View Full Version : budget buster - catylitic converter

05-16-2010, 08:58 PM

So, my dh car has the check engine light on and is due for an emmissions test. My bro replaced the spark plugs and that helped a lot of the problems. He says we need a new catylitic converter and it's too big of a job for him to do it, so I'll have to take it in. Anyone know how much this will set me back? Things were finally starting to fall into place, but now this happens. Thanks

05-16-2010, 09:17 PM
Find someone that will just cut it off for you. There are people out there and it doesn't effect the performance. I don't know much about it but I know my dad has had it done many times.

05-16-2010, 09:57 PM
I would not "cut off" my catalytic converter - because I need to do an emissions test every 3 years.

IIRC, a catalytic converter has a warranty that is far longer than the rest of the car. You might want to check that out before you spend your own money on a repair.

05-16-2010, 10:12 PM
FYI, if you live in a city that has emissions, DO NOT just cut off the converter and run straight pipe. You will fail the emissions test and could also be fined for cutting it to being with.

With that said, I would take it to a muffler shop (Midas, Tuffy), not a dealer. If I remember correctly you could be looking at a $600 bill. Its been years ago since I had t replace mine in my old Honda.

Good Luck.

Cheshire Figment
05-16-2010, 10:28 PM
But it may be (and probably is) just a bad Oxygen sensor.

05-16-2010, 10:32 PM
Probably $100 +/-

05-16-2010, 10:47 PM
I am not sure how much you are looking at - my hubby would know, but he is not home. However, just wanted to lyk...ask for the old converter back. My husband deals in car parts, and he gets $100-200 for each converter he recycles. The metals inside are worth a ton.

05-17-2010, 07:09 AM
But it may be (and probably is) just a bad Oxygen sensor.

This was one of my first thoughts.

I've had the Check Engine light come on in both my cars a couple of times, and it was almost ALWAYS an easy fix. Sometimes, just the gas cap needs replacing.

I think its pretty rare for the cat converter to go bad.

Did your brother get an actual readout of the check engine code, or is he guessing?

05-17-2010, 07:14 AM
Last September (I think) I had to replace that on my Chevy HHR. I went to a shop that was suggested to me by a friend as I know nothing about cars and where to go, I didn't shop around and I'm pretty sure I gotten swindled because I paid almost $1000 for a new 1 to be put on. :scared1:

05-17-2010, 07:48 AM
For my volks bug I was quoted 1000, thankfully I had nine days left on my warranty

05-17-2010, 08:06 AM
Back in the 90's, I had about 200 miles left on the warranty. Cat needed replaced and the dealer kept screwing around with forgetting to order, losing the order, etc hoping I would go home and drive back eventually exceeding my warranty. I had about 20 miles left when I left the car and said, fix it when you get the part.

I was quoted $1000. You can get universal cats at the parts stores for about $100.

05-17-2010, 09:28 AM
Do not follow the advice of some previous posts about "cutting-off" the catylitic converter -- you, the vehicle owner, could find some stiff penalties with both state and federal authorities (that's what I call a true "budget buster").

I will agree with one of the PPs and say take it to shop such as Midas -- you can expect parts and labor to run about 500 big ones...

05-17-2010, 09:42 AM
I'm sure after reading this that we WAY overpaid for ours! I think it ran almost $1200 for parts and labor to have ours replaced on our old Camry in Maryland. It had about 120,000 miles on it when we replaced it. Then it got totaled in an accident about a month later. DH was fit to be tied that he had just put all that money into it!

05-17-2010, 10:18 AM
But it may be (and probably is) just a bad Oxygen sensor.
Exactly. I've been driving for several years with the "check engine" light on. I've had it tested and it is simply the oxygen sensor that is bad. I have passed 2 emissions tests with this. Simply disconnect your car battery for a couple of minutes. This resets all the codes, making your check engine light go off. Then take the vehicle in for inspection. Be warned though, it only resets for maybe 80-100 miles or so, then the light will come back on. Good luck!

