How Many Catalytic Converters Are In A Ford Explorer

How Many Catalytic Converters Are In A Ford Explorer

How Many Catalytic Converters Power a Ford Explorer? As we glide down the roads, our trusty Ford Explorer not only takes us on exciting adventures but also endeavors to leave a smaller environmental footprint.

Deep within its exhaust system lies a technology that plays a pivotal role in curbing harmful emissions and safeguarding the air we breathe – the catalytic converter.

But how many of these elusive emission warriors are hidden beneath the hood of our beloved Explorer? Join us on an eye-opening journey as we unravel the secrets behind the number of catalytic converters that power the heart of this iconic SUV.

Get ready to discover how Ford’s commitment to environmental responsibility and performance converge in the quest for a cleaner and greener driving experience.

How Many Catalytic Converters Are In A Ford Explorer

Table of Contents

How Many Catalytic Converters Are In A Ford Explorer

The number of catalytic converters in a Ford Explorer can vary depending on the model year and engine configuration.

However, most Ford Explorers typically have two catalytic converters, one for each bank of the engine.

Background of Ford Explorer

The Ford Explorer, a mid-size SUV manufactured by the Ford Motor Company, has a rich and influential background that spans several decades. Introduced in 1990 as a 1991 model, the Explorer quickly gained popularity and became one of the best-selling SUVs in the United States.

The idea for the Explorer was inspired by the success of the smaller Ford Bronco II and the increasing demand for family-oriented vehicles with off-road capabilities.

The first generation of the Ford Explorer, launched in 1990, was based on the Ford Ranger platform, featuring a body-on-frame construction and rear-wheel drive. It offered a blend of ruggedness, utility, and comfort, appealing to a wide range of consumers.

The early models came equipped with a 4.0-liter V6 engine producing 155 horsepower and were available in both two-door and four-door configurations.

In 1995, Ford introduced the second generation of the Explorer, which marked a significant design overhaul. It adopted a more rounded and aerodynamic body style, moving away from the boxy appearance of its predecessor.

The second-generation Explorer offered improved safety features and optional all-wheel-drive (AWD) capabilities, making it more versatile for different driving conditions.

The third generation, launched in 2002, saw the Explorer adopting a more refined and car-like design. It also received upgrades to its suspension system, resulting in better ride comfort and handling.

During this generation, Ford introduced its AdvanceTrac electronic stability control system, further enhancing the vehicle’s safety features.

In 2006, the fourth generation of the Explorer was unveiled, featuring a more modern and angular design. Ford introduced various technological advancements, such as the SYNC infotainment system, offering improved connectivity and entertainment options for occupants.

Fuel efficiency became a primary focus, leading to the introduction of the V8 engine and a V6 engine with a turbocharger.

The fifth generation of the Ford Explorer, which arrived in 2011, underwent another significant redesign. This generation marked a shift from the traditional body-on-frame construction to a unibody construction, making the Explorer more car-like in handling and ride quality. The available engine options included a more fuel-efficient EcoBoost four-cylinder engine alongside the traditional V6 engine.

In 2020, the sixth generation of the Explorer was introduced with an emphasis on electrification. Ford offered hybrid and plug-in hybrid variants alongside conventional gasoline engines, catering to the growing demand for eco-friendly vehicles. This generation also saw the return of the rear-wheel-drive platform for certain models, enhancing its performance capabilities.

Throughout its history, the Ford Explorer has had a significant impact on the SUV market, influencing the development of other mid-size SUVs from various manufacturers. Its success and popularity have solidified its position as a staple in Ford’s vehicle lineup, reflecting the company’s commitment to innovation, performance, and meeting consumer needs.

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How Many Catalytic Converters Are In A Ford Explorer

Understanding Catalytic Converters

Catalytic converters play a crucial role in modern vehicles, including the Ford Explorer, by reducing harmful emissions and helping to protect the environment. Understanding the function and significance of catalytic converters is essential in appreciating their impact on vehicle performance and environmental sustainability.

