To fix, or not to fix — that is the question.
Wondering whether it’s cheaper to fix up a faulty CAT rather than get a replacement converter?
Or you may be the latest victim of a catalytic converter theft (bummer) and want to know why thieves target your catalytic converter.
This Article Contains:
- How Much Does a Catalytic Converter Cost?
- Why Does the Catalytic Converter Cost So Much?
- What Factors Affect Catalytic Converter Replacement Costs?
- 9 Catalytic Converter FAQs
- What Does a Catalytic Converter Do?
- How Long Should My Catalytic Converter Last?
- How Do I Know if My Catalytic Converter is Faulty?
- When Should I Get My Catalytic Converter Replaced?
- What Causes My Catalytic Converter to Break Down?
- How to Replace My Catalytic Converter?
- How Long Does it Take to Replace My Catalytic Converter?
- What is an Aftermarket Catalytic Converter?
- How to Prevent Catalytic Converter Theft?
Let’s dive right in.
How Much Does a Catalytic Converter Cost?
For most modern cars, a vehicle owner can expect to pay, on average, between $720 – $4108 (not including labor) for a new catalytic converter. That amount will hike up with the addition of labor charges.
For example, replacing a catalytic converter (CAT) in a Ford F-150 can average around $933. Meanwhile, a CAT replacement for some low-emission vehicles, like the Toyota Prius, may cost a little over $2,100.
The CAT is found between your exhaust manifold and muffler, filtering out the harmful exhaust gases and particles of unburned fuel your vehicle produces. So, it’s best to have your catalytic converter checked by an expert mechanic as soon as you spot an issue.
Now, let’s find out why catalytic converters are so expensive.
Why Does the Catalytic Converter Cost So Much?
The catalytic converter uses precious metals like platinum, palladium, or rhodium as a catalyst to purify harmful exhaust gas. They’re hard to find and cost between $875 to $4,650 per oz as of October 2023. As metal prices fluctuate, it follows that the price of CATs will do the same.
Did you know that the price of a junk car depends on a catalytic converter?
You’re offered less money for a junk car without a CAT because a catalytic converter increases a car’s scrap yard value.
Pro Tip: Thieves target your converter because of the precious metal content. Don’t just throw away your bad catalytic converter. Recycling your scrap catalytic converter allows the precious metal content to be reused.
Want to know what affects the cost of catalytic converter replacements?
Let’s find out.
What Factors Affect Catalytic Converter Replacement Costs?
Since replacing a bad catalytic converter can be a complex job, here are some factors influencing the cost:
- Your car’s make and model: Compared to the complicated CATs in new vehicles, older cars have a simple catalytic converter — resulting in low replacement cost. For example, a standard motor’s (Toyota Corolla) catalytic converter may have a lower replacement cost than a high-end vehicle’s (BMW) CAT.
- Quality of parts: When using quality parts, expect a high catalytic converter replacement cost. Although, the once-off expense will save you money in the long run.
- Labor charges: Labor costs depend on where you live — city mechanics may charge you more than the ones in the countryside. Plus, labor charges in dealerships or specialized shops can be more expensive than in a local shop.
Additionally, your mechanic may need to lift your vehicle and use specialist tools to remove a welded or bolted catalytic converter, which also influences labor costs.
Now that you know more about what drives your expensive catalytic converter costs, let’s address some questions.
9 Catalytic Converter FAQs
Here are the answers to 9 questions regarding your car’s catalytic converter:
1. What Does a Catalytic Converter Do?
Your CAT reduces harmful emissions by converting the harmful gas your exhaust manifold collects.
Inside your CAT, a chemical reaction occurs when the precious metal content reacts with these harmful pollutants. The chemical reaction (oxidation) converts carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, and unburned hydrocarbons (unburned fuel particles) into less harmful emissions of carbon dioxide and water vapor.
The water vapor and carbon dioxide then leave your exhaust system via your exhaust pipe.
Conversely, a clogged catalytic converter will release harmful exhaust fumes (nitrogen oxide and carbon monoxide) into the atmosphere.
2. How Long Should My Catalytic Converter Last?
A new catalytic converter usually lasts around 70,000 to 100,000 miles.
