Should You Be Driving With A Bad Catalytic Converter?

Is it a good idea to drive with a bad catalytic converter? WeBuyJunkCarsFast can help. Get the run-down of what your catcon is for, and what your options are when it goes bad.

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If you’ve noticed that your exhaust is emitting dark smoke, your car has become louder, or your fuel efficiency has decreased, you may have a bad catalytic converter on your hands. Although this part does not serve a primary mechanical role like your engine and transmission do, it still has a crucial role to play.

Ahead, WeBuyJunkCarsFast describes what the catalytic converter does and what you should do if yours is damaged.

What Is A Catalytic Converter?

All modern gas-operated cars are equipped with a catalytic converter. These cylindrical metal chambers reside about a third of the way down the exhaust system. Through a series of pipes, it connects the exhaust manifold on the front end and the muffler unit at the back end.

But what does a catalytic converter do? The main job of the catalytic converter is to convert toxic emissions generated in the engine into less harmful gasses to be released through the tailpipe.

The catalytic converter is able to transform noxious gasses like carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, and nitrogen oxides into safe emissions (nitrogen gas, water vapor, and carbon dioxide) through a series of chemical reactions powered by materials called catalysts—hence the name, catalytic converter.

drive a car with a bad catalytic converter

Symptoms Of A Bad Catalytic Converter

Because the catalytic converter comes in contact with hot, toxic gasses during every drive, it eventually wears out and goes bad. However, this part is built to last up to 200,000 miles with regular maintenance and care.

Other issues can arise, though, before you hit the 200,00 miles-mark. We discuss those in the next section. Below, you can see symptoms of a bad catalytic converter, whether it’s wearing out or something else is going on:

  • Dark exhaust smoke

  • A smell of sulfur or burning eggs

  • Rattling sounds

If your cat converter has been acting up for a while, then you might experience more serious symptoms like:

  • Poor engine performance

  • Failed emissions test

  • Issues starting

  • Engine misfiring

  • Check engine light

It’s important to get these issues looked at as soon as you notice they are happening constantly to avoid further damage.

What Causes Catalytic Converters To Fail?

With consistent vehicle care and maintenance, your catalytic converter will likely last until it wears out. However, other parts can wear out before the cat converter and the damage can have an effect on the converter.

Here are some of those potential causes:

  • Coolants leaks

  • Oil leaks in the engine

  • Unburned fuel

  • Overheating

  • Hitting debris on the road

  • Faulty oxygen sensor

Can You Drive With A Bad Catalytic Converter?

can you drive car with bad catcon

Because a catalytic converter isn’t responsible for motion or energy production, you can technically keep driving even if yours is damaged. However, it is not recommended, and, in some states, it is illegal to drive with a malfunctioning catalytic converter.

Driving with a bad catalytic converter comes with the following risks:

  • Increased emissions and potentially failing your state emissions test

  • Decreased engine performance

  • Engine overheating

  • Noise pollution

What Can You Do About A Bad Catalytic Converter?

If you have a bad catalytic converter, the only solution is to get a catalytic converter replacement. That is because catalytic converter repair is not possible due to the toxic metals inside. These metals are dangerous to work with, so the only solution is a replacement.

However, if your cat converter is damaged due to an issue in the engine or other components, then repairs will also be needed.

Catalytic Converter Repair Costs

The cost of a catalytic converter replacement ranges between $400 and $3,000 for the part alone, depending on the year, make, and model of your car. Labor, on the other hand, costs about $60 to $130 per hour.

On top of the catalytic converter price, you may have to pay for the following additional repairs:

  • Oxygen sensor replacement: $115 - $590

  • Exhaust pipes repair: $50 - $400

  • Coolant leak repair: $100 - $800

How Much Is A Catalytic Converter Worth?

As we mentioned above, a catalytic converter part is worth anything from several hundred to several thousand dollars, depending on the exact model. Because of the precious catalytic metals found inside, this part is seen as quite valuable to thieves.

Catalytic Converter Theft

Unfortunately, catalytic converter theft is common. That’s because of how valuable the materials inside are. The catalysts inside the converter include platinum, rhodium, and palladium which have high scrap prices. As a result, scrap catalytic converter prices can be high.

Here’s how much the precious metals inside the cat converter are worth:

  • Platinum: $884 per ounce

  • Palladium: $2,040 per ounce

  • Rhodium: $12,850 per ounce

While the average catalytic converter price is around $1,000, the materials are potentially worth much more if enough is collected. This is why cat converter theft is common.

Who Buys Cars With Bad Catalytic Converters?

If the cost to replace a catalytic converter is outside of your budget, WeBuyJunkCarsFast can help! We buy cars that are damaged, totaled, and missing parts, even if the missing part is a catalytic converter.

You can get a great deal for your car with a bad or missing catalytic converter like this:

  1. Get an offer! First step is to fill out our online form with details about your car. In most cases, we’ll produce a no-obligation offer for you in as little as 90 seconds.

  2. Schedule the pickup! If you like our offer, we can help you schedule your pickup at a time that works for you. We can even pick it up in as little as 24 hours!

  3. Get paid! The final step is to wait for the driver to arrive with payment in hand. Turn over the keys and the title, and collect your check — it’s that simple.

There’s no hassle or haggling; we just want to give you the best rate for your vehicle. Try out our calculator today and discover how much your car is worth even with a damaged catalytic converter!

Do All Cars Have A Catalytic Converter?

Catalytic converters became a standard in car manufacturing in 1975. So, if your model was made after the 1970s, then it has a catalytic converter. However, electric cars do not have a catalytic converter as they do not have an engine that produces harmful gasses.

What’s Inside A Catalytic Converter?

The inside of a catalytic converter has a honeycomb or beaded shape with a coating of the catalytic metals: platinum, rhodium, and palladium. Other metals like tungsten, lead, copper, and nickel can also be found inside.

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