Definition and Purpose

A catalytic converter is an emission control device installed in the exhaust system of internal combustion engines. Its primary purpose is to convert harmful pollutants in exhaust gases into less harmful substances before they are released into the atmosphere. Catalytic converters facilitate compliance with stringent emission regulations imposed by various environmental agencies.

How Catalytic Converters Work

Chemical Reactions

Inside the catalytic converter, there are precious metal catalysts (typically platinum, palladium, and rhodium) that facilitate chemical reactions.

Oxidation and Reduction

Two main processes occur in the catalytic converter: oxidation and reduction. These reactions convert carbon monoxide (CO) into carbon dioxide (CO2) and hydrocarbons (HC) into water vapor (H2O) and carbon dioxide.

NOx Reduction

In the presence of the catalysts, nitrogen oxides (NOx) are reduced to nitrogen (N2) and oxygen (O2).

Types of Catalytic Converters

Three-Way Catalytic Converter (TWC)

The most common type, capable of simultaneously reducing CO, HC, and NOx emissions.

Oxidation Catalytic Converter

Focuses on reducing CO and HC emissions but is less effective at NOx reduction.

Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR)

Utilizes ammonia-based reductants to effectively reduce NOx emissions, commonly used in diesel engines.

Lean NOx Trap (LNT)

Traps NOx under lean engine conditions and reduces it during richer conditions, frequently used in gasoline direct injection engines.

Role in Emission Control

Compliance with Regulations

Catalytic converters are critical for vehicles to meet emission standards set by environmental regulatory bodies.

Environmental Impact

By reducing harmful pollutants, catalytic converters help improve air quality and minimize smog formation.

Global Impact

Widespread use of catalytic converters contributes to global efforts to combat climate change and limit greenhouse gas emissions.

Maintenance and Performance

Efficiency and Performance

A properly functioning catalytic converter ensures optimal engine performance and fuel efficiency.


Catalytic converters have a limited lifespan and may require replacement due to damage or degradation over time.

OBD-II Monitoring

Modern vehicles are equipped with On-Board Diagnostics II (OBD-II) systems, which monitor the catalytic converter’s performance and trigger warning lights if issues arise.

Advancements in Catalytic Converter Technology

Improved Catalyst Materials

Research focuses on developing more efficient and cost-effective catalysts.

Advanced Emission Control Systems

Integration of advanced systems, such as AdBlue in SCR systems, for better NOx reduction.

Future Prospects

Electric and Hybrid Vehicles

The transition to electric and hybrid vehicles may impact the role and design of catalytic converters in the automotive industry.

Stricter Emission Standards

As emission regulations evolve, catalytic converter technology will continue to advance to meet more stringent requirements.

How Many Catalytic Converters Are In A Ford Explorer

Emission Control Systems in Ford Explorer

The Ford Explorer is equipped with various emission control systems to comply with stringent environmental regulations and reduce harmful pollutants released into the atmosphere. These systems work together to minimize the vehicle’s impact on air quality and contribute to a cleaner environment. Here are some of the key emission control systems commonly found in Ford Explorer models.

Catalytic Converter

As mentioned earlier, catalytic converters are essential emission control devices installed in the exhaust system of the Ford Explorer.
Ford uses various types of catalytic converters, such as three-way catalytic converters (TWC) capable of reducing CO, HC, and NOx emissions.

These converters contain precious metal catalysts that facilitate chemical reactions to convert harmful pollutants into less harmful substances before they are released into the atmosphere.

Oxygen Sensors (O2 Sensors)

Oxygen sensors monitor the oxygen content in the exhaust gases and provide feedback to the engine control unit (ECU). The ECU uses this information to adjust the air-fuel ratio to ensure efficient combustion and optimal performance. This feedback loop helps maintain proper fuel combustion, which leads to lower emissions and improved fuel efficiency.

Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) System

The EGR system recirculates a small portion of exhaust gases back into the engine’s intake manifold. By reintroducing exhaust gases, the EGR system reduces combustion temperatures, limiting the formation of nitrogen oxides (NOx). Lower NOx emissions contribute to improved air quality and help the Ford Explorer meet emission standards.

Evaporative Emission Control System (EVAP)

The EVAP system prevents the release of fuel vapors into the atmosphere. It captures and stores fuel vapors from the fuel tank and sends them to the engine for combustion, reducing volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions.

