We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is a Catalytic Converter?

By J.Gunsch
Updated May 23, 2024
Our promise to you
WikiMotors is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WikiMotors, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

A catalytic converter is a device installed in automobiles that is designed to reduce harmful emissions released from the vehicle’s exhaust. In the United States, all vehicles produced after 1975 are required to have one as part of an attempt to reduce air pollution.

The emissions from automobiles consist of noxious gases such as carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxide. When these gases are not treated, they are emitted from automobiles and become the largest source of ground level ozone. Ground level ozone is responsible for smog, respiratory problems, and damage to plant life. A catalytic converter uses metallic catalysts, usually platinum, rhodium or palladium, that cause a chemical reaction with the noxious gases, converting them into less harmful ones.

The catalytic converter was developed in the 1960s, and by the 1970s, most vehicles were equipped with one. In 1975, the United States’ Clean Air Act required a 75% emissions reduction on all new model vehicles, which was to be achieved with the use of the device. It is constantly being improved upon and is now more efficient than ever. In the US, these improvements are in accordance with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) more stringent amendments to the Clean Air Act.

Although the catalytic converter has been very successful in reducing the dangerous pollutants released by automobiles, particularly ground level ozone, it has fallen under criticism. It may help to solve one serious environmental problem, but its use is a trade-off at the expense of increasing global warming. The converter creates and releases gases into the atmosphere that are responsible for global warming. Carbon dioxide, which is released along with the noxious gases from the vehicle’s exhaust system, is increased by the system. Carbon monoxide, which is transformed into carbon dioxide, is responsible for absorbing the sun's infrared waves and causing the planet to warm up.

WikiMotors is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By anon311198 — On Dec 30, 2012

When I push the gas pedal, the truck bogs down and dies. How do I know it's the converter?

By anon298004 — On Oct 18, 2012

My car failed the emissions test. Can it be because of the catalytic converter?

By anon133985 — On Dec 13, 2010

My class is studying these objects, and what is a constant is oxygen from the engine through the c.c.and to the muffler.

By chubmanjoe — On Nov 05, 2007

As I recall, catalytic converters were phased in later for light duty trucks - do you know what year they were eventually required for light duty trucks?

WikiMotors, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WikiMotors, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.