How Much Does a Catalytic Converter Replacement Cost?

Each time you get into your vehicle, you’ve got a lot on your mind. You’re thinking about getting to your destination and what you’ve got to do when you get there. You may be stressed with work or family issues. Hopefully you take safe driving seriously. But how much do you think about the emissions coming from your car?

Most people don’t consider this issue unless there’s a big problem. The catalytic converter minimizes the harmful materials coming out of the car’s tailpipe. If you notice excessive dark exhaust or foul smells, it may be time to look up what catalytic converter costs and start shopping. If you’re unfamiliar with this component, it’s helpful to learn about its role and importance.

So, How Much Will a New Catalytic Converter Cost?

Now that you realize how critical this component it, you’ll likely wonder “What does it cost to replace a catalytic converter?” First, understand that costs can vary considerably depending on the model of vehicle you drive. Some shops may charge a little more than others for labor, too. At the least, you can expect to pay around $950. For some vehicles, you may be looking at $2,500 or more to replace a damaged catalytic converter. You should also think about labor costs, which could cost between $70 and $130 an hour. The time it takes to finish the job will vary depending on the specific vehicle involved.

If you do this job yourself, you may only spend between $100 and $200 on parts. While the job can take some time, it’s not too difficult, especially if you buy a direct replacement catalytic converter. The type of converter also plays into cost and of replacement. In some cases, it could make sense to clean the catalytic converter before replacing it.

Types of Cat Converters

There are a few fitment options when it comes to catalytic converters:

There are also a few options as far as performance goes:

  • Federal: These devices function according to the specifications laid out by the Federal Government, and meet emissions standards in most states.
  • California or CARB: These devices are built to meet the more stringent emissions standards laid out by the California Air Resources Board (CARB). These are needed in California and a few other states including New York, Colorado, and Maine.

Make sure to get a catalytic converter that meets your state’s emissions guidelines, otherwise you won’t pass emissions.

What it Does

Any car owner surely knows how to locate the tailpipe. Most people can likely identify the muffler and know a thing or two about its functions. The catalytic converter may be more of a mystery. This part kind of looks like the muffler but behaves very differently. Inside this component are particles that heat harmful materials before they get into the air. These particles often include precious metals like palladium. If you’ve ever taken your car to the shop for an emissions test and received a failure notice, the catalytic converter may be the culprit.

This part has a structure like a honeycomb. The particles inside react with the exhaust particles. This process breaks down the exhaust into materials much less dangerous to the environment. Those byproducts that could otherwise create trouble in the atmosphere are burned up, leaving emissions that are less of a threat to humans, animals, and other living things. When you consider that this action is occurring with every car on the road, it’s easy to see how critical it is that the catalytic converter is working properly.

When You Know it’s Time to Replace It

Like any part, component, or accessory on a car, the catalytic converter won’t last forever. It’s important to recognize the warning signs that this part is dying and no longer doing its job effectively. If you need a new one, you can start researching the catalytic converter replacement cost, and explore different manufacturer’s options.

Some signs it is time for replacement include:

  • Your vehicle’s engine continues to stall or feels rough.
  • You hear a rattling sound near the tailpipe when your car is in idle mode.
  • The check engine light is on.
  • You smell a foul rotten egg odor coming from the tailpipe. You may notice this as you drive, while you’re in idle or when you’re standing outside of your vehicle while it’s running.
  • A mechanic diagnosing these issues may notice that the catalytic converter is hot or even glowing red.

The Consequences of Ignoring the Problems

Anytime you realize the catalytic converter is going bad, you need to take your vehicle to a mechanic right away. Don’t let the catalytic converter repair cost scare you. This is not an issue you can put off for long. If this part begins to fail it could start a fire. Other signs may come in other forms. For example, you may notice a big drop in your vehicle’s fuel economy. An overdue oil change can also cause this but pay attention to your gas mileage. If it is consistently dropping, take your vehicle to a qualified mechanic and have the team inspect your catalytic converter.

Continued problems can lead to a sluggish engine, engine damage, and engine failure. You’ll have a lot more on your hands than just paying for a new catalytic converter then. Addressing the concerns right away could save you a lot of stress and money. Even if you’re lucky enough to avoid major engine problems, you can’t legally drive a vehicle with a bad catalytic converter in many states. In order to register your car, most states require an emissions or smog test. Your car will fail this test if the catalytic converter is not in good shape.

Cleaning it Out

If you’re not in a financial position to pay for repairs or a replacement, you can look for catalytic converter cleaning products. Some fuel additives may help clean the part and improve its efficiency. However, mechanics do not recommend this as a long-term solution. It may work for a time, but eventually, you’ll need a new part.

Maintenance Tips

Eventually, you’ll have to replace your catalytic converter, but you can lengthen its lifespan with some simple actions. First, avoid using silicone sealants in the exhaust system. Also, have a mechanic periodically inspect your exhaust system, including the catalytic converter. You may be able to identify problems before they get too bad.

Like any part or system on your vehicle, conscientious care is critical. You can keep your vehicle running smoothly when the catalytic converter is working well. Plus, you’ll do your job to keep the environment clean and pass emissions testing. As soon as you start seeing and hearing signs of trouble with this part of your vehicle, take it to a competent mechanic and have this professional check it out. The faster you address these issues, the more likely you are to spare your vehicle from additional damage.

Advice, how-to guides, and car care information featured on and AutoZone Advice & How-To’s are presented as helpful resources for general maintenance and automotive repairs from a general perspective only and should be used at your own risk. Information is accurate and true to the best of AutoZone’s knowledge, however, there may be omissions, errors or mistakes.

Be sure to consult your owner’s manual, a repair guide, an AutoZoner at a store near you, or a licensed, professional mechanic for vehicle-specific repair information. Refer to the service manual for specific diagnostic, repair and tool information for your particular vehicle. Always chock your wheels prior to lifting a vehicle. Always disconnect the negative battery cable before servicing an electrical application on the vehicle to protect its electrical circuits in the event that a wire is accidentally pierced or grounded. Use caution when working with automotive batteries. Sulfuric acid is caustic and can burn clothing and skin or cause blindness. Always wear gloves and safety glasses and other personal protection equipment, and work in a well-ventilated area. Should electrolyte get on your body or clothing, neutralize it immediately with a solution of baking soda and water. Do not wear ties or loose clothing when working on your vehicle.

FREE Loan-A-Tool® program requires returnable deposit. Please note that the tool that you receive after placing an online order may be in a used but operable condition due to the nature of the Loan-A-Tool® program.

Related Posts