Positive Crankcase Ventilation (PCV) System

The PCV system removes harmful gases and vapors from the engine’s crankcase and routes them back into the intake manifold. By doing so, it prevents the release of unburned hydrocarbons and other pollutants into the atmosphere.

 Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) System (Diesel Models)

In diesel-powered Ford Explorer models, a Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) system is used to reduce nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions. The system injects a urea-based solution (AdBlue) into the exhaust stream, which reacts with NOx in the catalytic converter to convert it into nitrogen and water.

Advanced Emission Monitoring and Diagnostics

Ford Explorer models are equipped with advanced On-Board Diagnostics II (OBD-II) systems. OBD-II monitors the performance of various emission control components and alerts the driver with a warning light if any issues are detected.

This system ensures that emission control systems are functioning correctly and promptly identifies and addresses any potential emission-related problems.

Ford’s commitment to incorporating robust emission control systems in the Explorer ensures that the vehicle complies with environmental regulations, reduces its carbon footprint, and contributes to a cleaner and more sustainable environment.

How Many Catalytic Converters Are In A Ford Explorer

Number of Catalytic Converters in Ford Explorer Models

The number of catalytic converters in Ford Explorer models can vary depending on the specific model year, engine configuration, and emission regulations applicable in different regions. Generally, Ford Explorer models have one or two catalytic converters. Let’s explore the variations based on the different generations of the Ford Explorer.

First Generation (1991-1994):

Most first-generation Ford Explorer models, with their early emission control systems, typically had one catalytic converter. The single catalytic converter was installed in the exhaust system to reduce harmful emissions, including carbon monoxide (CO) and hydrocarbons (HC).

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Second Generation (1995-2001)

Second-generation Ford Explorer models also predominantly had one catalytic converter. As emission regulations became more stringent, some models introduced an additional pre-catalytic converter, known as the “pre-cat,” to further reduce emissions.

Third Generation (2002-2005)

By the third generation, the number of catalytic converters remained relatively consistent, with most models still featuring one catalytic converter. The “pre-cat” continued to be utilized in certain versions, contributing to enhanced emission reduction.

Fourth Generation (2006-2010)

In the fourth-generation Ford Explorer models, the number of catalytic converters generally remained at one or two. Some higher-end or special editions may have had additional catalytic converters to meet specific emission standards.

Fifth Generation (2011-2019)

The fifth-generation Ford Explorer continued the trend of having one or two catalytic converters, depending on the engine and emissions configuration. Some versions equipped with more powerful engines or advanced emission control systems might have had two catalytic converters.

Sixth Generation (2020-present)

With the transition to the sixth generation, Ford introduced more eco-friendly powertrain options for the Explorer, including hybrid and plug-in hybrid models.

These hybrid versions may have additional catalytic converters due to their complex emission reduction systems. Overall, the exact number of catalytic converters in Ford Explorer models depends on factors such as emission regulations, engine type, and the complexity of the emission control systems. As emission standards continue to evolve,

Ford is likely to adopt more advanced emission control technologies, which may affect the number and type of catalytic converters in future Explorer models.

Catalytic Converter Types Used in Ford Explorer

Ford Explorer models have used various types of catalytic converters over the years to comply with changing emission regulations and improve overall vehicle performance.

The specific types of catalytic converters employed in Ford Explorer models depend on the engine configuration, model year, and applicable emission standards. Below are the common catalytic converter types used in different generations of the Ford Explorer:

Three-Way Catalytic Converter (TWC)

Three-way catalytic converters are the most common type used in Ford Explorer models across different generations. TWCs are capable of simultaneously reducing three major pollutants: carbon monoxide (CO), hydrocarbons (HC), and nitrogen oxides (NOx).

These converters contain precious metal catalysts, such as platinum, palladium, and rhodium, that facilitate chemical reactions to convert harmful emissions into less harmful substances.

Oxidation Catalytic Converter

Some early Ford Explorer models may have been equipped with oxidation catalytic converters. Oxidation catalytic converters focus on reducing carbon monoxide (CO) and hydrocarbons (HC) emissions, but they are less effective at reducing nitrogen oxides (NOx).

Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) (Diesel Models)

Diesel-powered Ford Explorer models may have employed selective catalytic reduction (SCR) systems. SCR systems use a urea-based solution, commonly known as AdBlue, to reduce nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions into nitrogen (N2) and water (H2O) through a chemical reaction in the catalytic converter.

Lean NOx Trap (LNT) (Some Gasoline Direct Injection Models)

Certain gasoline direct injection (GDI) Ford Explorer models might have used lean NOx trap (LNT) technology. LNTs temporarily trap nitrogen oxides (NOx) under lean engine conditions and then reduce them during richer conditions to minimize NOx emissions.

Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid-Specific Catalytic Converters

Hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions of the Ford Explorer may have unique catalytic converter configurations to accommodate the additional complexity of the hybrid powertrain.

These converters are designed to work in conjunction with the electric motor and the internal combustion engine to optimize emissions and fuel efficiency.

It is important to note that catalytic converter technology has evolved over time, and newer Ford Explorer models are likely to employ more advanced and efficient catalytic converters to meet increasingly stringent emission standards and environmental regulations. As

Ford continues to innovate and improve its vehicle lineup, the use of next-generation catalytic converters may further enhance the Explorer’s eco-friendly performance.

Environmental Impact and Efficiency

The environmental impact and efficiency of catalytic converters in Ford Explorer models are crucial factors in promoting sustainability and reducing the vehicle’s contribution to air pollution. The catalytic converters’ effectiveness directly influences the level of harmful emissions released into the atmosphere and their impact on human health and the environment.

Reduction of Harmful Emissions

Carbon Monoxide (CO)

Catalytic converters efficiently convert carbon monoxide into less harmful carbon dioxide (CO2), a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change but is less toxic than CO.

Hydrocarbons (HC)

By catalyzing the oxidation of hydrocarbons, catalytic converters significantly reduce unburned hydrocarbon emissions that can contribute to smog formation and respiratory problems.

Nitrogen Oxides (NOx)

The reduction of nitrogen oxides is particularly essential in limiting ozone formation and mitigating respiratory issues.

Improving Air Quality

The proper functioning of catalytic converters in Ford Explorer models helps to maintain better air quality by reducing the levels of harmful pollutants in vehicle emissions. Lower emissions contribute to cleaner air, which is vital for public health and the environment.

Compliance with Emission Regulations

Catalytic converters enable Ford Explorer models to meet stringent emission regulations set by various governments and environmental agencies. Compliance with these regulations is necessary for vehicles to be legally sold and operated in many regions worldwide.

Impact on Fuel Efficiency

Efficient catalytic converters facilitate complete combustion of fuel, leading to improved fuel efficiency. Reduced emissions mean less energy is wasted, resulting in better mileage and lower fuel consumption.

Hybrid and Electric Vehicle Advancements

As Ford introduces hybrid and electric variants of the Explorer, the environmental impact becomes even more significant. In hybrid models, catalytic converters complement the electric powertrain and contribute to overall emission reduction.

In electric vehicles, catalytic converters may still be present to control emissions from auxiliary systems, such as the internal combustion engine used in plug-in hybrids.

Sustainability and Climate Goals

The environmental benefits of catalytic converters align with global efforts to combat climate change and achieve sustainability goals. By reducing greenhouse gas emissions and air pollutants, catalytic converters play a crucial role in mitigating the adverse effects of automotive activity on the planet.

Advancements in Catalytic Converter Technology

Ongoing research and development in catalytic converter technology aim to enhance their efficiency and reduce reliance on expensive and scarce precious metals.Advancements in catalyst materials and substrate design may further improve catalytic converter performance and longevity.

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How Many Catalytic Converters Are In A Ford Explorer

Maintenance and Replacement of Catalytic Converters

Proper maintenance and timely replacement of catalytic converters in Ford Explorer models are essential to ensure optimal vehicle performance, compliance with emission standards, and to prolong the converters’ lifespan.

