How Much Does It Cost To Replace a Catalytic Converter?

Your catalytic converter is a vital — and costly — part of your car's mechanics. Replacing it will take a hefty chunk out of your wallet. How hefty? WeBuyJunkCarsFast explains.

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mechanic working on a catalytic converter

Replacing a catalytic converter can cost anywhere from $945 to $2,400, depending on the car’s make, model, and year. There is no one-size-fits-all catalytic converter. The right one for your vehicle depends on many factors.

If you have a broken catalytic converter, you may opt to have the component repaired instead of replaced. A licensed mechanic can diagnose the issue and give you an estimate.

How Much Does a Catalytic Converter Cost to Replace?

When you replace a catalytic converter, you’re doing more than paying for the individual part; you’re also paying for a technician to install it. Catalytic converters for modern cars alone cost hundreds of dollars. However, if you’re looking to get a catalytic converter for an exotic sports car (for instance), those can easily cost more than $1,000.

Here are some other costs to consider:

  • The mechanic’s labor. Some mechanics charge flat fees for installing catalytic converters. Others charge hourly rates.

  • Fixing problems that lead to the component’s failure. Catalytic converters can last 10 years. If they last less than that, this could point to an underlying problem with the vehicle. For instance, bad spark plugs could affect how the part functions properly. There would be no point in getting a new converter, just to have it break down again after installation.

Kelly Blue Book (KBB) reports that most car owners keep new vehicles for about six years. If a catalytic converter lasts 10 years, then you should only have to replace this component once throughout your ownership. As noted, frequent breakdowns can indicate other issues.

How Much Does It Cost to Replace a Stolen Catalytic Converter?

Car thieves steal more than radios and tires; they also steal catalytic converters. It generally costs just as much to replace a stolen catalytic converter as it is a new one.

However, you could find yourself paying more if insurance doesn’t cover your losses––or the thief did other damage to your car.

What Does a Catalytic Converter Do?

A catalytic converter takes harmful emissions that a car produces and makes them safe for release. A catalytic converter has two pipes: one that takes in gas, the other that pushes gas out.

You don’t need a catalytic converter to operate your vehicle. It will not lead to the breakdown of your vehicle.

Yet, the Clean Air Act of 1963 requires car owners to have these components installed. That’s at the federal level.

At the state level, each state requires cars to meet a certain emissions threshold to be considered roadworthy. Not having a catalytic converter (or exceeding your state’s emission restriction) could lead to hefty fines.

Why Are Catalytic Converters Stolen So Frequently?

We just said that you don’t need a catalytic converter to operate your vehicle. But then, why are they stolen all the time?

Catalytic converters are made out of precious metals that fetch a nice price on the black market. For instance, catalytic converters are made of a metal called rhodium. It’s more expensive than gold, going for about $20,000 per ounce.

A thief doesn’t need specialized tools or knowledge to remove one of these components, either. An experienced thief can have the part removed in a matter of minutes.

How To Protect Yourself From Catalytic Converter Theft

There are a few ways you can prevent your catalytic converter from being stolen:

  • Park your car indoors or in a garage as often as possible, ideally behind a gate.

  • Have your catalytic converter etched with your information — making it easier to identify and harder to sell.

  • Install an anti-theft shield which "covers" your converter, adding an extra barrier that could deter thieves looking for easy targets.

  • Install a dash camera in your car that could record potential thieves — and make sure it's visible.

  • Park in well-lit areas with camera coverage, where thieves are less likely to strike.

How Often Are Catalytic Converters Stolen?

woman shocked at cost of replacing catalytic converter

The National Insurance Crime Bureau reports that catalytic converter theft skyrocketed during the pandemic––a 325 percent increase from the previous year.

That year, 14,433 claimants reported having these components stolen. Research attributes the increase in thefts as a result of job loss during the pandemic, along with other economic difficulties.

How Would I Know if My Catalytic Converter Was Stolen?

Your car’s catalytic converter is located under your car. So, when you put the keys in the ignition, you won’t immediately notice that it’s gone. Once you hit the gas pedal, however, you’ll immediately notice.

Signs of a stolen catalytic converter include:

  • A loud roar from the tailpipe when you accelerate

  • Clouds of black or grey smoke coming from the tailpipe

  • Nuts, bolts, and screws under the vehicle

  • Sputtering acceleration when you press the gas pedal

If you get under your car and notice a square-shaped hole, chances are, someone made off with your catalytic converter. To get confirmation, you should take your car to a mechanic.

Sell a Car Without a Catalytic Converter

If you're missing your catalytic converter and can't justify paying more for your car, you still have plenty of options for where to sell. The best place to go is somewhere that buyers know what to do with a car missing a catalytic converter... a buyer like WeBuyJunkCarsFast.

At WeBuyJunkCarsFast, we specialize in cars with problems, including cars missing their catalytic converters. We can help you get an offer fast and get paid even faster. The process is simple:

  1. Get your quote and accept our offer.

  2. Schedule your pickup and payment.

  3. Hand over the keys and collect your check!

We can pick up a vehicle in as little as 24-48 business hours after you accept the offer and you'll get your check on the spot. Plus, we have a top-notch customer service team ready to answer any of your questions and walk you through the entire process.

Why Is It So Expensive to Replace a Catalytic Converter?

Catalytic converters are made of expensive metals. The cost of buying this part alone can be staggering. Unless you’re a do-it-yourselfer, you’ll also have to pay for a mechanic’s time and efforts. Even then, if you can replace it yourself, there’s no way of knowing that it meets your state’s emissions limits.

Many insurance policies cover the cost of stolen catalytic converters. If you can’t afford the cost of a new part, filing an insurance claim could offer the coverage you need. You may also find a mechanic who cuts costs by installing used catalytic converters, rather than fresh-out-of-the-box ones.

What Happens if I Don’t Replace My Catalytic Converter?

If you don’t replace your catalytic converter:

  • You could face fines. The state might not register your car if you don’t have a catalytic converter. It may also fine you. These fines can hurt your financial stability.

  • Your car could hurt the environment.Catalytic converters prevent dangerous chemicals from polluting the air. Without one, you decrease the air’s breathability in your community.

  • Your car could suffer long-term damage. Not having a catalytic converter could permanently damage your car’s engine. This could eventually make your car undrivable or even unsafe.

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