Catalytic Converter Replacement Issue

Catalytic converter replacement is something that every car owner must do sooner or later. Attached to the exhaust system, the catalytic converter turns noxious gassed into less harmful gases and water vapor. Replacing a failed converter isn't difficult, but parts can be expensive.

Catalytic Converter Replacement Issues

A catalytic converter consists of a stainless steel housing with a ceramic fixture inside. The ceramic fixture is contains platinum, palladium and rhodium. These precious metals rival gold for price per ounce, adding significantly to the cost of the unit. Here are some issues to consider when pricing replacement catalytic converters:

  • Is it covered? By federal law, catalytic converters may not be replaced before a car has reached 50,000 miles unless the unit is damaged. This law was enacted to minimize emissions system tampering. Most manufacturers warranty emissions components for 50,000 miles, so if your car has fewer miles, replacement should be covered.
  • Basic cost. Unlike most repairs, the parts themselves count for most of the cost of catalytic converter replacement. Aftermarket units will generally be cheaper than those sold by the dealer, so shop around. Unfortunately, you won't save a ton of money in labor costs by doing the job yourself.
  • Save yourself a headache. If your car has had exhaust repairs in the past, the shop may have welded some parts in place. If this was the case, you'll be better off letting a professional mechanic handle the replacement.
  • Older is better. Catalytic converters have been used in the US since the mid 1970s. As the technology has matured, converter units have become more sophisticated-and expensive. Generally, the older your vehicle, the less you'll pay less for a replacement converter.
  • Precious cargo. The rising cost of the metals used to fabricate catalytic converters has prompted a rise the theft of these units. With their high ground clearance, and easy access, SUVs have become the target of choice for catalytic converter thieves. If you have the space, keep your vehicle in a garage. Otherwise, you may consider an alarm system or a converter "lock" similar the CatClamp.
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