Cheapest Way to Fix Catalytic Converter

Cheapest Way to Fix Catalytic Converter

A catalytic converter is a crucial component of the vehicle’s exhaust system. And like any automotive part, it can start to malfunction or fail altogether. If you are on a tight budget, you might be wondering what is the cheapest way to fix a catalytic converter?

To fix a catalytic converter on a budget, cleaning it is the first and cheapest step. If that doesn’t work, check warranty coverage, explore aftermarket parts, and browse online classifieds or forums for used converters being sold by others.

If you suspect the issue is merely a clogged converter, there may be a chance to restore its functionality by cleaning it. Nonetheless, if the converter is irreparably damaged, you will need to replace it.

Unfortunately, catalytic converter replacement might end up costing you a small fortune. The average cost of getting the catalytic converter replaced varies between $800 and $2,500.

And with the rising cost of auto repair, it can be overwhelming to figure out how to go about making this necessary fix.

The good news is that there are a few tips that can help you save your hard-earned bucks. So, let’s jump into what’s the cheapest way to fix catalytic converter.

What is The Cheapest Way to Fix Catalytic Converter?

There are two cost-effective approaches to fixing a catalytic converter. The first option, and the cheapest, is to clean it using catalytic converter cleaner.

If the element isn’t excessively dirty, you can add the cleaner to a fuel tank that is only about ¼ full. Take a drive afterward to allow the cleaner to circulate through the exhaust system. This method typically requires an investment of only $8 to $20.

Truth be told, catalytic converter cleaner should be used every 3,000 miles to keep the element working as designed. This is particularity the case if your vehicle consumes oil due.

If the initial cleaning doesn’t yield satisfactory results, you may need to remove the catalytic converter from the car and clean it manually.

You can accomplish this by soaking the component overnight in a bucket of laundry detergent or Purple Power or similar cleaner.

Although this method doesn’t require any additional expenses, removing the catalytic converter can pose some challenges.

Other Cheap Ways to Fix Catalytic Converter

Sometimes, the problem is not with your catalytic converter, but with the oxygen sensor. The element is typically mounted directly onto the exhaust pipe, next to the catalytic converter.

Both of these elements can trigger the ‘check engine’ light and might make it difficult for you to start the engine.

However, replacing the oxygen sensor is a lot cheaper than taking care of the catalytic converter (the element would cost you $20-$100). So, it might be worth inspecting the sensor before spending a thousand dollars on the converter.

Change The Catalytic Converter Yourself

This is definitely not the cheapest way to fix catalytic converter as the actual part can cost up to $1,650 depending on the car’s make and model. But you might be able to find some used catalytic converters on online marketplaces for cheaper.

Installing the element yourself would allow you to save on the cost of the labor (which can be up to $130 per hour), but you should be aware of the issues that might arise if you choose this method.

First of all, it may illegal to buy used catalytic converters in some states. Secondly, you might not be able to determine the element’s efficiency. In fact, you would be violating the policies of the EPA if the converter that you have bought has not been properly tested and certified.  

What Are the Symptoms of a Catalytic Converter Going Bad?

Check Engine Light

There are several signs that indicate potential issues with a vehicle’s engine and exhaust system. One of the most common indicators is a triggered ‘check engine’ light displayed on the dashboard. This warning light serves as an early signal that something might be wrong and requires attention.

Reduced Power While Driving

Another indication of engine problems is reduced performance and efficiency. If you notice that your vehicle is not running as smoothly as before or experiencing a decrease in power, it could be a sign of underlying engine issues.

Smoke or Smoke of Unusual Colors Coming From The Exhaust

Unusual smoke coming from the exhaust is also a cause for concern. If you observe an excessive amount of smoke or notice smoke of unusual colors, it may indicate problems with the engine or the exhaust system.

A Strange Rotten Egg Smell

Pay attention to any strange odors, particularly a rotten egg smell. Such odors could be a sign of a malfunctioning catalytic converter, which is responsible for reducing harmful emissions.

