Catalytic Converter Replacement: 6 Things You Need To Know About It


The internal combustion engines (ICE) of the vehicle is the part where ignition and combustion of fuel takes place. The ICE is designed and engineered to release energy from the mixture of air and fuel. Consequently, the combustion within ICE is known to release hazardous gases into the air, thereby posing environmental risk in form of air pollution.  Because of this, the catalytic converter, also known as cat converter or cat, is installed in the exhaust of cars. This gadget is responsible for reducing pollutants and harmful gasses into less dangerous gasses that are released from the tailpipe. 

Therefore, the catalytic converter is integral for the smooth operation of your car. If you’re experiencing any issues with this device, you need to consider a few important things before finding out the costs of replacing a catalytic converter

Is a Vehicle with a Faulty Catalytic Converter Drivable?  

The extent to which the catalytic converter is destroyed determines whether your car is safe to drive. If this gadget is partially clogged, it might still be possible to operate your car, although there’ll be a noticeable drop in gas mileage. However, if the catalytic converter is entirely destroyed, you won’t be able to operate your car, until you find a replacement. 

What Are the Signs of a Destroyed Catalytic Converter?     

There are several things that nationwide car buyers need to examine and know if the catalytic converter is either wholly or partially destroyed. These may include the following factors: 

  • Poor Acceleration 

Are you experiencing trouble while pushing the accelerator? If your car is acting up in this manner, there’s a high chance that your catalytic converter is partially clogged, thereby causing the vehicle’s engine not to produce adequate power. Catalytic converters usually get destroyed due to the melting of the internal parts as the unburned fuel generates excessive heat or too much carbon accumulation in the honeycomb design. 

The best way to resolve this issue is to ensure your engine is operating at its full potential, even when towing a bulky load or going up a hill. This can be achieved by getting rid of the blockages using a reliable catalytic converter cleaner.   

  • Check Engine Light

Integrated into the exhaust are air-fuel and oxygen ratio sensors that monitor the gas levels, hence capable to gauge the effectiveness of the catalytic converter. The check engine light will be set off, should these sensors notice the catalytic converter isn’t working correctly. 

  • Exhaust Producing a Rotten Egg Smell 

Contained in gasoline are small traces of sulfur, which is converted to hydrogen sulfide during the combustion process. Consequently, the catalytic converter is then tasked with the conversion of the foul-smelling hydrogen sulfide to the odorless sulfur oxide. However, if you detect the pungent smell of hydrogen sulfide, there’s a high chance that the catalytic converter of your car has been damaged. 

  • Failed Emission Test 

The catalytic converter’s role is to ensure that the emissions from your car are less toxic and not too hazardous to the environment. If your car’s engine is running but it’s releasing harmful emissions, then there’s a high probability it is defective. Keeping this into consideration, many states of America have made emissions testing mandatory for all the vehicle owners. 

  • Rattling Noises 

Located inside of catalytic converters are coated honeycombs, that sometimes get destroyed due to too much rich fuel mixtures. Consequently, it leads to the production of rattling noises, which gets more severe as you start the vehicle. 

What Is the Cost of Replacing a Catalytic Converter? 


The replacement of a catalytic converter can be quite pricey as these gadgets are made from metal. In most cases, the average replacement cost ranges between USD$300 to USD$3000. This cost usually depends on several aspects, including the make, year of manufacture, and car model. It varies depending on whether the catalytic converter is an aftermarket or Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) part and the number of cats needed in your vehicle. 

What Causes the Catalytic Converter to Fail?  

The parts of a car are usually interconnected, meaning the failure of one might affect the functioning of other components as well. However, for this case, let’s assume that every other part of your vehicle functions properly. 

On average, the lifespan of a cat is between 10 to 15 years, which is quite surprising considering this gadget doesn’t consist of any moving components. Therefore, if you keep using your vehicle for more than ten years, chances of the catalytic converter getting destroyed are much higher. However, there are also other reasons why the cat gets damaged including; 

  • Unburned fuel finding its way into the exhaust. 
  • Oxygen sensors failing to run properly. 
  • Antifreeze moving into the exhaust. 
  • Defective wires or spark plugs. 
  • Oil finding its way into the exhaust. 

Is Replacing the Catalytic Converter Worth It?   

The catalytic converter is an essential part of your vehicle, so you shouldn’t operate your car if it isn’t working correctly. However, replacing the cat is quite substantial; so, investing in a good-quality catalytic converter will save your fuel and money in the long run. Nonetheless, if your car is of unique model and its catalytic converter is destroyed, you should rather sell the car for scrap than spend significant amount of money on its repair or replacement. 

Can the Catalytic Converter Be Repaired? 

Again, the extent of damage to the catalytic converter determines whether this device can be repaired. If it’s a simple clog or dirt on the cat, you can use a catalytic converter cleaner to get rid of the clogging. You can also opt for the more practical option of taking out the catalytic converter and dipping it in a citric acid solution for six to eight hours. 

Nonetheless, if the catalytic converter is damaged to the extent that pieces of the honeycomb can be seen inside, it isn’t worth the hassle trying to repair it. 


A catalytic converter is a vital gadget that needs to function optimally, to ensure your car runs smoothly. However, the cat may sometimes get either partially or entirely destroyed, so you must keep a close eye on its maintenance and repair.

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