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What you see here is merely a small selection of commonly asked questions and/or inquiries.  Check back often as we are constantly updating information.  If you have a specific question and/or problem, feel free to send us an email !

Broken or Melted Converters

Quite simply converters are not the cause of the problem, but rather the result of a problem. Why was the OE converter replaced in the first place? If it was replaced because it was melted or broken what would lead you to believe that the same problem would not happen to a replacement converter? Unfortunately most technicians do not look further into the problem, they just assume it is a "defective" converter and the reason it melted and broke up into pieces was because it was "defective". Is it simply amazing how many techs buy into this way of thinking.

There are NO moving parts inside a converter. If a converter is installed with a brick ( substrate ) that is not broken what would cause this substrate to become broken? The answer is thermal failure. Thermal failure happens when the operating temperature of the converter exceeds 1200 deg F. The general reason is fuel contamination due to some type of engine operating system malfunction. When the engine runs in a rich air-fuel mixture, the excess fuel is forced into the converter via the exhaust system. This un-burned fuel burns un-checked inside the catalytic converter and raises the internal temperature of the converter excessively.

The first stage in the destruction of the catalytiic converter is the "burning off" of the precious metals. They begin to move to the rear of the converter and the efficiency of the converter begins to drop at an exponential rate, thereby triggering the CHECK ENGINE light with a PO420 code ( catalyst in-efficiency). At this point most technicians will simply replace the catalytic converter and claim to have solved the problem, rarely is it simply this easy.

If the problem is more extreme, the next stage in the process is for the converter matting to be burned away. This is the material that surrounds the "brick" inside the converter shell. Once this matting is burned away the bricks begin to move around and rattling noises are most likely heard by the customer. This normally occurs when internal temperatures reach between 1700 and 2100 deg F. In about half of the cases when this occurs, the brick can actually rotate inside the converter shell and block the outlet of the converter, thus substantially restricting exhaust flow.

The most dramatic, stage of the destruction process is when temperatures exceed 2100 deg F. At this point the ceramic begins to break apart or melt or a combination of the 2. It is a constant battle to educate technicians and customers on why their converter needs to be replaced, possible for the second or third time. Most are open minded and willing to learn, some believe that there is nothing new for them to learn. With todays high technology cars and trucks so many systems are related to each other and can affect one another, it is very important to think outside the box when diagnosing difficult problems. At the same time, you can use converters on modified vehicles without problems. We have been using our line of converters for a number of year in cars ranging from turbocharged Honda engines to twin-turbo Mercedes AMG models with thousands of trouble free miles. If you have specific questions about your car or light truck, feel free to email us !


Common problem vehicles


We work closely with trained technicians on a daily basis for information and problem vehicles that they encounter on a daily basis. Below is a list of some of the more common ones;

1) Nissan Altima 2.5L 02-06. These cars are notorious for issues with the manifold converter assemblies. There are a number of problems that lead to the destruction of converters, aftermarket or OEM units. They can be destroyed in as little as one day. The following reasons will result in the destruction and/or break-up of the internal ceramic substrate; excess burning of engine oil, faulty primary O2 sensor, faulty ignition module, and or long service intervals.

2) Ford F-series 5.4L 04-08. These trucks changed to a new design spark plug that if left in the cylinder head for more than even 35,000 miles tend to accumulate carbon deposits around the 'barrel' of the unit causing it to seize in the cylinder head. Many techs are aware of this and will not attempt to change plugs on this truck for fear of breaking the spark plug in the cylinder head; once the plug is broken it requires the entire removeal of the cylinder head at major expense. When this plug becomes old, mis-fires occur, and the end result is a damaged, broken, and/or melted converter

3) Audi A4 / VW Passat 1.8T. These cars had a problem with faulty ignition packs. This results in mis-fire and complete destruction of the ceramic substrate. VW did recall some models in the US and replaced the ignition modules and solved the problem, however, there are still many models that have not been repaired properly and continue to have problems with damaged converters.

4) Mazda Millenia S 2.3L. These cars are notorious for destroying rear manifold converters, this is the converter located between the engine and firewall. The main cause are faulty ignition packs and faulty or lazy primary O2 sensors. We have seen converters detroyed in as little as 20 miles. If you own or are repairing one of these vehicles, make sure these problems are resolved OR you are pretty much garanteed that the replacement unit will fail again, including OE units.

