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Catalytic Converter Replacement Cost: A Price Analysis

Marc Skirvin
Marc Skirvin

What's in this Article

When you think of car maintenance, you probably think about the transmission, the engine, the brakes, and HVAC maintenance. You probably don’t think about the catalytic converter.

That is because this is not a typical repair to have to make on a car more than once, and some cars will never need a replacement. However, some do!

If yours is in need of a catalytic converter, you may wonder what the catalytic converter price is. You may also be wondering what the catalytic converter even does.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about this car part so you feel informed if you ever need to replace it!

What Is a Catalytic Converter?

A catalytic converter is responsible for filtering your vehicle’s emissions. It filters through it and then eliminates excess emissions and pollutants that come from the car’s exhaust system.

How does it do this? Because of the honeycomb shape of the converter, it sorts through particles of toxic gases before letting them escape into the environment. This essential part of your vehicle is what helps to reduce your carbon footprint every single time you drive it.

So you may be wondering, if you happen to not care about the environment (but you should), do you really need it?

The answer is yes. In some states, it is actually illegal to run your car without a catalytic converter. And in the other states, well, you’ll just be harming the earth and have to deal with that guilt within your own inner consciousness.

How Do I Know If My Catalytic Converter Has Gone Bad?

There are a few different ways you can tell if your catalytic converter has gone bad.

Hopefully, if you are lucky, you’ll never have to deal with your catalytic converter going bad. They are meant to last the entirety of your vehicle’s life, but some are not always so lucky. They can go bad due to fuel, oil, additives, malfunctions, or overall poor maintenance of the vehicle.

But, if you notice a few things, you should have a mechanic diagnose the issue. It could be a sign of a clogged or damaged catalytic converter.

  • The check engine light is on
  • The engine stalls
  • Decreased engine performance
  • Decreased fuel efficiency
  • The exhaust smoke is dark
  • There is a sulfur-like smell coming out of the vehicle
  • Your car failed its emissions test

While you can continue to drive with a bad catalytic converter, it is not recommended. If you do drive and there is something wrong with it, it can lead to more problems with your car’s exhaust system.

If you bring your vehicle into a maintenance and repair shop, they will be able to tell if you have a bad catalytic converter. First, they can run codes if your check engine light is on, which will tell them if it is the catalytic converter. They can also take a look at the part itself and run other necessary tests to determine the issue.

Temporary Fixes for the Catalytic Converter

Luckily, you can sometimes fix the catalytic converter with a quick fix, like an additive to the oil that will clean the tank. However, that is not always the case.

With that said, it may be in your favor to try some of these methods before replacing the entire part. Here are just a few.

Catalytic Converter Cleaner

If you go to any auto store, you can find a catalytic converter cleaner. This cleaner is added to the gas tank to try to flush out the system and unclog the converter.

There are directions on the back of the bottle to follow, as every brand is going to be different. Be sure to follow the directions precisely so that you don’t make anything worse.

Clean the Converter

If you are a handyman or like DIY projects, you could even try to clean the actual catalytic converter yourself.

To do this, you will have to remove the catalytic converter to open it up. The best method to clean it would be a pressure washer to flush it all out. You can even soak the catalytic converter in a detergent and degreaser mix overnight to clean it.

Before reinstalling, be sure it is dry.

Catalytic Converter Price

As you probably know, the price of vehicle parts (both new and used car parts) is more expensive than just the part itself. That’s because someone needs to be paid for the labor to actually install the part.

So what does that mean?

In simple terms, this means that it is not cheap. However, it’s even more expensive if you choose to forego the replacement when other fixes don’t work and let other problems build up in your vehicle.

So here’s what to expect:

The average cost of a catalytic converter is a couple of thousand dollars. This can be more or less depending on labor costs as well (this is dependent on how long the replacement takes as well as the shop’s prices themselves). It also depends on the car you drive. While cars may cost about $1,000, larger vehicles like cargo vans could cost around $2,500 for a replacement.

Warranties

When it comes to car repairs, it is always important to double-check the warranties that your vehicle has. Even if you think it isn’t under warranty, it is better to know than to spend more money than you have to. It is worth doing some research to find out.

For instance, you may have an extended warranty on vehicle parts through your dealership up to a certain number of miles.

If you don’t, you may be covered by the government’s Federal Emissions Warranty. Many people don’t realize this and may be spending much more money than they have to!

To qualify for the warranty federally, your vehicle has to be under 80,000 miles or 8 years old (whichever comes first). This could replace the entire catalytic converter or just parts of it. This warranty only applies to cars that are newer than 1995.

To know if you qualify, you can take your vehicle to the local dealership to have a conversation about it. If your car qualifies for the warranty, they will take care of it all. You won’t have to worry about submitting anything, filling out paperwork, or any of the other difficult filings that you may expect with a federal warranty.

How It Works

So why is the Federal Emissions Warranty a thing, and how does it work?

The federal government enacted this warranty to make it easier for individuals to replace their converter if something goes wrong. This ensures that the environment is not harmed as much as it could be if people drove around with a bad catalytic converter. It is important to note that the manufacturer can deny this warranty coverage if there is evidence that the converter went bad due to improper care or purposeful damage.

The following will tell you if you would be eligible to receive a new part under warranty:

  • Your car or truck fails an approved emissions test
  • Your vehicle is less than 8 years old/has less than 80,000 miles for major components
  • Your state requires that you repair the vehicle
  • The test failure does not result from the misuse of the vehicle
  • You present the vehicle to a warranty-authorized manufacturer representative during the warranty period

If any of these instances sound like yours, you are most likely covered by the warranty to replace your catalytic converter. If that’s the case, you do not need to worry about being out of pocket!

Catalytic Converter Price

Now that you know what a catalytic converter is, and more about what it does and how much a replacement may cost, you are up-to-date with the most important aspects of a catalytic converter.

If something ever happens to this part of your car, you will know what to do! And now you know that you may also not be on the hook for the full catalytic converter price (or any of it) depending on the mileage and age of your car under the Federal Emissions Warranty!

However, if you are not under warranty, and your car is old, it may be time to sell your vehicle. You can get a quote for what we would offer you at Cash Auto Salvage!

We will take the car off your hands so you don’t have to deal with it!

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About the Author

Marc
Marc

Marc is the Co-Founder of Cash Auto Salvage and Director of daily operations. He retired from a leading Internet Marketing company in 2013 and has been involved in the automotive industry ever since.

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