What Causes Your Car to Produce More Pollutants?

If you are driving to work five times a week, you are likely one of the 230 million drivers in the United States who aggressively threatens the environment just by driving. That’s because driving is now considered as the top contributor to air pollution. Good thing there are emission regulations that limit the allowable emissions.

However, did you know that your car’s emission can be compromised due to internal issues involving specific components? Allow us to discuss the common car problems that lead to high emissions. Causes vary depending on the underlying problem. Some emissions involve high Hydrocarbon (HC) footprint, while there are some that involve high Carbon Monoxide (CO) traces.

Emission problems may result in a high Hydrocarbon (HC) footprint and high Carbon Monoxide (CO) traces.

Hydrocarbons and Carbon Monoxide

We hate to break it to you but it isn’t too much love that kills you. Rather, it’s too much of the harmful fumes coming out of your car, such as hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide, that are more likely to kill you. Hydrocarbons are associated with unburned fuel. This harmful pollutant passes to the air by means of fuel evaporation, which often happens when filling up or when there’s a fuel leak in the system. Carbon monoxide emissions, on the other hand, are caused by problems relating to the fuel delivery system, evaporative control system, and crankcase vapor control system.

5 Most common causes of high emissions

Fuel injection problem

Fuel injectors are responsible for injecting fuel into the combustion chamber. These injectors are managed by the engine control unit. If one of these two components malfunctions, it could cause an imbalance in the combustion’s air-fuel ratio. This, in return, is what causes your car to emit more harmful gases than it normally does.

Bad mass airflow sensor

Another component that could go wrong aside from the fuel injectors and engine control unit is the mass airflow sensor. The mass airflow sensor calculates the rate of air entering the engine during the combustion cycle. It then sends this information to the engine control unit, which determines the amount of fuel needs to enter the combustion chamber. If the mass airflow sensor malfunctions, your engine may tend to burn more fuel. This is known as the rich fuel mixture and it’s harmful because it releases excessive amounts of carbon monoxide.

Your engine burns more fuel when you have a faulty mass airflow sensor.

Bad EVAP system

The Evaporative Emission Control System (EVAP) is a system that stops gas fumes from being freed into the atmosphere. The EVAP system includes vents, vacuum hoses, and the gas cap. If one of these things get damaged, nothing will stop the fumes like hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide from spreading into the air. EVAP leaks are caused by loose fuel cap, use of wrong fuel cap, fuel tank leaks, hole on the EVAP hose, and a purge valve leak.

Vacuum leak

The Manifold Absolute Pressure (MAP) sensor is what feeds the engine control unit with information about the manifold pressure. A failing MAP sensor could cause leaks along the vacuum lines or gaskets, which renders to higher emission readings. A leak along the vacuum lines often creates loud hissing sound and could cause your car poor fuel efficiency and accelerator problems.

Bad oxygen sensor

Cars are equipped with oxygen sensors to track the amount of oxygen in the exhaust gas. It determines the optimal air-to-fuel ratio through real-time monitoring. If this device malfunctions, your engine will tend to operate with poor air-to-fuel ratios that lead to a dramatic increase in exhaust emissions. You’d know if your oxygen sensor is failing if the check engine light on the instrument cluster is constantly lit up.

A broken oxygen sensor can cause your engine to run with poor air-to-fuel ratio resulting in increased exhaust emissions.

Is there anything you can do to curb high emissions on your car?

The prevention of toxic gasses exiting your car and getting into the environment is highly dependent on your catalytic converters. A catalytic converter has two main functions, one of which is helping the engine to operate at the ideal air-to-fuel ratio by sending signals to the engine computer to either increase or decrease the intake of oxygen. Another function of the catalytic converters is to convert toxic Carbon Monoxide, Nitrogen Oxides, and Hydrocarbons as they pass through its ceramic chambers effectively reducing their pollutant effect on the environment.

Catalytic converters don’t require maintenance but the pipes leading to it do. Ensure that these pipes aren’t punctured or have clogged passages. Also, converters run at high temperatures that can damage the interior of the chambers which will lead to your car emitting toxic gas. When you initially start your engine all the systems are cold including your catalytic converter. It will not effectively operate at these temperatures. Diesel engines also run quite cold making their converters inefficient. Get your vehicle’s catalytic converter inspected by a trusted mechanic every five years. A clogged or damaged converter affects the performance of your vehicle and can cause overheating.

Though vehicles stuck in traffic are one of the top contributors to air pollution, we also have to keep in mind that other factors like factories, air conditioners, and even certain agricultural practices also have a hand in polluting the earth. Keeping your car’s engine in good running condition is key to helping clean our air. Always stick to your scheduled oil changes, and switch out all the essential filters to keep your engine running efficiently.

Author: JC Whitney

JC Whitney is the largest and oldest catalog and Internet direct-to-consumer auto parts and accessories retailer in America. Since 1915, JC Whitney has been filling the needs of customers by providing the right part at the best price. You can always shop with confidence at JCWhitney.com.

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