4) Mazda Protege. Models made from 1999 to 2003, with all engine sizes, go through the manifold mounted converters like there is no tomorrow, again the primary culprit is either a faulty ignition module and/or faulty or lazy primary O2 sensors. This is a well known problem, and any one with one of these models should make sure they have and updated or non-faulty ignition module before attempting to replace a damaged converter.

4)Mazda MX5 Miata. Models made from 1999-2002 have a well know problem with faulty ignition modules. Cracks in the casing of the ignition modules allow moisture to seep in and cause mis-fires, damaging the converter in no-time. The dealers are aware of this problem and most have had their modules replaced or updated. If you are replacing a converter on this vehicle, make sure you have a properly funcitoning unit or the replacement converter will also be damaged.

This is just a small example of problem vehicles, everyone should do their own homework, which is simple as searching the intenet for 5 minutes, to determine the common problems with their cars or trucks before replacing a catalytic converter. The original converter should never have to be replaced for melted or broken issues, if this has happened to your car then there IS A PROBLEM somewhere. There are indeed some substandard units on the market, but even the very best or most expensive converter, including OE converters cannot withstand the above types of problems and survive !


Metallic substrate converters

What are Metallic substrate converters and when do we use them ?

Metallic substrate converters are converters in which the "brick" is made from a metal foil rather than ceramic. Our line of metallic converters are exclusively 200 cells per inch whereas the ceramic substrate cores are 400 cells per inch. The washcoat and precious metal loading is done in a way so that both types of converters are extremely effective in reducing emissions and preventing premature Check Engine Light conditions.

Why would you want to use Metallic substrate converters?

We use these types of converters for a number of reasons. Firstly, we use these cores for true high-flow direct fit converter applications. Secondly, we use these type of converters in fleet applications. This is due to the fact that these vehicles are subject to more stressed conditions, i.e. long idle periods, long service intervals, and high mileage vehicles. Thirdly, we use these cores in certain manifold converters that are extremely close to, or integrated in, exhaust manifolds. Metallic cores will resist melting and breaking apart like ceramic core converters (see our other tech article) they will not stop the precious metals from being "burned off" and triggering the Check Engine Light or failing an emissions test from this condition. Converters that break apart so close to the cylinder head can cause a number of potentially costly repairs, including being "sucked" back into the engine and damaging the engine to the point where a rebuild is necessary. Now under NO circumstance would this be due to a "defective" converter, as a engine problem would cause the converter to break up in the first place. We design our products to eliminate potential disasters like this when developing replacement units. Most aftermarket manufacturers choose not to go this route simply because of the cost; Metallic cores range from anywhere from double to 5 times the cost of a similar ceramic core converter. Even outside manifold applications, using a metallic cored converter can bring the owner piece-of-mind that the converter will not break-up and plug or damage the rest of the exhaust system. A good example of this would be the "up-pipe" converters found before the turbo on some Subaru turbo models. We have seen some manufacturers that make a replace converter using a ceramic core, either because it is a cost issue OR because they simply are not aware of the potential disaster situation that exists. Imagine a Subaru running higher boost, or simply out of tune, and that converter melting, breaking apart, and being sucked into the turbo!!! This would turn into a costly repair. Should you desire a metallic cored converter, simply let us know, as any one of our more than 1500 direct-fit converters can be manufactured using metallic cored converters.

Protecting the Environment

meadowDoing our part to protect the environment.

At Muffler Express we firmly believe in protecting the environment for future generations. Our line of OBDII-Configured Catalytic Converters are designed to exceed EPA standards and requirements. Our customers constantly comment on how much our converters reduce the emission levels when having smog tests performed on their car or light truck. We go that extra mile to ensure we produce a product that not only will last a long time in terms of durability, but also keep reducing emissions and protecting our environment for alot longer than our competitors. Our goal is simple, to be the best, not the largest. While it costs significantly more to produce our product, the benifits far outweigh the cost of the extra expense. After-all, there is nothing more important to us than the health of our children or grand-children.











