How Much Does a Catalytic Converter Cost?

Written by: Staff

A catalytic converter is a device in a vehicle that reduces toxicity and exhaust emissions from an internal combustion engine.  This part of the vehicle was introduced in the United States in 1975 to comply with tightening U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulations on auto exhaust emissions.

A failing catalytic converter can often cause a car to fail an emissions test, illuminate the “check engine” light or even result in a loss of engine power.

Catalytic converters are designed to cut down on air pollution, filtering out certain hydrocarbons, and reducing smog issues in congested areas.  They also play a big role when passing or failing a car inspection if a state requires it.

Muffler and Catalytic Converter by noricum, on Flickr
Muffler and Catalytic Converter” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by noricum

How much does a catalytic converter cost?

On average, a catalytic converter can cost anywhere from $700 to $1,750, including the parts and the labor.   Labor costs will usually be in the $150 to $250 range, while the parts, depending on the make and model, can cost $500 to $1,150.

A two-way catalytic converter, which is usually found in gasoline or diesel engines, commonly manufactured before 1980, can cost $100 to $500 or more, depending the year and the make and model of the vehicle.

A three-way catalytic converter, which is typically found in cars after 1980, can often be within the range mentioned above.  Again, this will depend on the car’s year, make and model.

Angie’s List says the repair costs can often be close to $2,000.  This repair can be expensive because of the converter, depending on the type, uses expensive metals such as palladium, rhodium and platinum.

Auto Zone, for example, offers the MagnaFlow Universal catalytic converter for about $95.

CarLabor + Parts Price
Chevy Trailblazer$570 to $850
Dodge Ram$570 to $1,300
Ford Focus$600 to $1,300
Ford Taurus$700 to $1,300
Honda Accord$450 to $880
Honda Civic$550 to $1,400
Honda Odyssey$375 to $900
Hyundai Elantra$400 to $1,000
Jeep Cherokee$750 to $1,400
Nissan Altima$650 to $1,200
Subaru Forester$800 to $1,100
Toyota Camry$900 to $1,500
Toyota Corolla$550 to $1,350
Toyota Prius$1,300 to $1,900
Toyota Sequoia$550 to $1,700
Toyota Sienna$650 to $1,300
Toyota Tacoma$500 to $1,400
Volkswagen Golf$400 to $1,000
Volkswagen Jetta$700 to $1,200

Catalytic converter overview

This part is an emission-related component that’s mounted to the exhaust pipe.  It’s designed to superheat any unburned particles in the exhaust gasses being expelled from the car’s engine. As the engine runs, the catalytic converter will warm up to an appropriate operating temperature of 500 to 1200 degrees Fahrenheit.  At this temperature, the dirty exhaust will be burned and created into a water vapor and carbon dioxide.    If the part isn’t able to burn off the hydrocarbons, an odor may come from the exhaust or the car’s engine may misfire.  The check engine light may illuminate as well.

Most mechanics will tell you an aftermarket part will have to be welded to the exhaust pipe.  This part can be repaired at any dealership, mechanic or muffler shop.

Specialized tools will be required during every step of the process, and because of this, it can be hard for the average DIYer to do the job.  During the repair, a mechanic will take out the old catalytic converter by cutting it out with a power saw.  Once removed, the new part will be welded into place while being careful with the surrounding parts.  When welded in, the new part will be checked for any problems by running the engine for an extended period of time.  During the time, the mechanic will pay close attention to how it’s attached and if the part is doing its job efficiently.

What are the extra costs?

When replacing the catalytic converter, the oxygen sensors may need to be replaced.

Theft is extremely common due to the metal these parts are made of.  Special security measures can be taken such as purchasing an etching kit for $15 to $40 or adding a lock for an additional $75 to $150.

Tips to know:

Catalytic converters have been required in cars since 1975.  The EPA prohibits car owners from installing a converter that doesn’t meet EPA standards or an aftermarket part that hasn’t been labeled or tested.

Signs you need a new catalytic converter

The check engine light is on.  A “check engine” light can come on for a multitude of reasons, but a failing catalytic converter is often the culprit.

There’s little or no power.

A smell similar to rotten eggs is coming from the exhaust.  This smell will be due to the build-up of contaminants not being able to burn up.

Fuel economy isn’t as good as before.  If these contaminants are getting to your engine, it could mean your car will have to burn more gas than before to process the same tasks.

The car engine is misfiring or feeling rough.

How can I save money?

If getting professional help, call a few shops over the phone.  These shops are going to more than likely give you a quote over the phone with what they charge on average.  Some franchise shops or dealerships may offer a special coupon to help you save.

Before replacing it, see if the part is still under warranty.  Under the EPA’s warranty guidelines, all parts must be covered for a minimum of eight years or 80,000 miles, whichever comes first.

Universal parts can often be much cheaper than a direct fit converter; however, a universal part may require cutting out the older part of the exhaust system and welding the new one in.  Also, a universal part may also be illegal in Calfornia as most are non-CARB.

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Average Reported Cost: $1200

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  1. Missy (Westwood,  Massachusetts) paid $1200 and said:


    Was it worth it? Yes

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