Taking good care of your exhaust and emission system is not only good for the environment but for your car’s and your own well-being. Many new vehicles are coming equipped with a host of sensors and regulators to measure the emissions your vehicle puts into the atmosphere.
The emission system monitors the exhaust using an array of sensors and computerized engine controls to substantially reduce harmful gases such as carbon monoxide, unburned hydrocarbons and oxides of nitrogen, and prevents harmful fuel vapors from escaping at the fuel tank. Other functions include routing dangerous exhaust gas away from the car and help to reduce engine noise. The catalytic converter is also part of the emissions system as it reduces the level of harmful pollutants in the exhaust. Oxygen sensors mounted in the exhaust system monitor the level of oxygen in the exhaust gases to maintain efficient engine operation and monitor the converter’s operation.
The Emission system is subject to typical wear and tear due to driving and atmospheric conditions, mileage and vehicle age, type of spark plug, maintenance history, bad fuel, poor spark and/or damaged or worn sensors. The system should be inspected for leaks, damage and broken supports or hangers if there is an unusual noise, or when rattling is starting. Leaks can be extremely dangerous as it can allow carbon monoxide into the passenger compartment. Often mufflers and other exhaust systems components are replaced together as they will generally wear at the same rate or because sections are welded together.
Another clue you may need your emission system inspected is if the exhaust has an acrid smell almost like ‘rotten eggs’ and the engine has begun to run poorly. These symptoms may mean the catalytic converter is not working. The catalytic converter takes the gases created by the combustion of the fuel and turns the gases into more harmless emissions that do much less damage to the environment. The useful life of a catalytic converter depends principally on proper maintenance of the vehicle. If your vehicle runs rough, there is smoke coming from the tailpipe, or the CHECK ENGINE LIGHT appears on the instrument panel, have your vehicle checked immediately in order to avoid potential expensive damage to the catalytic converter. It is never a good idea to ignore the “check engine light’ especially if it is flashing.
Finally, a quick word on diesel emissions, diesels of old were known for being noisy and producing volumes of black smoke out of the tail-pipe. With changes to the make-up of diesel fuel, advances in diesel engine technology and the addition of a diesel particulate filter in more modern diesel engines, when running optimally, often produce fewer emissions than the typical vehicle running on gasoline.
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