To fix, or not to fix—that is the question.
Wondering whether it’s cheaper to get a faulty catalytic converter fixed rather than completely replaced?
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 explores the cost of a catalytic converter, why it’s so expensive, and the factors affecting the catalytic converter cost. We’ll also dive into nine catalytic converter FAQs.
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, you can expect to pay around $300 – $1,650 (not including labor) for a new catalytic converter. However, these prices usually depend on the cost of the parts and local labor charges.
For example, replacing a standard catalytic converter (CAT) in newer cars can cost between $500 and $2,200. Meanwhile, some low emission vehicles, like the Toyota Prius, may cost around $2,120 and $2,150.
The CAT, found between your exhaust manifold and muffler, filters 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 $59.70 and $260.42 per gram! 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 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 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 gas. 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 restricted exhaust fumes.
- 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 converter failure is to call in professionals like RepairSmith as soon as your check engine light comes 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 CAT is in place, 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 a scrap catalytic converter app like Eco CAT. Eco CAT provides a complete catalytic converter database for professionals in the scrap recycling industry and offers updated information on the scrap value of catalytic converters.
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. Aftermarket converters 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?
Converter theft is a massive issue that vehicle owners face.
Here are some precautions you can take to avoid a 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, 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 help you out.
At RepairSmith, we offer upfront pricing, convenient online booking, and a 12-month, 12,000-mile warranty on all repairs. And, we do all repairs directly in your driveway!
For most modern cars, you can expect to pay around $300 – $1,650 (not including labor) for a new catalytic converter. However, these prices usually depend on the cost of the parts and local labor charges. For example, replacing a standard catalytic converter (CAT) in newer cars can cost between $500 and $2,200.How much does catalytic converter cost? ›
Catalytic converter replacement isn't cheap. For most vehicles, the average cost of a catalytic converter repair is between $945 and $2475 including parts and labor. The catalytic converter cost itself can be up to $2250 of that.What's in a catalytic converter that cost so much? ›
Catalytic converters have economic value as they contain precious metals. This is the main reason why they are sold as the most expensive scrap. Because it contains rhodium, palladium and platinum, which are among the most precious metals.How much does a catalytic converter last? ›
A new catalytic converter should last for around 10 years but, as with most other vehicle components, the exact lifespan can differ. Mileage and engine tune can impact on the durability of the item, so it's worth checking the condition after 50,000 miles.Are all catalytic converters expensive? ›
The average catalytic converter ranges between $800 and $1,200, depending on the vehicle's make and model.How much do catalytic sell for? ›
What Affects Catalytic Converter Scrap Value? Catalytic converter worth can range from $800 to $1200. Let's take a look at some factors that drive scrap catalytic converter pricing: The precious metal composition of the car part influences catalytic converter scrap prices.Can a car run without a catalytic converter? ›
Can you drive without a catalytic converter? Yes, you could temporarily drive without a catalytic converter, and it won't damage a modern car or engine. But in the long run, it'll emit harmful gas, sacrifice your car's engine performance and fuel economy, and possibly get you in trouble with the law.What is the most expensive part of a catalytic converter? ›
Small amounts of rhodium are also found within a catalytic converter. Rhodium, like platinum and palladium, is very rare and valuable. Even though the monolith is the most valuable part, recyclers are almost always buying the full converter and extract the ceramic themself in order to avoid depreciation or fraud.How much is the metal worth in a catalytic converter? ›
The average catalytic converter has 3 to 7 grams of platinum worth about $100 – $237. Platinum is more valuable than gold, silver, and even palladium and is a good target for thieves. As of 2022, the platinum price is $997 per ounce and $32.18 per gram. Keep in mind the platinum price constantly fluctuates.What's the most expensive catalytic converter to scrap? ›
The most costly catalytic converter was the Ferrari F430, which had a mind-boggling $3,770 price tag. Furthermore, since the F430 required two of them, replacing it entirely would cost car owners $7,540 before taxes.
Since replacing a catalytic converter can be such a big job, you may end up paying higher labour costs. The car needs to be lifted off the floor, and if the converter is welded or bolted to the car the mechanic may need to use specialist tools.How long can I go without replacing a catalytic converter? ›
Catalytic Converters are estimated to last at least 10 years, but they don't need to be swapped out as soon as those 10 years are up.Why is it so expensive to replace a catalytic converter? ›
Cost to replace the catalytic converter of your car
So, why is this small part so expensive? Mainly because of the precious metals that are included in the converter, such as platinum, or platinum-like material such as palladium or rhodium. So, the more expensive the material, the more expensive it is to replace.
Unburned Fuel Entering the Exhaust System.
This can over-heat the converter far beyond its normal operating limit. and cause a Melt Down. Possible causes are an improper fuel mixture, incorrect timing, bad spark plugs, a malfunctioning oxygen sensor, sticking float, defective fuel injector or a faulty check valve.
A cheap catalytic converter may work for a while. In our experience, we have found that they're good for about a year to maybe two years.Is catalytic converter worth replacing? ›
Additionally, driving without one can be dangerous because your vehicle won't accelerate properly. You may also notice that your car has lesser power in lower gears. Therefore, replacing the catalytic converter is important and should not be delayed.Can I drive with a bad catalytic converter? ›
A Bad Catalytic Converter Can Burn Through Overtime
Most of the problems related to catalytic converters do not affect the function of your vehicle. If you have to deal with a fully plugged catalytic, avoid driving your car. If you notice smog coming from your car, it is best to seek professional help immediately.
- Step 1: Contact the Authorities. ...
- Step 2: Contact Your Insurance Company. ...
- Step 3: Visit a Mechanic. ...
- Loud Vehicle Noises and Missing Catalytic Converter. ...
- Rough Driving and Acceleration. ...
- Annual Vehicle Inspection Failure. ...
- Harmful Car Emissions. ...
- Avoiding a $250 Fine.