Is A Catalytic Converter Worth Replacing?

Is a catalytic converter worth replacing, or should you say your goodbyes to your car? JunkCarMasters has answers.

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catalytic converter

A catalytic converter takes toxic gasses and pollutants produced by the internal combustion engine and converts them to less toxic emissions that are released through the exhaust pipe.

As a result, fewer toxins are emitted into the atmosphere.

Modern gas and diesel-powered vehicles are all engineered with a catalytic converter. It not only helps to reduce the amounts of pollutants in the atmosphere but it also helps your engine run more efficiently by removing heat and pressure.

A catalytic converter is vital to your car’s wellbeing and driving without one is not in your best interest. But, what should you do if it’s broken?

Is It Worthwhile To Replace A Catalytic Converter?

Because a catalytic converter is necessary to convert the harmful gasses of your engine, your first thought might be that replacing your catalytic converter is also necessary.

If you don’t replace a damaged or malfunctioning catalytic converter, you can expect some harmful side effects like:

  • A stalling engine
  • Rough idling
  • A rotten egg smell emitting from the tailpipe
  • The potential of a fire if the converter gets too hot
  • Reduced fuel efficiency

No driver wants to deal with any of these negative effects of a damaged catalytic converter. As a result, you might think that it’s worth it to replace your converter.

However, this part comes at a high cost.

Catalytic Converter Replacement Cost

damaged catcon over engine

When your car needs a new catalytic converter, you can expect to pay a hefty price for one. At the lowest end of the range, you might be able to spend only $400.

However, catalytic converters can cost as much as $3,000, not even including labor costs. The average cost, though, is about $1,600.

On top of the converter itself, you might also need to pay for additional parts like the muffler, oxygen sensor, or tailpipe. Plus, diagnostic tests will likely also be a part of the total cost which can cost anything from $60 to $160.

Below is a summary of what you can expect to pay when you go in for a catalytic converter replacement:

  • Catalytic converter: $400-$3,000
  • Diagnostic testing: $60-$160
  • Oxygen sensor: $115-$480
  • Muffler: $160-$240
  • Labor: $70-$130 per hour

With everything combined, you’re looking at spending more than $1,000 even at the lower end of the price range.

Can You Drive Without A Catalytic Converter?

While your car doesn’t need a catalytic converter to run, it’s not advisable to drive without one. In fact, in many states, you won’t be permitted to drive your car unless it has a well-functioning catalytic converter.

Moreover, it’s illegal in every state to drive without a catalytic converter.

Currently, 34 U.S. states require your vehicle to pass a smog check. Without a catalytic converter, your car won’t pass the check.

A smog check evaluates the levels of toxins that your car emits. If your catalytic converter is in working order, your car should be emitting no more than the state-mandated amount of toxins like:

  • Carbon monoxide (CO)
  • Carbon dioxide (CO2)
  • Nitrogen oxide (NO2)

The states that require a smog check include:

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • District of Columbia
  • Georgia
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Missouri
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin

Depending on the state, you might be exempt from the smog check if you live in certain counties or drive specific vehicles.

If you live in one of these smog check states and fail the inspection because of your damaged converter, one consequence you can face is getting denied your vehicle registration renewal.

Without up-to-date registration, you risk being stopped and fined by law enforcement.  

Who Buys Cars With Damaged Catalytic Converters?

blown engine

Dealing with a broken catalytic converter can be a hassle. From buying the costly part and getting it installed to taking your car for a smog inspection, it can be a headache.

Plus, depending on your car’s value, a catalytic converter repair might not even be worth it.

Instead, you can sell your car as-is to JunkCarMasters. No repair required — we will give you a fair market offer for your vehicle with a damaged catalytic converter.

Here’s how our process works:

  1. You input details about your car into our calculator.
  2. In less than two minutes, you get a fair market estimate.
  3. Accept our offer.
  4. Schedule a tow truck to pick up your car in 24 to 48 hours.
  5. Hand over your keys and get paid!

The process really is that simple and straightforward. Plus, you don’t have to pay for towing or deal with haggling and you get paid the exact amount you were quoted.

How much does it cost to replace a catalytic converter?

Catalytic converter repair is costly. The part itself sells, on average, for $1,600. At the high end, a catalytic converter can cost as much as $3,000.

When you factor in labor, you’re paying an additional $60 to $130 per hour.

So, no matter what kind of car you have, you can expect to spend more than $1,000 replacing a catalytic converter.

Is it worthwhile to replace a catalytic converter?

Because it is illegal to drive without a catalytic converter and most states require vehicles to pass smog checks, it is essential that a damaged catalytic converter be replaced.

However, the parts and labor for a replacement make it a pricey service—one that many drivers may not be able to afford.

So, while crucial and necessary, replacing a catalytic converter might not be worthwhile to replace. Looking into selling your car as-is might be a better financial decision.

It’s a Quick and Easy Process

Step 1: Vehicle Details

Vehicle Details

Provide us with your vehicle’s details and a picture if asked.

Step 2: Offer


Request your guaranteed offer from us online.

Step 3: Accept


Accept the offer if you’re happy with it.

Step 4: Get Paid

Get Paid

In 24-48 hrs, you will get paid and have your car towed for free!

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