How Much!? Replacing A Catalytic Converter

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Here is a guest post from Reese Goodwin who found she needed to change her Catalytic Converter and How To Replace a Catalytic Converter. This documents her little journey to find out what a Catalytic Converter cost to have a professional change it, how much is was to buy herself and how to go about getting it done. We also share a how to change the Catalytic Converter video.

Ever been in the struggle of not being able to pass your car inspection because the check engine light was on?It’s the most frustrating thing about owning a vehicle.

Well:

I was in this position a few months ago. And I must say my experience dealing with this problem taught me a lot.

It had been almost a week since my inspection sticker had expired and I knew in the back of my head, I needed to get it renewed as fast as possible.

I guess you can say, I had been “riding dirty” in the streets of NYC. On a Saturday afternoon –usually the worst day ever to go get your car serviced since almost everyone is off – I took my Acura RSX to get checked by the Acura car dealership.

Now:

I already knew that car dealerships usually overcharge for the most simple car repairs or maintenance checks, but I figured my 2002 Acura RSX was old enough that it needed expert analysis and I needed an expert opinion.

“Who could provide that better than the actual car dealer itself, right?”

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After about a two hour wait, I was finally told that my car had a series of issues! I was given a list of problems from needing new brake lights to whatever.

However, the most important issue on the list was catalytic converter failure, which was sure to not allow my car to pass inspection.

When I read the list and listened to the car salesman tell me that the catalytic converter went bad on my car, I couldn’t help but feel the overwhelming sense of confusion. I had no idea of what a catalytic converter was but:

I heard the salesman say and point out to me that it would take $1,600 to fix!

I immediately felt overwhelmed and wanted to cry. I knew I didn’t even have half of that amount to get my vehicle fixed and pass inspection at the time.

As I walked out of the Acura dealership, the salesman said, “Feel free to let me know if you have any further questions and want to schedule to get your car fixed” but in my mind, I knew I needed to think of an alternative plan.

I immediately jumped in my car, pulled out my iPhone and began researching.

First, I needed to know what a catalytic converter was and its impact on my car.

Secondly, I knew I needed to find out, not only which converters were the best for my vehicle, but which ones were the most AFFORDABLE options. Here’s what I learned:

How Catalytic Converters Work

In order to reduce car pollution efficiently, automakers came up with the catalytic converter in the 1970’s.

The role of the catalytic converter is to transfer harmful pollutants in the car engine system into less harmful emissions before they leave the car’s exhaust system.

Although the device is simple, it has a huge impact on how a vehicle may operates.  The device refines car engines and helps maintain the fuel system by converting hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, and nitrogen oxides into harmless compounds.

As a comparison, a catalytic converter is similar to an enzyme in the human body. It is responsible for catalyzing or causing a chemical reaction but not actually being effected by that reaction itself.

For cars, catalytic converters are responsible for removing pollution from the engine system and converting it into less harmful emissions.

In my case, the catalytic converter in my Acura RSX was eroding and did not properly convert harmful pollutants thus, allowing the car to have increased emissions within its exhaust system.

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How to Deal with Having to Replace a Catalytic Converter

Based on my experience and research, here are a few points to summarize how to deal with replacing a catalytic converter.

  1. Be sure to get your vehicle evaluated first. In this day in age, cars now have diagnostic features within them that monitor catalyst operation and set catalyst related codes when a fault is detected. The most common codes are P0420 or P0430, which translates that the converter on bank #1 or #2 has failed. When I took my vehicle to the Acura dealer, code P0420 is what appeared on my car but for some it may be code P0430.
  2. Before or immediately after replacing the old converter, it is a good idea to figure out why the original converter failed. There is not a universal cause, but typically a failure in the fuel management systems is to blame. Some cars have a history of converter problems due to design defects or faulty programming, others are the result of poor maintenance, and some can be caused by physical damage. Despite what the cause may be, if it is not corrected, the problem may return. For me, simple erosion (physical damage) of the converter was the leading cause for my catalytic converter to need to be replaced.
  3. Take measures to fix the cause of the failed catalytic converter. Sometimes you may have time to really look into the cause of the converter problem and take measures before replacing your converter. A common way to approach this and address some of the issues causing the converter problem is to do a full tune up. This helps ensure that the cause was a fuel management issue and that the converter part will be replaced as part of a tune up maintenance package. However, keep in mind that the definition of tune-up may vary.
    A good tune-up will typically consist of new spark plugs and spark plug wires, new air filter, new fuel filter, and oil change. It is also recommend to replace all upstream O2 sensors, especially those that were on the same bank as the failed converter. The reason for this is that the O2 sensors can become contaminated, but may not always trigger O2 sensor related codes. Since the sensor is a critical part of the fuel management, if it fails, it can result in poor combustion, which can cause the converter to fail. Other recommended procedures include, fuel system service, intake cleaning service, and combustion chamber cleaning. Once the fuel management issues have been resolved, you must find the correct converter. (Source: ebay)

