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How Much does a Catalytic Converter Replacement Cost?
Your car’s emissions system is designed to make your gas-powered car as environmentally friendly as possible, and the catalytic converter is the cornerstone of the system.
In cars that aren’t working properly, the catalytic converter can become plugged or contaminated and needs to be replaced when it is no longer efficient at its role.
Most catalytic converters will last indefinitely when a car is running properly, but can quickly fail when there are fueling problems.
The average cost to replace your catalytic converter is approximately $1,275, but can range anywhere from just $300 to $3,000, depending on the make and model you drive.
Some vehicles have more than one catalytic converter, and typically the pre-catalytic converter is subject to failure first.
Catalytic Converter Replacement
What is a Catalytic Converter?
Cars with emissions control systems since the early 1980s have been equipped with a catalytic converter.
Located in the exhaust pipe after the exhaust manifold and before the muffler, its purpose is to convert unburned hydrocarbons in the exhaust gases into harmless elements before they enter the environment.
On many cars, there is one pre-catalytic converter at the exhaust manifold and the main catalytic converter in the exhaust pipe.
The catalytic converters shell is made of steel much like a muffler, but inside it’s much different.
Catalyst materials that coat a ceramic honeycomb-like structure react with harmful gases such as nitrogen oxide and carbon monoxide.
After reacting with catalyst materials that coat the honeycomb, the exhaust gases pass harmlessly into the environment.
When an engine isn’t running properly and high levels of pollutants or unburned fuel are in the exhaust gas, the catalytic converter can’t keep up.
High heat levels result that damage the honeycomb, or the catalysts can become poisoned by substances that render them ineffective. When that happens, the catalytic converter must be replaced.
Symptoms You Require Catalytic Converter Replacement
- The Check Engine light is illuminated
- There’s a rich fuel smell from your exhaust
- The engine runs rough due to backpressure from plugged exhaust
- Poor acceleration and idle
How is the Catalytic Converter Replaced?
- The technician confirms the condition through computer diagnostics
- The car is raised on a lift
- The exhaust pipe is accessed and the catalytic converter is removed. It may be either clamped or bolted in place, or welded into the exhaust pipe, depending on vehicle design
- A new catalytic converter is fitted and secured in place
- The vehicle is lowered and the engine run up to temperature
- The Check Engine light codes are cleared and the technician confirms the repair with a road test
Tips to Remember
- Often, catalytic converter failure indicates an over-fueling condition, an ignition issue or contaminated fuel that also requires repair.
- The catalytic converter should always be replaced with a high-quality component to prevent premature failure in the future.
How Important is Replacing Your Catalytic Converter?
Having the catalytic converter replaced when it’s no longer functioning correctly will clear the Check Engine light, allowing you to know if any other problems occur.
If you drive while your catalytic converter isn’t operating efficiently, you run the risk of additional problems. That can include engine and exhaust leaks, burnt-out oxygen sensors, or even internal engine problems.
If you’ve read this far, you obviously care about your car. A lot. So next time you need a service, repair or inspection, visit AutoGuru.com.au.
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