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Catalytic Converter Repair & Replacement

Modern vehicles have a catalytic converter to help control emissions produced by internal combustion engines. The catalytic converter, or “cat” for short, is a component of the exhaust system that converts harmful pollutants into less harmful emissions.

When the catalytic converter works correctly, you won’t notice its presence. When the cat starts to fail, it definitely makes itself known. The most common sign of a problem with your catalytic converter is the noxious smell of rotten eggs.

Troubleshooting Catalytic Converters

If you have an emissions test performed, you will learn exactly which part of the catalytic converter has failed. Your technician can also perform an analysis of the exhaust gases to identify the fail point. In most cases, the failure results from a thick layer of contaminants on the walls or clogs in your catalytic converter.

Catalytic Converter Replacement

If the cat is indeed failing you will need to have it replaced at that point to restore your vehicle's low emission status and overall performance. In addition to an increase in harmful emissions, continuing to drive with a faulty cat can result in a loss of power, especially during initial acceleration.

Selecting a Catalytic Converter

Unfortunately, you cannot have your catalytic converter replaced with a used unit to save money. The sale of used cats is against the law due to the strict regulations surrounding emission control systems. Luckily, you can have your technician source a new catalytic converter within a short time period to quickly return your car to the road.

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Catalytic Converter Repair FAQs

Theoretically, yes - a bad catalytic converter can be driven indefinitely. However, it is not advisable to do so, as your converter may burn all the way through if the engine is running or burning oil too much.

It’s usually best to opt for a catalytic converter replacement. This is an important component of your exhaust system which cuts down on air pollution. The converter uses precious metals such as palladium or platinum, so in terms of costs, there isn’t a very big difference between repairing and replacing.

Yes. For instance, if you have a clogged catalytic converter, then your vehicle’s engine will have to work harder, which means it will be harder to shift the transmission. Additionally, a bad O2 sensor or a dirty mass air flow sensor may cause your gears to stick.

A catalytic converter replacement can be anywhere from $300 to $3,000, depending on the type of vehicle, as this affects both labor and the price of parts.

The most common sign is the sulfur smell, or the smell of rotten eggs. However, there are other symptoms of a bad converter such as a large fuel economy decrease, failed emissions test or Check Engine light. A noticeable lack of acceleration can also be a sign.