How Much Does Catalytic Converter Cost?

Ever wonder why with so many vehicles around the globe using gasoline and diesel, the air is still breathable and the world is still relatively safe to live in? Thanks to a special device that works wonders to how vehicles deal with toxic fumes.

A catalytic converter is an emissions control device that converts toxic gasses and pollutants in the exhaust gas to less toxic pollutants by catalyzing an oxidation and a reduction reaction. Catalytic converters are used with internal combustion engines fueled by either gasoline or diesel—including lean-burn engines as well as kerosene heaters and stoves.

The catalytic converter is one of the major innovations in the field of automobile that helps cut down air pollution significantly. Since the 70’s, car manufacturers began integrating these converters into the vehicle’s exhaust systems. But like any other parts, malfunctions of these device means an appointment to the mechanic is in the offing. The question is, how much are the catalytic converter prices? Or if it needs to be replaced, how much does catalytic converter replacement cost?

Average Cost of Catalytic Converter

Based on AngiesList, catalytic converter replacement costs around $2,000 on the average and becomes a cause of concern among many car owners.  But why do they have to be so expensive? It is because they contain precious metals like platinum, palladium, rhodium, and gold built inside them.

But don’t worry. There are some inexpensive catalytic converter replacement options you can purchase.

Taking into consideration these cheap types, catalytic converter costs around as low as $47.95 up to $1,748.68 or more based on Autoparts Warehouse. Installation takes around an hour, in which case, labor charge is around $75 to $120.

All costs mentioned are depending on the converter’s type and brand as well as the vehicle’s make, model and year it was produced.

Types can be two-way or three-way. A two-way is widely used in diesel engines while a three-way catalytic converter is typical in most gasoline-fuelled cars produced or manufactured in 1991 and onwards.

Catalytic converters on older model vehicles are typically less expensive to replace because of uncomplicated design. But some older and rarer cars are mostly more costly to repair.

Additional Costs

Due to the precious metals built inside the catalytic converters, they are often the target of thieves who sell them to metal recyclers. Therefore, several security measures have to be made to prevent this from happening. These include an etching kit which costs around $15 to $25, or welding additional metal protection on the converter or a lock which ranges from $50 to 160.

Factors Affecting Catalytic Converter Prices

  • Repair or replace – cost differs significantly between a repair and replacing the device altogether.
  • Original or not – your choice whether to install the expensive catalytic converter or the inexpensive ones can spell a big difference in the cost savings.
  • Model and year – the model and the year manufactured determine the type of catalytic converter to be installed.
  • Repair shop – catalytic converter replacement cost differs in different repair shops. So searching for the cheapest and the best service can spell the difference in cost savings.
  • Installation/Labor Cost – although the majority of the cost is concentrated on the device, different installation charges are still being added to the total cost of the service
car with exhaust converter

Shopping For a Catalytic Converter

Catalytic converters are available from retailers like Magnaflow, Discount Converters Ltd., among others, but most automobile service shops and dealerships, and standard repair shops can do catalytic converter repair and replacement.

Hire a Mechanic or DIY?

Do-it-yourself is possible for installation of Catalytic Converter. But doing so does not necessarily save you much money as the cost is mainly concentrated on the device itself rather than on the labor.

Another factor is that even if you know or have experience in installing the catalytic converter in the past does not necessarily mean you know how to install for all kinds of vehicle. The exact procedure varies depending on the make and model, and the year manufactured. So unless you are a seasoned mechanic yourself, it is better to hire a professional.

When to Replace the Catalytic Converter?

Symptoms of catalytic converter malfunction are often similar to other vehicle issues. The following matters are warning signs that you might need replacement of your catalytic converter:

  • Engine light is on or flashing – If the catalytic converter no longer operating efficiently, the engine light will come on as the engine begins to lose performance.
  • The vehicle has limited or no power – If the catalytic converter becomes plugged, the engine light will start to flash, and the engine may no longer start or worse, may stall.
  • A smell of rotten eggs inside the vehicle – Since the primary function of the catalytic converter is emission control; device failure would mean the toxic gasses that are supposedly converted to less toxic pollutants are not achieved. Hence, the smell.
  • Poor fuel economy – if your engine starts to consume more fuel than usual, it can be a sign of catalytic converter malfunction.
  • Backfiring and rough running which includes trouble accelerating.
  • Failing an emission test – if you fail to secure an inspection sticker due to a failed emission test, chances are, your catalytic converter is already failing you.

Important Notes

  • The United States requires that all passenger vehicles pass an emission test before inspection sticker is issued and catalytic converters play an important part in whether your vehicle will pass or fail the inspection.
  • Before deciding to replace the device, check whether it is still under warranty so you can save on the catalytic converter prices. Check on the United States Environmental Protection Agency for the rules on performance warranty coverage of vehicles.
  • Also, EPA does not allow installing a replacement catalytic converter that does not meet its standards or has not been properly tested and labeled.
  • Most often, there is a malfunction in other related parts like the spark plug or the exhaust valve that affects the functionality of the catalytic converter.
  • A catalytic converter replacement must be compatible with the particular year, make and model of vehicle.
  • Aside from the environmental benefits, catalytic converters reduce exhaust noise from your car.
  • Oxygen sensors might need to be replaced when the catalytic converter is replaced.

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