Catalytic‌ ‌Converter‌ ‌Repair‌ ‌&‌ ‌Replacement‌ ‌Costs:‌ ‌Detailed‌ ‌ Estimation‌

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Edgar Moulton.

05.07.2021

Edgar Moulton. Car Expert

Table of contents

A damaged catalytic converter can cost you a lot of money. We’re going to discuss whether you should repair or replace it, some signs you may have a damaged converter, and help you decide if you should keep the car or sell it for scrap.

How Much Does A Catalytic Converter Replacement Cost?

Before getting into the cost of a catalytic converter replacement, let’s talk about what your catalytic converter does. Your catalytic converter is part of your car’s exhaust system that reduces the amount of harmful gasses released into the environment. Catalytic converters are part of your exhaust system that is responsible for lowering harmful exhaust fumes from the engine. Its insides are honeycomb lined with precious metals like platinum and palladium, responsible for the chemical reaction that turns dangerous exhaust fumes — like nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, and hydrocarbons — into a more safe and environmentally friendly carbon dioxide and water vapor. 

Because the chemicals required to create this chemical reaction are all precious metals, the catalytic converter replacement cost can be very high. If your car were made before 1981, your cost of replacing a catalytic converter would be cheaper than in a car built after 1981. This was because, before 1981, car manufacturers only used “two-way” converters, whereas, after 1981, they began to use “three-way” converters that use these expensive precious metals. 

This means that the catalytic converter parts by themselves will run you between $350 and $1500. When you add the labor costs, those prices rise to between $615 and $2200. 

A new catalytic converter will cost you quite a bit of your money, as you can see. So how much is a catalytic converter for your car? Read on to get a better idea.  

Average New Catalytic Converter Costs For Popular American Cars 

We did market research all across the USA and found the average cost to replace a catalytic converter on some of America’s most popular car models. Of course, these are just averages, but it will give you a better look at the small cost of disassemble/installation labor compared to the high price of parts and hopefully give you a more accurate idea of a catalytic converter replacement price.

Model

Labor

Parts

Total

Ford F-Series

$181 – $231

$726 – $2029

$907 – $2260

Chevrolet Silverado

$71 – $90

$519 – $926

$590 – $1016

Ford Focus

$102 – $131

$513 – $1361

$615 – $1492

Toyota Camry

$102 – $131

$874 – $1301

$976 – $1432

Toyota Corolla

$63 – $80

$605 – $1416

$668 – $1496

Nissan Altima

$150 – $191

$492 – $963

$642 – $1154

Honda CR-V

$126 – $161

$413 – $819

$539 – $980

Honda Civic

$63 – $80

$495 – $1529

$558 – $1609

Honda Accord

$79 – $100

$341 – $763

$420 – $863

Ford Fusion

$102 – $131

$513 – $1361

$615 – $1492

Should You Repair Or Replace Your Catalytic Converter

Depending on the severity of the dysfunction in your catalytic converter, you may be able to save some money on a catalytic converter repair cost. Sometimes your catalytic converter may just be clogged with the hydrocarbons it was supposed to get rid of in the first place. There are a few ways you might try to fix it on your own before trying to replace it.

The “Italian Tune-Up”

The “Italian tune-up” is a term used to describe when someone takes their car for a drive and floors the throttle. This may sound like a joke to you (and in many cases, it is), but it actually has some merit when it comes to your catalytic converter. 

The catalytic converter needs to operate between 800 and 1800 degrees F (426-100 degrees Celsius) for the necessary chemical reaction to occur. Because many cars are used around town at slow speeds, the catalytic converter may not reach these temperatures. The “Italian tune-up” allows your car’s engine to operate at high enough RPMs that the temperature in the catalytic converter reaches a high enough temperature, and thus allowing it to have that chemical reaction. It’s not a sure thing that it will solve the issue, but it might.

NOTE: It goes without saying to drive responsibly at all times. Do not use the “Italian tune-up” as permission to go out and drive in an unsafe manner.

Fuel cleaners/additives

If you’ve ever noticed when you go to fill up your car with gas, some gas stations will offer a more expensive “premium” option. Yes, these fuels have a higher octane than “regular” fuels, but they often contain fuel additives that help clean your engine as it runs. These additives often work. One option you have is to pay the extra money and use this more expensive fuel for a few fill-ups and let your engine run with the additives going through.

The other option is to buy a bottle of fuel additive/cleaner at the gas station and add it to your gas tank. Sometimes, this will help clear out enough of the hydrocarbons that your catalytic converter goes back to working normally.

Clean it out manually

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Some people say the only way to clean a converter properly is by removing it and soaking it in water and detergent overnight. Soaking allows the water and soap to get inside, where all the residual hydrocarbons are, to dissolve them as it sits in the soapy water. 

The issue with this, however, is that it requires the removal of the converter. This process doesn’t take too long, but it requires specialized tools that most people don’t have. Some mechanics will tell you that because it’s already removed, it’s worth opening up and cleaning, then rebuilding the catalytic converter and reattaching it to the exhaust system. Of course, this will cost money at the mechanic, and unless you know how to repair a catalytic converter, that will cost you money too.

Before you pay the price of a catalytic converter replacement, it might be worth trying these simple repairing efforts, but they are no guarantee whatsoever. The question “Can a catalytic converter be repaired?” remains unanswered and, as always, is on a case-by-case basis depending on the vehicle. 

6 Signs Your Catalytic Converter Has Problems

How would you know when to replace your catalytic converter? If you have issues with your catalytic converter, you may notice a few things wrong with your car. Here are some of the most common things you’ll see.