Metallic Noises

Additionally, metallic noises coming from the catalytic converter can be indicative of a problem. These noises may suggest that the internal components of the converter are damaged or deteriorating.

Failed Emission Test

Lastly, a failed emission test is a clear indication that your vehicle is not meeting the required environmental standards. This failure typically points to issues within the engine or exhaust system that need to be addressed.

If you encounter any of these signs, it is advisable to have your vehicle inspected by your local mechanic. Ignoring these warning signs could potentially lead to further damage and more expensive repairs down the line.

Cheapest Way to Fix Catalytic Converter FAQs

Do Catalytic Converter Cleaners Work?

Generally yes, catalytic converter cleaners are designed to remove deposits and build-up from the catalytic converter. However, the effectiveness of these cleaners can vary depending on how dirty the catalytic converter is.

Cleaners can be beneficial in removing minor carbon deposits and contaminants, improving efficiency and performance. However, for severely damaged or malfunctioning converters, cleaners may not be enough, and professional inspection or replacement might be necessary.

Are Catalytic Converters Worth Fixing?

Fixing a catalytic converter is usually worth it, as it is much cheaper to fix than replace. Cleaners can be purchased for less than $30 dollars at a local auto parts store.

Is it Bad to Keep Driving With a Bad Catalytic Converter?

Driving with a faulty catalytic converter can cause several problems. It can reduce your vehicle’s performance, making it less powerful and fuel-efficient. It can also lead to higher emissions, which might make your vehicle fail emissions tests and result in fines.

Moreover, a bad catalytic converter can potentially damage your engine and trigger the check engine light, leading to reduced fuel efficiency. Ignoring the issue can result in more extensive damage and expensive repairs.

Can You Unclog a Catalytic Converter?

Yes, by soaking the converter element in a bucket of laundry detergent or purple power. It’s an easy and inexpensive fix that could regain engine performance and optimize MPG – not to mention improve air quality.

Simply fill your bucket with the cleaning agent and submerge your catalytic converter element inside for several hours.

What Are The Signs of a Clogged Catalytic Converter?

If you experience sluggish engine performance, diminished acceleration, a foul odor resembling rotten eggs or sulfur emitting from the exhaust, excessive dark exhaust smoke, or intense heat emanating from beneath the vehicle, these signs indicate a blocked Catalytic Converter.

What is The Cheapest Way to Fix Catalytic Converter to Pass Inspection?

If you notice a slight increase in fuel consumption and power decrease while accelerating, try doing a couple of highway pulls. While merging onto a highway, press the accelerator pedal down to give it significant gas.

Higher RPMs will heat up the catalytic converter and blow out any deposits that may be stuck within the convertor.

Of course, ensure you don’t break the speed limit and don’t endanger anyone else on the road. 

Cheapest Way to Fix Catalytic Converter if it’s Rattling?

If you hear a rattling sound coming from the catalytic converter, it means that the structure inside, which looks like a honeycomb, is either broken or falling apart. At this point, the only solution is to get it replaced.

Final Thoughts: Cheapest Way to Fix Catalytic Converter

The cheapest way to fix catalytic converter is by giving it a good clean. Furthermore, a faulty oxygen sensor can sometimes have the same symptoms as a failed converter. And in such a case, all you would have to do is simply replace the rather inexpensive sensor.

Overall, taking care of a vehicle’s catalytic converter isn’t an inexpensive endeavor. Simple cleaning can be done relatively cheaply, but it won’t work on all problems. And if you need a new one, the best avenue may be to check your warranty coverage or explore aftermarket parts as they are often significantly cheaper than OEM replacements.

It is also possible to find good quality used converters posted online, so perusing through classifieds or relevant forums can help you save some money.

Ultimately, although replacing these parts can take a toll on your wallet; it will be much more cost efficient than buying an entirely new car!

Keeping up with regular maintenance and checking for any signs of trouble to help avoid costly repairs in the future is key. By taking proper care of your car’s exhaust system components you can ensure safe driving conditions and make sure your automobile holds its value for years to come.

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