The truth about aftermarket exhaust


The truth is our products are developed from an ORIGINAL OEM SAMPLE. Many manufacturers of replacement exhaust products today simply copy a competitor's product and have rarely OR never seen their finished product installed on a car. As ridiculous as this sounds, it is common practice today. This, unfortunately, has given replacement exhaust a bad name and have even led some to not even consider replacing their factory exhaust with anything from the aftermarket. We had realized this more than a decade ago when we first opened our doors, and decided at that time to make a difference. The general reason that this is done is simply because of cost. It is far easier to use "universal" flanges, brackets, compromise on tubing diameter, resonator size, converter size and type, and many other factors.

Our product is far more expensive to produce that that of our competitors. First and foremost, nearly 100% of our product is sourced from the USA or Canada. This keeps quality high and jobs at home. In fact, in some instances there is more money in the machining of flanges and brackets than our competitors put in their entire product. This does, however, ensure that our product will fit and perform right the very first time. We continually introduce new products and technologies in order to bring the very best product to the aftermarket. We currently invest an average of 20% of revenues on R&D, resulting in the introduction of several new applications per week. Each and every application goes through the following stages;
1.Select application for development
2.Obtain "test" vehicle
3.develop prototype sample in tandem with OE sample
4.test-fit prototype on vehicle
5.perform road test
6.perform any adjustments if required
7.assign part number and production begins

After reading and understanding the above procedures you will understand what sets us apart from the competition and why OE manufacturers and fleet accounts use us!


What is Mandrel Bending


What is Mandrel Bending and why is it important ?


Mandrel bending is a type of tube bending. When a pipe is mandrel bent the diameter of the tube remains constant throughout the entire bend; no restriction and no variation in diameter. An easy way to think of this is imagine a pipe with a number of bends and an inside diameter of 2", and mandrelcyou have a ball with a diameter of 2". If a pipe is mandrel bent you would be able to put the ball in at one end of the pipe and it will be able to roll through the entire pipe and exit at the other end, without getting stuck. In comparison, the majority of replacement exhaust is either compression bent ( smooth but is crushed where bent) or wrinkled bent ( where there are vertical "dents" throughout the bend). Mandrel bending is typically not used because of the extra cost involved in bending tube in this manner. However, mandrel bending is FAR SUPERIOR in every aspect.

The tube lasts longer because it does not introduce weak spots while bending
There is NO restriction in flow, which results in NO change in performance, sound OR fuel economy
The general appearance is far superior

Now, lets compare bending from pictures In the image below. The majority of aftermarket exhaust is bent as "crinkled bending" (top left picture). This is done mainly for cost savings. This type of bending allows the company to use much thinner tubing without the risk of the tube colapsing and tooling is much cheaper. The end result is a terrible bend for fuel economy, performance, sound, longevity, or general appearance. A step up form this bend in the aftermarket is a smooth compression bend ( bottom right picture). While this type of bend does not produce wrinkles, and generally a thicker tubing is used, it still produces a restrictive bend. It is acceptable for small degree bending, but when larger bends are required it just does not compare to a mandrel bend. The final, and superior bend, is the Mandrel Bend. In this type of bend the diameter remains constant and not only looks much better, but performs much better as well. Mandrel Bending requires significant more capital investment than the other types of bending. Machine cost is more, toolings is more, plus there are consumable items not associated with the other types of bending. However, the resulting product is somthing that can attract a higher price point and allow the re-seller or installer a healthy profit margin as it produces a product that you can show to the customer before installation, rather than using an item that you hope the customer will never see under thier car.

What is so different about our OBDII-Configured Converters ?

Our line of OBDII-Configured catalytic converters are completely different from standard-duty converters ; in short, the entire insides are different even though the outside may appear similar. Our OBDII-Configured converter uses at least 5" of substrate for ceramic versions, acat-compar highly advanced washcoat, increased precious metal loading, improved O2 storage and release, and long term reliability. The MAJORITY of aftermarket converters use either 2", 3", or 4" thick substrate at the maximum, not to mention they are not truely designed to work on OBDII vehicles. Our OBDII configured converters that are used on 1995 and newer vehicles use the OBDII-Configured Catalyst exclusively. In summary, it is what inside that counts. Our typical ceramic unit below has 7.5" of total substrate, whereas the competition uses only 3" ; a picture is worth a thousand words!