Understanding the maintenance requirements and potential issues associated with catalytic converters can help owners take necessary actions to keep their vehicles running efficiently and environmentally friendly.

Maintenance Requirements

Regular Inspection

Include catalytic converter inspections as part of routine vehicle maintenance, especially during scheduled services or emissions tests.

Addressing Engine Issues

Resolve any engine problems promptly, as issues like misfiring spark plugs or malfunctioning oxygen sensors can damage the catalytic converter.

Potential Issues and Problems


Lead, oil, and other contaminants can clog or damage the catalytic converter, reducing its efficiency or causing a malfunction.

Physical Damage

External impacts or collisions can dent or crack the converter’s housing, leading to internal damage or exhaust leaks.


High engine temperatures caused by engine problems or rich fuel mixture can lead to the internal melting of the catalyst, rendering the converter ineffective.

Signs of Catalytic Converter Problems

Check Engine Light

A lit check engine light (CEL) may indicate a potential issue with the catalytic converter, prompting the need for a diagnostic scan.

Reduced Performance

A damaged or clogged converter may cause a decrease in engine performance, reduced acceleration, or a drop in fuel efficiency.

Exhaust Odors

A failed catalytic converter may produce a foul smell or a noticeable odor in the exhaust gases.

Rattling Noises

Internal damage can result in rattling or unusual noises coming from the converter.

Replacement Considerations and Cost

When to Replace

If the catalytic converter is damaged beyond repair or has exceeded its useful life, replacement is necessary.

OEM or Aftermarket

Ford recommends using original equipment manufacturer (OEM) catalytic converters for optimal performance and emissions compliance. However, aftermarket converters can also be suitable options, but they must meet the necessary emission standards.


The cost of a catalytic converter replacement can vary depending on factors like the model year, engine type, and local labor rates.

Legal Considerations


Ensure that any replacement catalytic converter complies with local and federal emissions regulations and standards.


Consider the warranty coverage offered by the replacement catalytic converter, as it can vary among manufacturers and suppliers.

Recycling and Disposal

Proper Disposal

Follow local regulations for disposing of old catalytic converters to ensure environmentally responsible handling of hazardous materials.


Catalytic converters contain precious metals that can be recycled, making proper recycling a more sustainable option. Regular maintenance and timely replacement of catalytic converters in Ford Explorer models are crucial not only for the vehicle’s performance but also for environmental protection and compliance with emission standards.

By staying vigilant and addressing any issues promptly, vehicle owners can contribute to a cleaner and greener driving experience while prolonging the life of their Ford Explorer’s emission control system.

Future Trends in Catalytic Converter Technology for Ford Explorer

As the automotive industry continues to evolve, catalytic converter technology for Ford Explorer models is expected to see significant advancements.

The focus will be on improving emission reduction efficiency, enhancing durability, and embracing new powertrain technologies. Several future trends are likely to shape the development of catalytic converter technology in Ford

Advancements in Catalyst Materials

Research and development efforts will concentrate on finding more efficient and cost-effective catalyst materials. Exploration of new catalyst compositions and alternative materials could reduce reliance on expensive and scarce precious metals like platinum, palladium, and rhodium.

 Nanostructured Catalysts

Nanostructured catalysts offer a higher surface area and enhanced reactivity, leading to more effective pollutant conversion. Utilizing nanotechnology in catalytic converters may boost their performance and efficiency, reducing emissions even further.

Real-time Emission Monitoring

Advancements in sensors and monitoring technology will enable real-time emission monitoring of catalytic converters. This data can be used to optimize engine performance, catalytic converter efficiency, and diagnose potential issues promptly.

Smart and Adaptive Catalytic Converters

Smart catalytic converters may adjust their performance based on driving conditions, optimizing emission reduction depending on factors like engine load, speed, and temperature. Adaptive systems could improve converter efficiency over time by learning from the vehicle’s usage patterns.

Catalytic Converters for Hybrid and Electric Vehicles

As Ford continues to expand its hybrid and electric vehicle lineup, catalytic converters may be designed to complement these powertrains’ emission control systems. Even in plug-in hybrid vehicles, catalytic converters may still play a role in controlling emissions from auxiliary systems.