  1. A sulfur smell. One of the gasses released in the combustion process is hydrogen sulfide (which smells like sulfur or rotten eggs). It’s the catalytic converter’s job to change the hydrogen sulfide into carbon dioxide before it’s released into the air. If that doesn’t happen, you’ll smell it being released from the exhaust. So if you smell rotten eggs while your car is running and stopped with the windows down, you may be having issues with your catalytic converter.
  2. The “check engine” light is on. Modern vehicles have oxygen sensors that monitor the efficiency of the catalytic converter. If the converter isn’t working, these sensors will detect excess fumes in the exhaust and will relay that to your engine's electronic control unit. Then you’ll see your “check engine” light appear on your dashboard. 
  3. Loss of power. When your catalytic converter is clogged, the exhaust gasses cannot flow freely out of the exhaust. This causes a buildup of back pressure, resulting in a loss of power output from the engine. If you notice your car isn’t accelerating as quickly as it should, or you have trouble driving uphill or towing something, it may be from a clogged catalytic converter.
  4. Failed smog test. Because the catalytic converter is meant to reduce the amount of emissions released from your exhaust, a failed smog test — which tests for levels of exhaust gasses — may mean your catalytic converter isn’t doing its job properly. If you fail the smog test, it means your exhaust fume levels are too high, signaling a malfunctioning catalytic converter.
  5. Rattling noises from the exhaust system. The inside of the catalytic converter is made of a metal honeycomb structure to provide as much surface area as possible for the metals to come into contact with the gasses they need to detoxify. Because the metal is so thin, it’s prone to breaking if it becomes too brittle from extreme fluctuations in temperatures or physical damage. When this happens, your converter won’t work properly. If you hear rattling coming from your engine/exhaust while idling (and most loudly upon starting the engine), it may mean a damaged catalytic converter. 
  6. Reduced gas mileage. Much like the loss of power I mentioned above, a car with a clogged/malfunctioning catalytic converter will require more gasoline to burn to create enough power to drive at normal speeds. Reduced gas mileage can result from many issues with the car, but the catalytic converter is one of them, and if you notice you’re not getting as many miles per gallon as you usually do, you should get it looked at. 

How To Fix A Catalytic Converter

Because replacing a catalytic converter costs a lot of money, you might want to look into repairing it yourself before you drop all that cash on replacing it. You may want to try a few things before taking it to a mechanic to be looked at. Like we mentioned above…

  1. The Italian tune-up. Again, the catalytic converter needs to reach high internal temperatures for the chemical reaction to occur. If you normally only drive your car around town at slow speeds, the Italian tune-up may be the thing your car needs. Make sure to drive your car a little harder than usual at least once per week in order to let your converter reach those higher temperatures. Doing so may burn off enough of the hydrocarbon buildup inside your catalytic converter for it to work properly again. It’s a pretty much free way to see if it will help clean your catalytic converter.
  2. Fuel additives. These often contain chemicals meant to cleanse your engine of any unwanted hydrocarbon residue. Adding one of these additives to a full tank of gas might be enough to burn through some of that hydrocarbon buildup on the inside of your catalytic converter. A bottle of fuel additive can be bought at your local gas station for under $20, so it might be worth trying before spending all that money on a converter replacement. Another option is changing the quality of fuel you use. It may be worth trying the more expensive, higher octane gasoline for a full tank or two to run through your engine. 
  3. Cleaning your converter manually. Some people say the best and only way to repair your catalytic converter is to remove it and soak it overnight. Some people recommend using a pressure washer on both ends of the converter, but doing so may damage the internal honeycomb structure if the pressure is too high. The best option is to remove the converter, soak it overnight in hot water and liquid detergent solution and allow the hydrocarbons to dissolve. Although this option will require some DIY handy work, it’s a low-cost potential solution to a dysfunctional catalytic converter that’s worth trying before you pay for a new catalytic converter. 

Junkcarsus is a Reputable Junk Car Buyer Working for 12 Years

If you think you have a catalytic converter that isn’t doing its job properly, it’s time to decide on how to fix it or if it’s worth fixing at all. If you have an old car that’s not worth much money, the cost of a catalytic converter may cost you more than the whole car is worth! If you have an old junk car and your catalytic converter finally fails, it might be the right choice to contact JunkCarsUS and get your top dollar instant offer to change that repair bill into cash in your hands!

At JunkCarsUS, we have been in the car scrapping business for over 12 years and are the number one junk car buyer in the USA. Over the years, our team of experts has simplified the process into three easy steps.

  1. Contact us! Give us a call at (855) 547-1550 or fill out an online application to let us know you’re interested in selling your junk car. If you give us the make, model, year, mileage, and condition of your car, we’ll give you our cash offer on the spot.
  2. Accept our offer! We have a highest price guarantee of any junk car buyer in the USA to ensure you get as much money as possible for your junk car. Once we have given you our offer, we will NEVER go back and try to change it!
  3. Arrange for FREE towing! There are absolutely NO hidden fees when you work with us, which means everything, including towing. Just tell us where the car is located and when is the most convenient time for you to have your car picked up, and one of our trusted tow truck drivers will arrive on time and safely tow it away at no cost to you.

We will take nearly any vehicle in any condition, including ones with broken alternators! No matter how damaged and no matter how many problems with it, we will give you a more than fair price for it! We will even pay you for totaled vehicles or cars even without a title

But what about paperwork?

Our team of experts has been doing this for so long; it’s super easy for us to fill out all the paperwork for you. When you give us the information over the phone, we will fill it all out and give it to the tow truck driver for when he comes to pick up your car. All you have to do is sign on the dotted line, and he’ll hand your cash right over to you.

Give us a call TODAY at (855) 547-1550 and change your worries over a catalytic converter bill into cold hard cash! 

Edgar Moulton.

05.07.2021

Edgar Moulton. Car Expert

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