In a layman’s term, a catalytic converter is a car component that converts all the toxic pollutants and gases into less harmful compounds. Located on the bottom side of the car’s body, it basically filters all the harmful compounds from your car’s exhaust system, making them ‘harmless’ or ‘less harmless.’
To be a little more scientific over here, the catalytic converter contains precious metals, including palladium and platinum, that react with the exhaust gasses to reduce their emissions. You can tell that the catalytic converter has gone bad when your car feels underpowered.
You will also notice a drop in gas mileage by 10 to 20%. If left untreated, a bad catalytic converter can proceed to cause severe engine damage. In other words, you should never drive a car with a faulty catalytic converter. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most expensive parts of a vehicle.
How Much Does It Cost To Replace A Catalytic Converter?
Depending on the car or truck you own, you might encounter an enormous price difference, ranging from $100 to $800. After all, the kind of car you own will determine how complex it is to replace the catalytic converter.
In some cars, the time taken for replacement can increase by manifolds because of how difficult it is to conduct a repair on a particular car, depending on its make and model.
So, it’s better to check the labor costs beforehand before agreeing upon someone fixing your car. This will save you from unexpected surprises when the work is done.
Important Pointers: For vehicles older than 1981, the costs for parts alone would be between $300 to $1500. With the labor costs included, the price would bump up to $600 to $2200. For those who don’t know, catalytic converters contain platinum in them, which is why they are so expensive.
|Walmart||$500 - $1500|
|NAPA||$450 - $2000|
|Your Mechanic||$600 - $2200|
What Causes the Catalytic Converter to Fail?
Like any other car component, a catalytic converter is not immune to usual wear and tear. So, it can wear out naturally without any notice, simply due to the aging process.
Premature failure of the catalytic converter usually happens due to an incorrect mixture of air/fuel and misfiring spark plugs, which may leave unburnt fuel inside the exhaust system, causing the catalytic converter to run hot.
The good news is that a catalytic converter generally lasts for a car’s lifetime, especially when the catalytic converter is not made to work hard due to poor driving habits and lack of maintenance.
Can You Run a Car without a Catalytic Converter?
In most states, you won’t be able to do that because of the emission testing license that needs to be renewed periodically. Without a catalytic converter, your car will fail the test. In other words, driving without a catalytic converter would be a federal crime.
So, you won’t be able to drive for too long without paying a hefty fine.
However, if you come under a jurisdiction that doesn’t require such a license, you can afford to drive without a catalytic converter. But then, you will be causing a lot of environmental hazards. So, don’t be surprised if people report you when they witness a black cloud coming out of your vehicle.
That said, you might be able to find a mechanic who will be able to provide a temporary fix to the issue until you are able to afford enough to repair/replace the catalytic converter. Of course, you won’t be able to pass any inspections from the temporary fix.
Important Information: Some of the antique cars may not feature a catalytic converter. For those who don’t know, a catalytic converter was made mandatory in the year 1975.
Catalytic Converter Replacement Procedure Explained
Although it’s not a lengthy procedure to replace a catalytic converter, it’s a difficult one. Of course, it’s not as difficult as conducting a hip replacement surgery. But then, you will need specialized mechanical tools to do the job quickly and easily.
For instance, you may need a power saw to remove the catalytic converter from the system because it’s forcibly welded in position.
Of course, one would also have to ensure that the connecting parts are not damaged when using the saw to cut the catalytic converter. That’s why we would like to stress upon the fact that this automobile job is not for everyone out there.
Coming back to the replacement procedure, once the old part is carefully taken off, the new one needs to be welded in its place. As you can tell by now, it’s going to be a time-consuming affair, which should explain the high labor cost for catalytic converter replacement.
Once the new one is perfectly welded in place of the old catalytic converter, the mechanic will test the car to see if it’s giving any problems or not.
As expected, this would be done via a test drive. If you managed to replace the catalytic converter by yourself, don’t forget to take a few moments to admire your work. In fact, you can also take the liberty to make a few phone calls to boast about your accomplishment.
Important Pointer: It’s important that you find out what caused the earlier catalytic converter to fail in the first place, or else you will find that the new part will go bad in no time.
How to Save Money on Catalytic Converter Replacement Cost?
Frankly speaking, savings on an automobile job of this nature is fairly minimal because you will have to leave this labor-intensive job to the experts. Even if you attempt to do it yourself, it won’t be possible without specialized tools, which don’t come cheap in today’s age and time.
But then, you can save money by supplying the catalytic converter yourself, if you know where to get it at discounted rates. That said, a catalytic converter is a mandatory component of your car’s exhaust system. So, you shouldn’t get a low-quality catalytic converter.
Basically, you must not cut costs at the expense of quality. Cutting corners will only cause you giant-size grief/regret down the road.