However, a CAT’s lifespan is affected by your driving habits. To ensure your catalytic converter lasts longer, bring your vehicle to proper running temperature and minimize short journeys.
Remember, regular maintenance will help your catalytic converter last longer and address catalytic converter issues before it needs expensive repairs.
3. How Do I Know if My Catalytic Converter is Faulty?
Be on the lookout for the following signs of a bad catalytic converter:
- The smell of rotten eggs on account of unburnt fuel containing hydrogen sulfide exiting your exhaust pipe.
- Your check engine light is on due to your oxygen sensor detecting a problem in the exhaust gas levels.
- You experience poor acceleration due to carbon build-up in your exhaust system and a restricted exhaust stream.
- Your vehicle fails an emissions test.
- You hear a rattling noise while idling or driving.
4. When Should I Get My Catalytic Converter Replaced?
If your mechanic diagnoses your catalytic converter as damaged, you should replace it immediately. Damaged catalytic converters are usually past the point of cleaning or repairs, and won’t convert harmful exhaust gases effectively.
But if you catch the problem early, you can most likely get away with a catalytic converter repair.
Repairing your CAT converter is an excellent way to save money and keep your car operating. For example, if you’ve just got a minimally clogged catalytic converter, your mechanic could opt to clean it.
However, while cleaning your catalytic converter might be the cheapest option, it’s not as simple as you’d imagine, and it may void vehicle warranties. Always confirm the cause of the problem before taking action, as cleaning a damaged catalytic converter won’t be enough to fix it.
5. What Causes My Catalytic Converter to Break Down?
The following elements can cause a converter failure and necessitate catalytic converter repair:
- Poor engine maintenance
- Coolant leaks
- Frequently using your car for short trips
- Broken O2 sensor (oxygen sensor)
- Broken spark plugs
6. How to Replace My Catalytic Converter?
The best way to deal with catalytic converter failure is to get a professional mechanic’s help if your check engine light pops on or you hear unsettling sounds.
Here’s what a typical catalytic converter replacement looks like:
- Your mechanic will use equipment to confirm a failing catalytic converter.
- They’ll then raise your car to access your catalytic converter comfortably.
- Depending on the make and model, they’ll unclamp, unbolt, or extract your old catalytic converter and fit your new converter securely.
- Once the replacement converter is installed, they’ll lower your car, run the engine, and do a few tests.
If you’re wondering what to do with your old CAT, look into scrap catalytic converter apps online that can help you value and sell your scrap CAT.
7. How Long Does it Take to Replace My Catalytic Converter?
It may take about 1-2 hours to replace your CAT converter.
It’s easy to access, so your mechanic won’t have to dismantle your car to remove the old one.
8. What is an Aftermarket Catalytic Converter?
An aftermarket catalytic converter is a pre-owned catalytic converter. They’re generally cheaper but come with considerable risks. An aftermarket converter won’t last as long as a new catalytic converter and may not meet regulations as stated on your vehicle’s emission sticker.
When considering this option, ensure you’re not purchasing a stolen catalytic converter.
9. How to Prevent Catalytic Converter Theft?
Catalytic converter theft is a massive issue that any vehicle owner may face.
Here are some precautions you can take to avoid catalytic converter theft:
- Always park your car in a safe place
- Make it easier to identify a stolen catalytic converter by marking it
- Invest in an anti-theft device that’ll make it difficult for thieves to remove your CAT
Remember, catalytic converter thieves could still get their hands on your CAT and sell it to a scrap dealer. Since catalytic converter replacement is costly, consider car insurance that covers converter theft.
Usually, all-inclusive car insurance covers the theft of your catalytic converter. But always check with your insurance provider first.
A catalytic converter replacement cost can run pretty high, and now you know why. As such, it’s important to follow routine vehicle maintenance to catch problems early and ensure your CAT lasts longer. This will help put off dealing with a failing catalytic converter for a while.
If you suspect an issue with your CAT or need maintenance services, consider contacting professionals like RepairSmith to avoid expensive catalytic converter repair.
We offer upfront pricing, convenient online booking, and a 12-month, 12,000-mile warranty on all repairs. And we do them in your driveway!