What is a Catalytic Converter?

A catalytic converter is a portion of a vehicle’s exhaust system that cleans up the vehicle’s emissions. Since 1975, cars, vans, and light trucks were required by law to be outfitted with a catalytic converter for smog purposes.

Where Is the Catalytic Converter Located?

A mechanic at A+ Japanese Auto Repair in San Carlos, CA repairing a failing catalytic converter

The catalytic converter looks a lot like a muffler. On the inside of the converter, there is a honeycomb structure made up of special material. The exhaust gases pass through the honeycomb structure, and when the converter gets hot enough, it will “convert” some of the vehicle’s harmful emission to a fraction of what it used to be before it exits the tailpipe.

How Will I Know If My Catalytic Converter Is Not Working Correctly?

It would be safe to assume the catalytic converter is working properly until one of two things happen. You might get a check engine light on the dash alerting you that the catalytic converter has low efficiency. Those codes would be P0420 or P0430, depending upon which catalytic converter is failing. Or, the other way you might know if your catalytic converter isn’t working well is if you go in for a smog check and the emission from the car are too high.

How Much Does It Cost to Replace a Catalytic Converter?

Unfortunately, the catalytic converter on cars 1996 and newer can be very pricey. We have been changing catalytic converters for drivers in San Carlos for over 21 years here at A+ Japanese Auto Repair. We highly recommend to always go with the OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) catalytic converter. There are “aftermarket” catalytic converters that are available for purchase, but sometimes they will not be compliant with local laws. We have also seen that these converters don’t clean up the exhaust as they should. Those who had decided to go with an aftermarket catalytic converter will usually end up having to change it again in 6-12 months.

A typical catalytic converter replacement can range from $500 to $2,000, depending on where the converter is located, how big it is, and the type of vehicle. Remember to always check the exhaust gaskets and check the oxygen sensors while changing the catalytic converters if you attempt this replacement yourself.

Trust the Experts at A+ Japanese Auto Repair

At A+ Japanese Auto Repair, our factory-trained mechanics can replace a failing catalytic converter for a variety of Japanese makes, including Honda, Subaru, Toyota, Hyundai, Lexus, Acura, and more. Schedule an appointment with us today to get your vehicle up to state emissions code with a new catalytic converter.


Disclaimer: This article is provided for general informational purposes only.  It is not intended as advice for your particular vehicle, and should not be relied upon for that purpose.  Please consult a qualified automotive maintenance professional to determine the maintenance and repair needs for your vehicle.

Categories: Auto Parts
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