle exhaust fumes have become the cause of the haze of smog that fills the air over many major cities. With millions of cars on the roads across America, it is no wonder something had to be done.   

To solve this problem, cities, states, and the federal government created clean-air laws that restrict the amount of pollution that cars can produce. Over the years, automakers have made adjustments to fuel systems and car engines to keep up with these laws. 

The largest leap in technology to date to combat car emission pollution has been the introduction of the catalytic converter.

Where Did The Technology Come From?

It started in 1950 by a man named Eugene Houdry, a French mechanical engineer, who invented the first catalytic converter to reduce the amount of pollutants produced by motor vehicles. It was not until 1975 that the usage of these devices started to become widely used amongst the masses. In 1981, the installation of catalytic converters became mandatory in all vehicles manufactured. Today, it’s just another normal part of your car’s exhaust system.

What Pollutants are Catalytic Converters designed to reduce?

When driving a gasoline-powered vehicle, many substances are ejected into the world. Some are more harmful than others. 

On the lighter side, some are reasonably safe, such as nitrogen (N2) which is naturally in the air we breathe along with water (H2O) which you can see sometimes dripping from the exhaust pipe of your car. 

On the more harmful side, carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrogen oxide (NOx), and sulfur oxides (SOx) are major causes of air pollution and respiratory problems for many of our population. These emissions have been known to cause health problems like cardiovascular disease and cancer. Health problems like these can be caused by unburnt hydrocarbons (carbon particles), and volatile organic compounds (VOCs)

Vehicle engines also release carbon monoxide (CO) which is a poisonous gas that can replace oxygen in your bloodstream. If exposed to enough of this, it can cause permanent major respiratory problems and even death. Not to mention the damage it does to the upper layers of our atmosphere like the ozone layer.

How Do Catalytic Converters Reduce Pollutants?

As we all know, inside your engine 3 things need to happen in order to propel your car forward. You need a mixture of fuel, air, and a spark to create a small explosion. This moves one piston at a time, through one combustion at a time to keep your engine spinning and your car moving. That combustion releases some harmful chemicals which are moved out of your car’s engine through your exhaust system. 

Attached to your car’s exhaust pipe is your catalytic converter. A ceramic honeycomb is encased in a metal casing. The honeycomb is coated with noble metals. Noble metals are metals that are resistant to oxidation, corrosion, and acids. This means that they are able to stand up to moisture and all the chemicals released by your car’s engine.

Commonly the honeycomb is coated with platinum (Pt), palladium (Pd), and rhodium (Rh). These act as catalysts, which are compounds that trigger a chemical reaction without being affected or altered themselves resulting in a long lifespan of usage. These reactions convert the harmful chemicals into less harmful emissions, hence the name “Catalytic converter”.


(again, the file name should include target keywords “catalytic converter noble metals” same with Alt text)


The reason for using a honeycomb design is to maximize surface area thus increasing the effectiveness of the system where the reactions take place.

As the engine runs, air is moved out of your car’s engine through the exhaust system pipes into the catalytic converter’s intake. From there, the gases from the engine fumes blow over the catalyst, chemical reactions take place on its surface, breaking apart the pollutant gases and converting them into other gases that are safe enough to blow harmlessly out of the tailpipe.

What Processes Take Place Inside Of The Catalytic Converter?

Catalytic converters use 2 reactions to reduce undesirable emissions. These are called reduction and oxidation.

  1. Reduction is the process of removing oxygen.

A reduction catalyst made of platinum and rhodium is used to reduce nitrogen oxides (NOx) by removing nitrogen atoms from nitrogen oxide molecules (NO & NO2).

This unbinds the oxygen from the oxygen gas (O2) and from there nitrogen atoms attached to the catalyst react with each other. This creates nitrogen gas (N2) which can be harmlessly released out of your exhaust system.


  1. Oxidation is the process of adding oxygen.

A reduction catalyst made from platinum or palladium reduces hydrocarbons (HC) and carbon monoxide (CO) by combining the carbon monoxide with oxygen to form carbon dioxide (CO2). Secondly, the unburnt hydrocarbons and oxygen combine to form carbon dioxide and water.Today’s catalytic converters use oxygen sensors to control how much extra oxygen gets pumped into the exhaust stream. The computer reads the data from the sensor and makes sure to feed the correct amount of oxygen into the system to maintain optimum efficiency for these oxidation and reduction reactions to take place, thus making for an extremely efficient pollution control system.


In short, catalytic converters take the dirty air from your engine, break the molecules into atoms, then recombine those atoms into safer substances such as carbon dioxide and are released back into the air. 

This is why we need a catalytic converter in all motor vehicles, and should make sure they are working in perfect order.

When you need to have yours checked, or replaced, always feel free to contact us and make an appointment.

Book Now

Jennifer E.

Meineke quoted $1,400 for the catalytic converters alone! These guys gave us an $800 quote for everything and ended up calling us and telling us that we could wait on the pipe for now and that our bill would be closer to $500! I will never go anyplace else for muffler work ever again.

