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A semi catalytic converter is one of the few components of a car that is legally required to be present in the vehicle. This shows how important it is to any vehicle, yet there are many car owners who still don’t understand what these features are and their function. Also, there are questions about how essential semi catalytic converters are to fuel efficiency.
In this guide, we’ll go into an in-depth discussion about these devices.
JUMP TO TOPIC
- 1 What Is a Semi Catalytic Converter?
- 2 Can You Drive a Vehicle That Is Missing Its Semi Catalytic Converter?
- 3 How Does the Semi Catalytic Converter Affect the Coolant in a Ford F150?
- 4 How Can You Protect Your Semi Catalytic Converter Against Theft?
What Is a Semi Catalytic Converter?
A semi catalytic converter is essentially a catalytic converter found in semi trucks. Catalytic converters are devices that convert the harmful emissions of a vehicle into innocuous carbon dioxide and water vapor. These mechanical devices are legally required in vehicles to reduce environmental pollution.
However, it is impossible for any engine to be 100 percent efficient at burning fuel, and there are always fossil fuels that are not burned in the engine. These fossil fuels are typically expelled in the form of exhaust gasses.
However, these fossil fuels contain toxic chemicals and greenhouse gasses that are unsafe for both humans and the environment. This has necessitated regulatory authorities to implement laws that ensure vehicles reduce the amount of toxic fumes expelled to the barest minimum.
With catalytic converters, vehicles can ensure that the remaining fuel that is unburned in the engine is converted to less harmful gases — carbon dioxide and water vapor.
Interestingly, carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, which means it is detrimental to the ozone layer. On the flipside, though, plants require carbon dioxide to grow, and water vapor is pretty much harmless.
How Does It Work in a Vehicle?
A semi catalytic converter works in a vehicle by combusting the fossil fuel that the engine does not burn. It does this using a heated catalyst. This completes the combustion process of the fuel and ensures that carbon monoxide and water vapor are the main exhaust gases.
Semi catalytic converters have plates in them that contain a series of plates that are shaped like honeycombs through which the gases generated in the engine can pass. The plates contain various metals and the chief gas and diesel oxidation catalyst, which is usually platinum.
They are cylindrical in shape and resemble mufflers, with exhaust gasses entering from one end and leaving from the other.
Since the semi catalytic converters are located so close to the car’s engine, they are heated when the engine starts working. When sufficiently heated, the catalysts in the converter start the combustion process for the unburned fuel.
Where Can It Be Found in Vehicles?
The semi-catalytic converters can be found in the exhaust system of semi-truck vehicles. The exact location of semi truck catalytic converters depends on whether the truck has a vertical or horizontal exhaust system. The truck catalytic converter location is usually close to the engine to ensure sufficient heating.
In semi-trucks that have a vertical exhaust system, the catalytic converter can be found on either or both sides of the cabin. This is because the exhaust pipe usually runs along the side of the semi-truck. On the other hand, semi-trucks that utilize a horizontal exhaust system have their catalytic converters underneath the vehicle.
What Is It Made Of?
A semi catalytic converter is made of various precious metals, including platinum, palladium, and rhodium. The catalytic converter itself is made from a substrate that can withstand extremely high temperatures, and its interior contains a series of plates that hold the catalysts in a honeycomb-like structure.
The precious metals found in semi-catalytic converters are worth a lot of money, making them common targets for car thieves. When the catalytic converter is stolen, the metals can be sold as scraps for a few hundred dollars. It will cost you up to $4,000 to replace the entire semi-catalytic converter.
Does It Improve Fuel Efficiency?
No, a semi catalytic converter does not improve fuel efficiency. Over the years, the idea that using a catalytic converter increases fuel efficiency has caught on, but this is false. A catalytic converter can actually worsen fuel efficiency because of the back pressure of gasses in the engine.
Exhaust back pressure simply means a buildup of pressure in the exhaust system of the engine because of the restriction on the free flow of gasses.
Catalytic converters increase the back pressure in the engine and reduce its fuel efficiency. Experts even notice that vehicles without catalytic converters have higher fuel efficiency than those that have these converters.
Also, considering that semi catalytic converters only come into effect after gasses have been combusted, they do not play any role in the combustion process. The fuel that is burned in the catalytic converters is irrelevant to the energy generation of the engine, as this energy is dispelled as heat.
Can You Drive a Vehicle That Is Missing Its Semi Catalytic Converter?
Yes, you can drive a vehicle that is missing its semi catalytic converter, but the driving experience will be far from optimal. Some of the signs you will observe are unnaturally loud engine noises and a bumpy ride, especially when you demand more power from the vehicle.
The loud engine noises are among the first signs you will notice, especially when you drive for extended periods. Although there may be different causes of a vehicle’s engine making unnatural noises, missing or faulty semi-catalytic converters are one of the most typical causes.
Another common sign that you are missing a semi catalytic converter is the unpleasantness of accelerating the vehicle. The ride may be bumpy, and you may hear a hissing sound every time you hit the gas pedal.
Of course, you could also simply examine your exhaust pipe. If you notice that a hole has been drilled in the exhaust, your semi-catalytic converter may have been stolen.
Is It Legal To Drive a Car Without It?
No, it is not legal to drive a car without its semi catalytic converter. If you drive such a vehicle, you will most likely be stopped by police officers if your vehicle is unnaturally loud or there are hissing sounds as you move.
The reason for a catalytic converter in any vehicle is to reduce the carbon footprint and pollution of vehicles. Government authorities take this very seriously, and if your vehicle fails an emission test, you may find yourself in legal trouble or having to pay fines.
Aside from the legality of driving a vehicle with a missing semi catalytic converter, you should realize that the converters are there for a good reason.
They protect the environment, and all drivers should be committed to this. Also, any increase in fuel efficiency or performance by removing a catalytic converter is slight and not at all worth the legal risk.
How Does the Semi Catalytic Converter Affect the Coolant in a Ford F150?
How Can You Protect Your Semi Catalytic Converter Against Theft?
You can protect your semi catalytic converter against thieves by taking the right safety precautions and parking your vehicle in areas that are secure or with CCTV cameras. Also, you can invest in technology that will help prevent your catalytic converter from being stolen or track down thieves if stolen.
The easiest and safest prevention strategy against the theft of your semi catalytic converter is parking your vehicles in areas with CCTV cameras or that are controlled. These areas tend to be less visited by thieves because of the fear of being easily caught during or after stealing the catalytic converter.
Another strategy is to protect your catalytic converter by welding a metal frame around the converter, which significantly restricts the access of thieves to the converter.
While this strategy doesn’t guarantee that your catalytic converter will not be stolen as thieves get very creative, it does make it much more difficult, and many thieves may consider it not worth the effort.
The final strategy is to employ technology to prevent theft or track the thieves if the catalytic converter gets stolen. There are different tools you can invest in, with a common one being an alarm that goes off if there is suspicious activity around your vehicle.
You can also put a tracking device on the converter or engrave your VIN on its surface.
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