Why did my converter fail

This is the first question that everyone should be asking, unfortunately 99.99% of the technicians, counter-people, and salespeople just say the following, "the converter was just defective." This is the biggest misconception in the emissions business today, and it is simply due to the lack of knowledge on how converters function by the people making the statement. Our converters are designed not only to meet, but to EXCEED government standards. When the internal substrate is coated it goes through a weight check 5 times to ensure the proper amount of precious metals were applied, 15 quality control checks, and a back-pressure test. As a result comments like, "the converter felt like it was plugged" or "it must have been defective from the factory" do not apply to our converter cores, if it was the case they simply would not pass the tests from the factory.

Generally, if a replacement converter fails it is the result of one of the following

1) the converter has not reached operating temperature. Also, there is a special procedure to condition the converter before a smog test, this is normally found in most automotive operators manuals today

2)oil or coolant contamination or excess fuel

3)ignition problem, i.e. misfire.

Educating yourself is the key to understanding todays' emission control systems. Regardless if you purchase a converter from us or not, ASK your technician WHY your converter need replacing and if they give you the line "because it is defective" chances are they have no clue what caused the problem and you can be assured that the same thing WILL happen again to your replacement converter.

Why do i have a PO420 code?

Quite simply converters are not the cause of the problem, but rather the result of a problem. Why was the OE converter replaced in the first place? If it was replaced because it was melted or broken what would lead you to believe that the same problem would not happen to a replacement converter? Unfortunately most technicians do not look further into the problem, they just assume it is a "defective" converter and the reason it melted and broke up into pieces was because it was "defective". Is it simply amazing how many techs buy into this way of thinking.

There are NO moving parts inside a converter. If a converter is installed with a brick ( substrate ) that is not broken what would cause this substrate to become broken? The answer is thermal failure. Thermal failure happens when the operating temperature of the converter exceeds 1200 deg F. The general reason is fuel contamination due to some type of engine operating system malfunction. When the engine runs in a rich air-fuel mixture, the excess fuel is forced into the converter via the exhaust system. This un-burned fuel burns un-checked inside the catalytic converter and raises the internal temperature of the converter excessively.

The first stage in the destruction of the catalytic converter is the "burning off" of the precious metals. They begin to move to the rear of the converter and the efficiency of the converter begins to drop at an exponential rate, thereby triggering the CHECK ENGINE light with a PO420 code ( catalyst in-efficiency). At this point most technicians will simply replace the catalytic converter and claim to have solved the problem, rarely is it simply this easy.

Over the years we have sold thousands of catalytic converters, without a single legitamate failure. Many technicians today are simply not up to the task and educated well enough to accurately diagnose problems on today's complex vehicles. Many are still stuck in the old school way of thinking, just swap out a part that is giving a diagnostic code and the problem will magically solve itself. Perhaps one of the biggest offender of this is are new car dealerships that have an entire parts department at thier disposal. Many problems is today's high-tech cars can simply be resolved as something as simple as a software re-flash.

The very first thing to check when getting the PO420 code is the following; are there any other residual codes stored in the ECU? Another problem that interacts with the engine ECU could trigger a PO420 code. The software programmed into today's vehicle is very complex and advanced, and as much as the software engineers try to have the ECU adapt and learn, it can only go so far in it's analysis. We had an excellent example of this with a customer would purchased a set of converters for a Mercedes ML320. After driving for 3 months, the check engine light came on, and when the individual took it to a Mercedes dealership he was told that the converter on the right side was not working, "as if it was a straight pipe", and to take it back where he got it from. The customer was hesitant as he was aware of our quality converters and went to another Mercedes dealership, and an additional 3 independent garages that specialized in Mercedes products; all giving the same answer. When the customer contacted us about this and gave the list of symptoms, it was obvious to us it could not have been a converter isssue at all. to make a long story short, it was a defective fuel pump and once replaced not only did the vehicle drive like it was new, ALL of his problems were gone and the Check Engine Light went out right away.
It is a constant battle to educate technicians and customers on why their converter needs to be replaced, possible for the second or third time. Most are open minded and willing to learn, some believe that there is nothing new for them to learn. With todays high technology cars and trucks so many systems are related to each other and can affect one another, it is very important to think outside the box when diagnosing difficult problems. At the same time, you can use converters on modified vehicles without problems. We have been using our line of converters for a number of year in cars ranging from turbocharged Honda engines to twin-turbo Mercedes AMG models with thousands of trouble free miles. If you have specific questions about your car or light truck, feel free to email us !