Yelp!

Sarah B.

I’ve been going here for years - love these guys. Honest, reasonable and thorough. I’ve gone in thinking I needed an expensive job, and they sent me away saying I didn’t actually need anything. Plus they are fun to talk with.

Google

Atahar M.

Conventional auto repairers asked $900 to replace the whole system but they fixed it for $125. Also every employee in this place was very gentle and helpful. Totally recommend it.

Google

Andy S.

I’ve been in the automotive industry for 20 years....This is a professional shop that i have always and will always trust!

Google

Kaila F.

Dealer said would be a $1,700 fix. Here was $200!! Quick and good. Highly recommend.

Google

Noreen R.

Love these guys! They took our car in as soon as we walked in the door. What our dealership quoted $1,300 to fix, they did for $125 (with a 2 year warranty) in less than an hour.

Google

Jerome B.

They're affordable and reliable and do quality work
no hidden tricks or gimmicks. if i could give more STARS i would
i HIGHLY recommend coming here than anywhere else.

Google

Carl G.

High quality work does by a team that is professional and polite. HALF the cost of a Honda dealership. More importantly they talked me through the entire problem, proposed repairs, options and cost/price points. Never had a better experience!!! HIGHLY RECOMMEND.

Facebook

Jeremy A.

I asked on Facebook who everyone would recommend and was told this place over 10 different times! They fixed my car in 90 minutes. I would gladly recommend this place over and over again! Best experience ever! Highly impressed!!!

Google

Nicole M.

Got my car in right away and saved me HUNDREDS of dollars!! Talk about an amazing, honest & professional mechanic! Thank you thank you THANK YOU for not only saving my car but also my bank account! My sister & father are also customers, we all HIGHLY recommend.

Facebook

Moldy B.

All my family and friends know and trust this company. I went in there expecting to spend about $600-700 and a few hours to a day without my truck. They took me right away and I was out of the place in 30 min from the moment I pulled in and only spent a little over $100. I was amazed at the speed and price.

Google

Jennifer E.

Meineke quoted $1,400 for the catalytic converters alone! These guys gave us an $800 quote for everything and ended up calling us and telling us that we could wait on the pipe for now and that our bill would be closer to $500! I will never go anyplace else for muffler work ever again.

Yelp!

Sarah B.

I’ve been going here for years - love these guys. Honest, reasonable and thorough. I’ve gone in thinking I needed an expensive job, and they sent me away saying I didn’t actually need anything. Plus they are fun to talk with.

Google

Atahar M.

Conventional auto repairers asked $900 to replace the whole system but they fixed it for $125. Also every employee in this place was very gentle and helpful. Totally recommend it.

Google

Andy S.

I’ve been in the automotive industry for 20 years....This is a professional shop that i have always and will always trust!

Google

Kaila F.

Dealer said would be a $1,700 fix. Here was $200!! Quick and good. Highly recommend.

Google

Noreen R.

Love these guys! They took our car in as soon as we walked in the door. What our dealership quoted $1,300 to fix, they did for $125 (with a 2 year warranty) in less than an hour.

Google

Jerome B.

They're affordable and reliable and do quality work
no hidden tricks or gimmicks. if i could give more STARS i would
i HIGHLY recommend coming here than anywhere else.

Google

Carl G.

High quality work does by a team that is professional and polite. HALF the cost of a Honda dealership. More importantly they talked me through the entire problem, proposed repairs, options and cost/price points. Never had a better experience!!! HIGHLY RECOMMEND.

Facebook

Jeremy A.

I asked on Facebook who everyone would recommend and was told this place over 10 different times! They fixed my car in 90 minutes. I would gladly recommend this place over and over again! Best experience ever! Highly impressed!!!

Google

Nicole M.

Got my car in right away and saved me HUNDREDS of dollars!! Talk about an amazing, honest & professional mechanic! Thank you thank you THANK YOU for not only saving my car but also my bank account! My sister & father are also customers, we all HIGHLY recommend.

Facebook

Moldy B.

All my family and friends know and trust this company. I went in there expecting to spend about $600-700 and a few hours to a day without my truck. They took me right away and I was out of the place in 30 min from the moment I pulled in and only spent a little over $100. I was amazed at the speed and price.

Google

TCCS Logo Black

Related Resources

The Right Catalytic Converter For Your Vehicle

When it comes to choosing the right catalytic converter for your vehicle, there are many things to consider. Price, performance, and what your state’s regulations are when it comes to passing emissions tests. Below is our 4 point guide on what steps we take to make sure you get the right catalytic converter to meet your needs.

What's The Difference Between A Catalytic Converter And A Muffler?

Did you know that the air in your home circulates through the ducts multiple times a day?

Cost Of Catalytic Converters

Catalytic converters are an essential part of every vehicle’s exhaust system. They convert harmful exhaust gases into less harmful emissions before they leave your vehicle’s tailpipe. Through the years they have progressed from non-existence to a great option to help protect the environment, to a mandatory part of every motor vehicle’s exhaust system.