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How To Replace a Catalytic Converter Video!

Best Replacement Catalytic Converters

There are vast differences in the quality and performance of different catalytic converter brands.

In my research and through speaking to Auto enthusiast, I learned that the most expensive converters are not necessarily better because of their price.

Also:

Something to note when looking for a catalytic converter replacement– some of them are labeled 49 state and some are labeled California approved or 50 state. The 49 state just means that the converter has not been approved by the California Air Resource Board but doesn’t mean its not good quality.

A good brand 49 state converter swill still be fine. The California approved or 50 state means that it is approved in all states and these are a little more expensive. This information is important to look into further if you reside in California.

Choosing a converter depends on your car but based on my research on catalytic converter replacements,  Magnaflow, Flowmaster, Walker and Eastern Catalytic are recognized brands.

It is usually suggested to go with a brand that has warranties when products are purchased. You should also make sure that the converter is a direct fit so it is easier when installing it.

Here are some of the industry converters I found to be great options for converter replacements:

Magnaflow 23226 Direct Fit Catalytic Converter

 

MagnaFlow makes a host of catalytic converters with superior quality. Magnaflow uses heavier gauge stainless steel and 1/2″ lap welded joints where necks meet the body of the car.  Necks that do not extend into the body of the converter can hamper exhaust flow. Simply put, Magnoflow makes the strongest and smoothest flowing converter in the market today. All Magnaflow converters are high flow. This converter is designed for easy bolt-on installation, features a ribbed design, a funneled inlet and outlet, and consists of stainless steel body and heat shield. The good thing about this converter is that it requires no cutting or bending and makes for easy assembly.


 

Magnaflow 99006HM Universal Catalytic Converter

The main benefit of universal catalytic converters is that one unit may cover a wide variety of vehicle makes and models. Installing a universal converter in your vehicle often requires the use of welding, cutting, and tube-bending equipment that is readily available to most professional installers.

This universal catalytic converter includes a ribbed body that minimizes expansion and distortion when the converter heats up. The ribs form a channel that protects the cushioning mat from direct exposure to exhaust gasses, and hold the ceramic catalyst in proper alignment. It’s aluminized ribbed heat shield creates a rigid wall of protection against heat and adds to the structural stability of the converter.

It also includes a 1/2 in. lap joint where the necks meet the body. The neck does not extend into the converter body, where it could hamper exhaust flow. This model is seam-welded close to the converter body for a strong, tight bond. Welding along the edge could allow the converter to expand like the folds in an accordion, allowing the catalyst to move around.


Flowmaster Universal Catalytic Converters 2230125

This converter is excellent in price and universal as well. Flowmaster universal catalytic converters are made from high-quality stainless steel and feature a slip fit design for easy installation. Their universal design allows them to be used with virtually any exhaust system. This converter is known to provide excellent flow, keep check engine lights off, and helps engines runs cooler. Whether you’re building a custom exhaust or just need a replacement, this Flowmaster universal catalytic converter is just what you need.


In Summary…

Dealing with a catalytic converter problem seems highly overwhelming at first. However, once you do a little research you’ll figure out that it isn’t so daunting at all.

These products can costs hundreds of dollars to replace depending on your vehicle and where you go to get it fixed, but if you do some good research, you’ll find ways to save costs and still get reasonable priced converters that will do the job. Consider going to auto websites such as AutoAnything.com

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