Costopedia / Automotive / How Much Does a Catalytic Converter Cost?

How Much Does a Catalytic Converter Cost?

$ Two-way catalytic converter: $100 - $600+ (parts) $ $ Three-way catalytic converter: $200 - $2,500+ (parts) $ $ $ Professional replacement: $175 - $3,000+ (parts and labor)

A Catalytic converter, or cat for short, is a vital part of the exhaust system and emissions control in all vehicles.

The importance of catalytic converters inside cars is so much so that there are laws regarding their use in all combustion engine vehicles (without exception).

And what many car owners don’t know is that they can be even considered jewels inside the car as they often are subject to thieves due to their composition.

Why Are Catalytic Converters Important?

Catalytic converters control the exhaust emissions in all cars’ exhaust systems.

They are in charge of converting the toxic gases produced by the combustion engine of cars when the combustion process is taking place, transforming them into less harmful exhaust gases to the environment, which will be freed throughout the muffler.

Catalytic converters play a significant role in fighting pollution and reducing harmful emissions combustion engines produce; that’s the reason why they are controlled by clean-air laws that restrict the number of pollution cars can produce.

Here’s an article by Science ABC that explains the type of emissions cars produce and why they are harmful to humans and the environment.

How Catalytic Converters Work?

Catalytic converters have chambers inside like a honeycomb structure, made up of different rare metals located underneath the car in the vehicle’s exhaust system.

When the vehicle functions, the combustion engine produces exhaust gases and harmful compounds like hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides, and carbon monoxide that flow through the catalytic converter.

Once the exhaust products enter the catalytic converter, they are superheated and will react with its components, which work as a catalyst, turning them into less harmful substances through chemical reactions.

This video shows exactly how catalytic converters work, and for more information regarding the chemical reactions happening inside the catalytic converter, this article made by LetsTalkScience explains them very well.

Their composition makes them a popular target for thieves because they contain rare precious metals such as platinum, palladium, and rhodium; this is another reason why their price in the market is so high.

Why Can Catalytic Converters Become Bad?

Catalytic converters have high resistance, but they can go bad due to old age and wear like any other auto part.

Another thing that can make a catalytic converter go bad prematurely is a poorly running engine, unburned fuel or oil entering the exhaust, or ignored issues with a related part like the exhaust valve.

And something that could happen is that the catalytic converter can be robbed in locations with high crime due to its composition of rare metals, having to buy a new one as an only option.

What Are The Signs Of A Bad Catalytic Converter?

To know if a catalytic converter is damaged or not working correctly, there are a few signs to be aware of:

  • A failed emissions test.
  • The engine check light is on.
  • The exhaust is making sulfur or rotten egg smell.
  • The car isn’t accelerating properly.
  • Fuel economy issues.

What Affects Replacement Costs Of A Catalytic Converter?

Many factors affect the final costs of catalytic converters like the type, year, make, and model of your vehicle, where you take your car for the job, if the replacement is from an OEM or an aftermarket auto part, and the quality and type of catalytic converter you need.

It’s important to know that The Environmental Protection Agency regulates catalytic converters in cars, and it prohibits installing aftermarket catalytic converters that don’t meet EPA standards.

A two-way or dual catalytic converter can cost $100 to $600 or more; this can be found in diesel and gasoline engines manufactured before 1981.

A three-way catalytic converter can cost $200 to $2,500 or more; this can be found in most gasoline cars since 1981.

Labor and Installation costs can be around $75 to $120 an hour for both types of catalytic converters.

Then, the total costs for professionally installing a catalytic converter, including parts and labor, can cost $175 to $850 or more for a two-way catalytic converter, and $300 to $3,000 or more for a three-way catalytic converter.

Top Companies

Catalytic converters are available at online retailers like Amazon, Auto Parts Warehouse, and AutoZone.

And, you can get a catalytic converter replaced at dealerships, muffler shops, and auto repair shops like Midas and Pep Boys.

The following comparison shows the difference between prices and type of work some auto repair shops that address catalytic converter issues do.

Company Type of Work Price Range
Midas Parts and labor $450 – $1750
NAPA Parts and labor $400 – $2200
Pep Boys Parts and labor $420 – $1900
Walmart Parts $300 – $1400
Amazon Parts $250 – $2000

Things To Consider

Before Buying

  1. First, before replacing the catalytic converter yourself, check if it’s still under warranty. There exist the EPA’s Federal Emissions Warranty, which establishes that the catalytic converter must be covered for eight years or 80,000 miles.
  2. Also, before going for a replacement as a first option, if you believe the catalytic converter is only dirty or clogged, you can try using a catalytic converter cleaner. This video by Scotty Kilmer shows how to clean a catalytic converter by yourself.
  3. If the catalytic converter is damaged, it’s not safe to attempt a repair or cleaning, and a replacement is the best option.
  4. Check the type of catalytic converter your vehicle uses to make sure the replacement part matches your car perfectly.

When Buying

  1. Auto repair shops will include parts and labor for the catalytic converter replacing at their final price.
  2. Professionally replacing a catalytic converter generally takes about an hour, but it can be more depending on the vehicle.
  3. Buying a catalytic converter yourself and doing a DIY installation doesn’t necessarily save much money because most of the price comes from the catalytic converter itself. This video shows you how to replace a catalytic converter.

After Buying

  1. As the catalytic converter is a popular item among thieves, some people like to install some type of security measure to protect it, like an etching kit, which can cost $15 to $25, or a catalytic converter lock, which can cost $50 to $160.
Giovanna Soto