Emission Reduction for Alternative Fuels

Research will focus on developing catalytic converters optimized for reducing emissions from alternative fuels, such as biofuels and hydrogen. These converters will contribute to a greener and more diverse range of fuel options for Ford Explorer models.

Integration with Exhaust Energy Recovery Systems

Future Ford Explorer models may incorporate exhaust energy recovery systems, capturing waste heat from the exhaust to generate electricity or improve engine efficiency. Integrating catalytic converters with such systems can further enhance emission control and fuel efficiency.

Multi-functional Catalytic Converters

Catalytic converters may become more multi-functional, offering additional functions beyond emission reduction, such as air purification or exhaust noise reduction.

Longevity and Durability

Advancements in materials and design will aim to extend the lifespan of catalytic converters, reducing the need for frequent replacements. More robust and durable catalytic converters will lead to reduced waste and environmental impact.

As Ford continues to innovate and invest in sustainable technologies, catalytic converter technology for the Explorer is likely to see significant improvements.

These advancements will align with global efforts to achieve more stringent emission standards, reduce the automotive industry’s environmental footprint, and create a cleaner and more sustainable driving experience for Ford Explorer owners.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How many catalytic converters does a Ford Explorer have?

A Ford Explorer typically has two catalytic converters, one for each bank of the engine.

What is the purpose of catalytic converters in a Ford Explorer?

Catalytic converters in a Ford Explorer are essential components of the exhaust system that help reduce harmful emissions by converting toxic gases into less harmful substances.

Are there any variations in the number of catalytic converters based on the model year of the Ford Explorer?

Generally, most Ford Explorer models have two catalytic converters, but it’s advisable to check the specific model year’s documentation for accuracy.

Can I remove one of the catalytic converters from my Ford Explorer?

It is not recommended to remove catalytic converters from your Ford Explorer, as it may lead to increased emissions, reduced engine performance, and legal consequences in areas with emissions regulations.

How often do catalytic converters in a Ford Explorer need replacement?

The lifespan of catalytic converters can vary based on driving conditions and maintenance. Generally, they can last anywhere from 50,000 to 150,000 miles or more.

How can I tell if a catalytic converter in my Ford Explorer is malfunctioning?

Symptoms of a faulty catalytic converter may include reduced engine performance, decreased fuel efficiency, illuminated “Check Engine” light, and strange exhaust odor. A diagnostic scan should be performed to confirm the issue.

Are there aftermarket catalytic converters available for a Ford Explorer?

Yes, there are aftermarket catalytic converters available, but it’s important to ensure they meet emissions regulations and compatibility with your specific Ford Explorer model.

Can I replace a catalytic converter in my Ford Explorer myself?

While it’s possible to replace a catalytic converter yourself, it’s recommended to have the replacement done by a certified mechanic to ensure proper installation and adherence to emissions regulations.

Do catalytic converters come with a warranty for a Ford Explorer?

Catalytic converters may come with a warranty from the manufacturer or retailer, but it’s important to review the warranty terms and conditions for specific coverage details.

How do I maintain the catalytic converters in my Ford Explorer?

Regular maintenance of your Ford Explorer, including routine engine checks and using quality fuel, can contribute to the longevity of your catalytic converters. Additionally, avoiding aggressive driving and addressing any engine issues promptly can help maintain their efficiency.


In conclusion, the number of catalytic converters in a Ford Explorer varies depending on the model year, engine configuration, and emission regulations.

Throughout its generations, Ford has consistently utilized catalytic converter technology to reduce harmful emissions and comply with environmental standards.

From the early days of single catalytic converters to the incorporation of advanced systems in hybrid and electric variants, the Ford Explorer has evolved to embrace greener and more sustainable technologies.

As the automotive industry continues to innovate, catalytic converter technology is likely to witness further advancements, contributing to a cleaner and more eco-friendly driving experience.

Whether one or two converters power the Explorer, their significance in safeguarding our planet and promoting environmental responsibility remains steadfast. As we traverse the roads, we can take comfort in knowing that our trusted Ford Explorer is playing its part in preserving the beauty of our world for generations to come.






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