A catalytic converter can break as easily as any other car part, but many people need a fix after a converter theft.
Unfortunately, the precious metals inside a catalytic converter can be worth money at scrap yards.
According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, catalytic converter theft increased by over 300 percent between 2019 and 2020.
So, what’s the cheapest way to fix a catalytic converter? Cleaning it is the first thing you should do and the cheapest way to fix it. However, let’s look at the other ways to fix a catalytic converter on a budget.
What Does A Catalytic Converter Do?
In an internal combustion engine, the catalytic converter converts the pollutants from the exhaust gas into less harmful substances.
You can usually find the converter in the exhaust pipe between the engine and the muffler.
The converter consists of a honeycomb or mesh structure coated with a catalyst, usually platinum or palladium.
As exhaust gasses flow through the converter, the catalyst causes a chemical reaction that breaks down the harmful pollutants into less toxic substances such as carbon dioxide and water vapor.
Can A Catalytic Converter Be Repaired?
The answer is maybe. If the problem is simply a clogged converter, it might be possible to clean it and get it working again. However, if the converter is damaged beyond repair, you’ll need to replace it.
One of the most important things you can do is ensure your car is running correctly so that a catalytic converter repair is unnecessary.
A well-tuned engine will produce fewer emissions, so your catalytic converter won’t have to work as hard.
Keep up with regular maintenance, including oil changes, and address any engine issues promptly.
It would be best if you also were mindful of how you drive. For example, sudden starts and stops put extra stress on the catalytic converter, so it’s best to avoid them if possible.
And, if you frequently drive in stop-and-go traffic, consider investing in a ceramic substrate catalytic converter, which can better withstand the heat generated in those conditions.
If you’re not sure whether your converter can be repaired or not, it’s best to take it to a mechanic and have them take a look. They’ll be able to tell you for sure whether they can fix it or not.
What Is The Cheapest Way To Fix A Catalytic Converter?
The cheapest way to fix a catalytic converter is to check if it needs cleaning. A mechanic will be able to tell you if your converter needs unclogging.
However, replacing a catalytic converter on the cheap may be more difficult. Ask if anyone has a used converter they would be willing to sell.
Check online classifieds and forums to see if anyone is selling a used converter. If you do your research, you should be able to find a used converter for a fraction of the cost of a new one.
How Much Is A Catalytic Converter?
The average cost of a catalytic converter replacement is between $800 and $1,200.
However, a few factors can affect the price, such as the make and model of your car and the type of catalytic converter you need.
Labor Cost For Catalytic Converter Repair
The labor costs to install a new catalytic converter can range from $50 to $200, while the parts costs can range from $150 to $1,800.
How Long Does It Take To Replace A Catalytic Converter?
Replacing a catalytic converter is not a quick job. If the converter wasn’t stolen, the process starts with removing the old one and installing the new one.
The entire process can take a few hours, depending on the make and model of your car.
4 Signs Your Catalytic Converter is Bad
There are several symptoms if you have a bad catalytic converter.
Here are a few:
1. Starter Trouble
If your car has trouble starting or it is taking longer than usual to turn over, then you may need to have your catalytic converter examined.
2. Power Loss While Driving
Nothing is more terrifying than the power going out while driving. Unfortunately, this issue is another hallmark sign of a malfunctioning catalytic converter.
3. Decreased Fuel Efficiency
With fuel costs continuing to soar, any level of decreased fuel efficiency will hit you harder in your bank account. In addition, if you miss several MPGs in a gas tank, you may have a problem with your catalytic converter.
4. Strange Smell Coming from Exhaust
If your exhaust pipe spews unexplained odors, you may need to have your catalytic converter cleaned or replaced.
Is Catalytic Converter Worth Replacing?
Yes. Many countries require cars to have catalytic converters – especially if they are newer model cars.
Cheap Catalytic Converter Replacement Shops
Car owners should check their favorite mechanic or the car dealership for pricing on replacing a catalytic converter. You can also check your local exhaust specialty shops.
Can I Fix My Catalytic Converter Myself?
Yes! If you have a greater level of car knowledge than your average person, changing a catalytic converter can be accomplished in an afternoon and will only cost you what it took to buy the parts.
Can You Clean A Catalytic Converter Instead Of Replacing?
Yes! There are several methods to clean your catalytic converter instead of replacing it. Several additives you can purchase and add to your fuel tank will run through the converter and clear it of any issues.
You can also remove the converter from your car and soak it in a degreaser for several hours to clean it. However, most car manufacturers will recommend replacing the device instead of cleaning it.
Can You Drive A Car With A Bad Catalytic Converter?
You can, but you are driving on borrowed time. While cars worked without catalytic converters for decades, modern cars need the device to help with fuel efficiency. Suppose you are driving your vehicle in a state like California.
In that case, you may incur fines of several thousand dollars if police catch you driving a car without a catalytic converter.
Cars without catalytic converters will also fail emissions standards in states where those tests are required to operate the vehicle.