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How Much Is a Catalytic Converter?

Catalytic converter up close

All car repairs cost money, but some automotive parts are more expensive than others. A catalytic converter is an example of one of these car parts. If you need to replace this component, it could require a significant chunk of cash.

So, how much is a catalytic converter? Let’s take a closer look. We’ll also share some basic information regarding the role this part plays in your car’s performance.

What Does a Catalytic Converter Do?

As your car’s engine does its work, it creates exhaust. These waste gases can be noxious. A catalytic converter converts these toxic gases into emissions that are less harmful before they leave your vehicle’s exhaust system.A catalytic converter cleans your car's emissions.

How does a catalytic converter make this happen? This car part looks a lot like a muffler. It’s made of stainless steel and has a honeycomb within its interior. The honeycomb is made largely of ceramic and includes elements such as platinum, rhodium and palladium. These elements create chemical reactions that clean up the harmful emissions that the car’s engine creates.

Why Is a Catalytic Converter So Expensive?

As we’ve mentioned, a catalytic converter relies on elements such as platinum and rhodium to clean your car’s emissions. These elements are precious metals, and they’re expensive. The inclusion of these costly materials is what makes a catalytic converter one of the most expensive car parts you can buy.

How Can You Tell if a Catalytic Converter Needs to Be Replaced?

If your catalytic converter needs to be replaced, it could cause your car’s check engine light to illuminate. It may also cause your car’s exhaust to have a strange odor. Additionally, it could cause your car to fail emissions tests. Ultimately, if this car part isn’t working properly, it could result in a loss of engine power.

How Much Is a Catalytic Converter?

It’s common for catalytic converters to come with a four-figure price. On average, this part costs about $1,500, not including labor. However, the price can vary dramatically from car to car. A replacement can cost anywhere from $300 to $2,500.

The price may depend on the type of unit you choose. You have two options when getting your catalytic converter replaced: You can choose a direct-fit or a universal-fit unit.

A universal-fit unit is the less costly option of the two. It’s installed by cutting out the old converter from the car’s exhaust section. Then, the new unit is put in place via welding or clamping. In many cases, a universal-fit unit can be purchased for as little as $200 to $300.

To install a direct-fit unit, the old converter’s flanges need to be unbolted. Then, a new unit needs to be bolted in. If you choose a direct-fit converter, the cost can range from $300 to $2,500.

If you’re having your catalytic converter replaced at an auto shop, you’ll also need to factor in labor costs. These can run between $140 and $180 in total, assuming this is the only work you need done.

A catalytic converter isn’t cheap. But it plays a key role in your car’s performance, so it’s important to get it replaced if there’s a problem.

Check out all the catalytic converter parts available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on how much a catalytic converter costs, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Warren Clarke View All

I'm a writer and editor who's a regular contributor with the New York Daily News and Carfax, and my content has appeared in over 20 publications. I've written content that covers industries such as automotive, medical, insurance, healthcare, real estate, plumbing, pest control, dental and hospitality.

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