There are numerous reasons that can result in the damage of catalysts, although on a theoretic level the catalyst can last as long as the engine. Some of those reasons are:
Even an instant malfunction in the car’s CPU can cause the catalyst to overheat and its cells to melt.
Poor engine maintenance
If the engine burns oil that oil moves through the exhaust with the gas fumes and gets stuck in the cells of the catalyst. This can neutralize the catalyst’s chemical attributes, rendering it inactive
Quality of gas
Compromised quality of gas can damage a catalyst. Moreover, most car manufacturers require the exclusive use of premium unleaded gas in order to maximize the protection of the engine and the catalyst.
Poor maintenance of the exhaust system
A gas fume leak (hole) in the tubing before the catalyst can cause catalyst overheating and damage. Similarly, congested mufflers due to poor maintenance can result in gas reflux and shatter or melt the catalyst’s cells.
Poor maintenance of the lambda sensor
The lambda sensor provides ratings regarding the air-gas ratio to the engine and should be replaced after a specific total of kilometers traveled (depending on manufacturer specifications). An inactive lambda sensor can result in immediate damage to the catalyst.
Knocks are the main reason for catalyst damage, in correlation with the quality ofpavement of the Greek highways. A knock can shatter the core of the catalyst, as the cells operate close to their melting point when the car is moving.
Driving over water
When the car is moving the catalyst operates at extremely high temperatures. If for some reason the catalyst is submerged in water, the sudden change in temperature can smash the core of the catalyst.