Will catalytic converter reduce exhaust smell?

The catalytic converter is an essential part of your car. It is among other components making up the exhaustion system. However, its function in the exhaust system is an exception, not just allowing exhaust gas and smoke to come out. It works on reducing pollution and emissions by converting those harmful emissions by the car into less harmful ones.

Fumes and gasses generated from the car’s combustion chamber and a mixture of other substances are harmful and, once exposed to the environment untreated, will be a threat. Indeed, they smell bad, and sometimes you may think it’s rotten eggs in the exhaustion chamber.

However, with a catalytic converter in the exhaustion system, the odor exhaust smell is reduced to a somehow friendly to the environment. But how does a catalytic converter reduce exhaust smell? This is defined by how it works.

What Do Catalytic Converters Do to reduce Exhaust Smell?

The catalytic converter consists of a catalytic chamber useful to convert the engine’s gasses and other harmful compounds into less harmful ones–mostly, some emissions will be turned into steam.

This system’s working happens by splitting up the toxic emission compounds from the gasses before the car releases them into the environment.

It uses the two pipes and the catalytic chamber when the engine is running to work on those produced emissions direct from the combustion chamber.

The Catalytic converter lies at some position, having an inlet from the exhaust pipe(carrying the harmful emissions from the engine) and an outlet exhaust pipe(tailpipe) that takes out the less harmful gasses after they have been treated.

After these harmful gasses are blown through the catalytic converter, some chemical reaction occurs that helps split out harmful molecules.

Inside a Catalytic Converter, What Helps Reduce Exhaust Smell?

First of all, you need to know what a catalytic converter is. The inner part of this system is made of different metal materials; it can be palladium, rhodium, or platinum.

When an engine, particularly the combustion chamber, burns up fuel (mixture of air and fuel), the products (harmful gasses) are taken out through a structure-like ceramic honeycomb found in the catalytic chamber. Here, these gasses meet lined metals designed to reduce emissions.

The emitted compounds from the combustion chamber are composed of unburned hydrocarbons(HC), nitrogen oxides(NOx), and carbon monoxide(CO).

Inside the catalytic chamber, these gasses pass through reduction catalysts. In this section, nitrogen oxide(NOx) is reduced by removing oxygen. In other words, NOx is split up into oxygen and nitrogen gasses in the reduction catalysts, and they exist as harmless.

Still, in the catalytic chamber, these emissions go through oxidation catalysts where Carbon Monoxide(CO) is oxidized(by adding oxygen) into Carbon dioxide(CO2). Nitrogen oxides(NOx) are harmful, and they have a harsh odor, but when split into nitrogen and oxygen, the smell is lost.

After these emissions from the computation chamber go through the catalytic converter, the products coming out through the tailpipe are water(H2O), carbon dioxide(CO2), and nitrogen gas(N2).

These compounds are not so harmful to the environment, so the catalytic converter is an important part your car should not run without.

What do catalytic converters reduce in car exhaust?

The fuel and air mix is ignited by the spark plugs inside the engine’s combustion chamber. The mixture is then combusted and the mechanical energy needed is produced; however, the product of the combustion is in the form of harmful mixed gasses(emissions).

These harmful gasses are nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxides, and unburned hydrocarbons. These are hazardous compounds when exposed to an open environment.

However, the use of catalytic converters in the CSR reduces them from being harmful. But what do catalytic converters reduce from these harmful emissions?

After emissions come from the combustion chamber, they are directed by an exhaust pipe into the catalytic converter. Inside the catalytic chamber, two things happen, reduction and oxidation.

Nitrogen oxides are split up or reduced into nitrogen gas and oxygen gas. As well, carbon monoxides are oxidized through the addition of oxygen to carbon dioxide.

Therefore, the products that come out through the tailpipe are nitrogen, carbon dioxide, and water which are less harmful to the environment.

Which exhaust gases does a catalytic converter clean up?

Nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxides are gases cleaned up by catalytic converters. The products fed into ceramic honeycomb(a catalytic chamber) are compounds of carbon monoxides, unburned hydrocarbons, and nitrogen oxides.

Inside the catalytic chamber, two chemical reaction processes occur, reduction and oxidation. There are those compounds that are reduced, and others are oxidized. For instance, nitrogen oxides are reduced into nitrogen gas.

The process occurs through a splitting process where oxygen gas is also formed. Oxygen is added to carbon monoxide through the oxidation process to form carbon dioxide.

Nitrogen and carbon dioxides are clean gasses and less harmful to the surrounding.

What are the most common causes of a smelly exhaust?

Exhaust fumes in a car can be disturbing due to their unpleasantness. Moreover, these gases can pose a detrimental risk to the environment because of the harmful chemicals contained in them.

There are several reasons why your exhaust can be smelly. First, the catalytic converter can be faulty or damaged; there is a rich fuel-air ratio or an exhaust leak in the car.

How do you get rid of smelly exhaust?

Every car comes with an exhaust system that helps convert harmful chemicals and fumes that vehicles produce and releases them safely into the atmosphere.

However, the car works; the exhaust wears over time. Despite this, there are things you do to get rid of a smelly exhaust. This includes regularly changing the oil filter and oil, changing the fuel filter, changing the PCV filter regularly, driving smartly, and regularly changing the air filter.

To completely get rid of a smelly exhaust system, get a quality exhaust system repair from the nearby mechanic.


The catalytic converter is an essential system in your car’s exhaust system that helps reduce the emission of harmful pollutants from the computation chamber.

A catalytic converter also reduces exhaust smell by working on the nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxides that have a harsh odor.

Therefore, it’s good to ensure your car’s catalytic converter is in the right condition. Save the environment from harmful gasses produced by your car’s combustion chamber.

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