05-17-2010, 11:18 AM
The "check engine" light has been on in my old Subaru for about 3 years. When it is time for inspection, our mechanic checks the codes and repairs one thing. Then he resets the system. The check engine light goes out long enough for us to get a sticker.

We've replaced a bad O2 sensor and the catalytic converter. O2 sensor was a few hundred bucks I think and the cat was around $700. Both were aftermarket parts.

05-17-2010, 01:24 PM
How old is the vehicle? I have an '03 Pontiac and we needed to replace the catalytic converter last year or the year before. Even though the usual 3 year/30K mile warranty had lapsed, the CC is covered for 7 years so it was replaced at no charge.

05-17-2010, 03:19 PM
This was one of my first thoughts.

I've had the Check Engine light come on in both my cars a couple of times, and it was almost ALWAYS an easy fix. Sometimes, just the gas cap needs replacing.

I think its pretty rare for the cat converter to go bad.

A faulty/ bad Oxygen sensor is what causes the catalytic converter to fail. When the sensor has failed it causes the converter to work harder and hotter than it normally would, hence, causing the damage to the cat. A shop will usually go ahead and change the sensors (which can be 2 or 3 in newer cars) and when you add that to the cost of the converter, well it adds up. Because if they don't change the sensors, the new converter is just going to fail as well. Oxygen sensors are made to wear out over time, and as long as your computer warns you that there is a problem, the catalytic converter can usually be spared. It will cost OP around $80 to run a code check on the computer to see what exactly the codes are throwing, it could just be an oxygen sensor or it could be the converter.

05-17-2010, 10:48 PM
DH says..........

Careful with the "disconnect battery method' of clearing codes.

It also clears any memory of something called "monitors" that have been run and previously passed.

In many states, they will tell you "you can't pass right now" and inform you to drive the car for a couple of weeks and to try mixed driving. Some highway and some city.

Of course, if the root problem has not been fixed, the Check Engine Light will come back on.

PS. during your 2 weeks of driving, do not fill up the car with gas. Try to keep it between 1/4 and 3/4 so that certain parameters are met to run the tests.

05-18-2010, 10:20 AM
In my 05 Kia Sedona (which is my worst purchase ever, btw), my emission light codes recently indicated "possible" catylitic converter problems. For this vehicle warranty ended at 80K on the cc. Of course, I am at 86K. :headache:

If I remember correctly (because of course I was seeing red and steam was starting to come out my ears :rolleyes1) the dealer quoted me $750-1200 if it has to be replaced.

05-18-2010, 10:29 AM
May be a little late in the game to add info here, but I thought I'd throw in my 2 cents since my husband and I own several undercar care franchises.

1. Do not cut off your cc--can be a huge fine, and you won't pass emissions.

2. You can ask to keep the converter, but you won't leave with it. You will have to go back to the garage after 15 days because by law the garage is required to keep it for 15 days.

3. Although it is true that the converter is filled with precious metals, chances are those metals are all but gone and broken down--that is why your cc has failed to begin with. Garages do sell converters to scrap dealers, but remember, cc are like the cars themselves: the type of car they came off of and the type of converter it is coupled with what kind of metal is left inside impacts the resale price. Sometimes they are worth literally $0. Sometimes a few dollars, and every once in a while it could be worth $100, but that isn't the majority of the time.

4. And the reverse is true also--the converters costs so much to replace because they are filled with the precious metals and they cost a lot to make and purchase.

5. Again, a lot depends on the type of car you own. Some converters are more expensive than others, and chances are you also need some pipe replaced too. I know for a fact that some cars have two converters so that would be a double whammy!

Go get a quote--but not from the dealer. Their prices are typically higher at dealerships because of how much they pay all the layers of service people they have. Go to a franchise, Meineke, Midas, Firestone, etc.