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Thread: What color are healthy catalytic converters?

  1. #1
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    What color are healthy catalytic converters?

    I have been scouring the internet for the answer to this question. So far this forum has the best answers to any questions concerning cars so I'm asking here.

    I have a 2002 Ford Escape that is making very little power. It had a code for #2 misfire which I remedied with a new ignition coil. While I was in there I removed the valve cover to look at the cams (for long term). The car now pops a P1409 code for EGR. I removed the EGR tube while I had the valve covers and intake off and all is well. No vacuum leaks that I can hear/find and the car idles and revs fine in the garage on ramps/stands.

    Take it out to the street and its a DOG. The downpipes get very hot in a matter of 5-10 minutes. The car struggles to get to 50 MPH and can barely climb the slightest of inclines. The car itself is clean (no rust) but the exhaust past the last cat has a lot of surface rust. I had the exhaust apart near the engine and could see all three converters. They were light grey and seemed to have a nice distinct grid pattern. I did not see "chunks" or any of the other stuff most YouTube's talk about. Is it possible I just have a muffler full of corrosion/bits? I have not taken that part of the exhaust down quite yet.

    Should I be looking at the cats or the latter half of the exhaust?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Salem OR
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    7,507
    Unless they glow red hot like a banshee on the inlet, I don't think external color would be much of an internal health indicator

    How many miles on that Escape? How's the fuel mileage?

    I use a temp gun to check cat performance, seeing if they both range the same.

    You can check the temp at the front, and at the rear, of each one to compare. Right after a hill struggle would be the time, maybe.

    See: https://www.2carpros.com/articles/ho...ytic-converter

    As for fails, they can melt internally if overfueled, typical of a misfire, maybe not obvious on casual inspecting, but they usually rattle when the bricks break up, at least in my experience. When you inspected, did you shake and/or bump them to see if they sound like something is loose inside.

    Some exhaust shops can install test pipes that allow gases to pass thru so you can eliminate them from the culprit list.

    You can do the same temperature check on a muffler to see if it is plugged...the inlet will spank the gun vs. the outlet.

  3. #3
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    I just bought the car a week ago and put it on jack stands. I couldn't tell you what the mileage is. I did not take off the exhaust manifolds/headers so my inspection was just the output side. They do not get red hot. The car has 172K on it. Maybe its time to find a temp gun.

    Thanks KMT - I imagined it might be you who decided to response first.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
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    Salem OR
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    hey Scott - rained good last nite, sun came out and not discernable smoke today, the air won't kill you here in Salem for the first time a week, so...making plans to go to McMinnville next week to visit some car legends I know. Cabin fever taking it's toll.

    172k, I'd expect it needs injectors, O2 sensors and cats by now...maybe intake seals, because EGR code.

    About the coil, that doesn't surprise me, I just hope you bought a new Motorcraft part that came in -genuine- packaging. Those $16 coils are cheap for a reason. Ask me how I know

    Good luck.

    Ken

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Posts
    487
    Good evening


    The attachments are from magnaflow. Extreme discoloration is the key for a suspect cat.



    http://europe.magnaflow.com/02cataly...Inspection.asp


    https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&url=...AAAAAdAAAAABAD


    Hopes this helps.

  6. #6
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    Excellent information as always Sam Jones. I took the rear main cat and muffler off the car and basically shop vac flow tested it. It is REALLY clogged. Thanks for the suggestions guys.

  7. #7
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    > REALLY clogged
    Now you know the what....what about the why?

  8. #8
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    The last owner drove it with a #2 cylinder misfire (dead ignition coil) so it was getting plenty of fuel and no spark. The pre-cat in the exhaust manifold is fine. I drilled out the back cat to run a quick drive test. Pressure release = great performance and no codes now that I have the new coil in and a new EGR solenoid to keep the vacuum system working right. Ordered a brand new cat to replace later this week. Car is in the garage for the week until its roadworthy and can pass smog here in the area.

    The last owner shrugged and said he liked that it ran like a dog because it was his kids' car that they drove on errands. "They couldn't really speed in it", he said. Yeah - he was right about that, almost to the point that it was dangerous to drive anywhere other than residential 25/35 streets.

  9. #9
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    Nice... Thanks for the wrap up, g'luck w/it.
    Ken

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