How To Protect Your Catalytic Converter

Catalytic converters have been required in all gasoline-powered cars and trucks in the U.S. since 1975. They are part of a car’s exhaust system and help reduce toxic emissions and pollutants. Catalytic converters also contain precious metals like palladium, platinum, and rhodium which are currently being sold for high prices on the black market.

Request an Appointment today!

Book an appointment with The Catalytic Converter Shop in Massachusetts today to have your catalytic converter inspected, repaired, or replaced by our experienced team of professionals. We will make the process fast and easy. Click below to send us your details, or call us today at (978) 536-9311.

Jennifer E.

Meineke quoted $1,400 for the catalytic converters alone! These guys gave us an $800 quote for everything and ended up calling us and telling us that we could wait on the pipe for now and that our bill would be closer to $500! I will never go anyplace else for muffler work ever again.

Yelp!

Sarah B.

I’ve been going here for years - love these guys. Honest, reasonable and thorough. I’ve gone in thinking I needed an expensive job, and they sent me away saying I didn’t actually need anything. Plus they are fun to talk with.

Google

Atahar M.

Conventional auto repairers asked $900 to replace the whole system but they fixed it for $125. Also every employee in this place was very gentle and helpful. Totally recommend it.

Google

Andy S.

I’ve been in the automotive industry for 20 years....This is a professional shop that i have always and will always trust!

Google

Kaila F.

Dealer said would be a $1,700 fix. Here was $200!! Quick and good. Highly recommend.

Google

Noreen R.

Love these guys! They took our car in as soon as we walked in the door. What our dealership quoted $1,300 to fix, they did for $125 (with a 2 year warranty) in less than an hour.

Google

Jerome B.

They're affordable and reliable and do quality work
no hidden tricks or gimmicks. if i could give more STARS i would
i HIGHLY recommend coming here than anywhere else.

Google

Carl G.

High quality work does by a team that is professional and polite. HALF the cost of a Honda dealership. More importantly they talked me through the entire problem, proposed repairs, options and cost/price points. Never had a better experience!!! HIGHLY RECOMMEND.

Facebook

Jeremy A.

I asked on Facebook who everyone would recommend and was told this place over 10 different times! They fixed my car in 90 minutes. I would gladly recommend this place over and over again! Best experience ever! Highly impressed!!!

Google

Nicole M.

Got my car in right away and saved me HUNDREDS of dollars!! Talk about an amazing, honest & professional mechanic! Thank you thank you THANK YOU for not only saving my car but also my bank account! My sister & father are also customers, we all HIGHLY recommend.

Facebook

Moldy B.

All my family and friends know and trust this company. I went in there expecting to spend about $600-700 and a few hours to a day without my truck. They took me right away and I was out of the place in 30 min from the moment I pulled in and only spent a little over $100. I was amazed at the speed and price.

Google

Jennifer E.

Meineke quoted $1,400 for the catalytic converters alone! These guys gave us an $800 quote for everything and ended up calling us and telling us that we could wait on the pipe for now and that our bill would be closer to $500! I will never go anyplace else for muffler work ever again.

Yelp!

Sarah B.

I’ve been going here for years - love these guys. Honest, reasonable and thorough. I’ve gone in thinking I needed an expensive job, and they sent me away saying I didn’t actually need anything. Plus they are fun to talk with.

Google

Atahar M.

Conventional auto repairers asked $900 to replace the whole system but they fixed it for $125. Also every employee in this place was very gentle and helpful. Totally recommend it.

Google

Andy S.

I’ve been in the automotive industry for 20 years....This is a professional shop that i have always and will always trust!

Google

Kaila F.

Dealer said would be a $1,700 fix. Here was $200!! Quick and good. Highly recommend.

Google

Noreen R.

Love these guys! They took our car in as soon as we walked in the door. What our dealership quoted $1,300 to fix, they did for $125 (with a 2 year warranty) in less than an hour.

Google

Jerome B.

They're affordable and reliable and do quality work
no hidden tricks or gimmicks. if i could give more STARS i would
i HIGHLY recommend coming here than anywhere else.

Google

Carl G.

High quality work does by a team that is professional and polite. HALF the cost of a Honda dealership. More importantly they talked me through the entire problem, proposed repairs, options and cost/price points. Never had a better experience!!! HIGHLY RECOMMEND.

Facebook

Jeremy A.

I asked on Facebook who everyone would recommend and was told this place over 10 different times! They fixed my car in 90 minutes. I would gladly recommend this place over and over again! Best experience ever! Highly impressed!!!

Google

Nicole M.

Got my car in right away and saved me HUNDREDS of dollars!! Talk about an amazing, honest & professional mechanic! Thank you thank you THANK YOU for not only saving my car but also my bank account! My sister & father are also customers, we all HIGHLY recommend.

Facebook

Moldy B.

All my family and friends know and trust this company. I went in there expecting to spend about $600-700 and a few hours to a day without my truck. They took me right away and I was out of the place in 30 min from the moment I pulled in and only spent a little over $100. I was amazed at the speed and price.

Google