ABOUT USED CATALYTIC CONVERTERS
Please note that federal law prohibits Pull-A-Part—or any other salvage yard—from selling used catalytic converters. This page is for informational purposes only and is written to help you learn more about catalytic converters and what you can do in the event of you needing to replace the converter in your vehicle.
WHAT IS THE CATALYTIC CONVERTER?
A catalytic converter is responsible for controlling the emissions that come out of the exhaust of your vehicle.
WHAT DOES THE PART DO?
The catalytic converter will reduce the amount of toxic pollutants that are released by the exhaust. This is accomplished by catalyzing a redox reaction.
WHAT DOES THE PART LOOK LIKE?
A catalytic converter has an oblong shape with a wide middle. The part itself can range in length from 10 to 14 inches long with a 1 ¾ to 2 ½ inch diameter at either ends. The widest point of the body can measure about eight inches.
WHERE IS THERE PART TYPICALLY LOCATED ON THE VEHICLE?
The catalytic converter is located on the underside of the vehicle between the exhaust manifold and the muffler.
WHAT DO YOU LOOK FOR IN A USED CATALYTIC CONVERTER?
Many catalytic converters are stripped for their precious metal contents including platinum. Therefore you will want to make sure that the platinum content is still inside the part. Also make sure that the structure of the part is intact including the stainless steel shell and the ceramic honeycomb shell.
WHAT ELSE SHOULD I KNOW ABOUT A CATALYTIC CONVERTER BEFORE I PURCHASE ONE?
First off, it's important for you to know that it is illegal for any salvage yard to sell catalytic converters. Pull-A-Part removes catalytic converters from all vehicles before putting them out on our display yards. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers it a violation of its policies for consumers to install a used converter from a salvage yard or sell it for reuse unless it has been properly tested and labeled.
According to the EPA, there are only three situations when you can install an aftermarket converter. They are:
- If the converter is missing from the vehicle when brought in for exhaust system repair
- If a State or local inspection program has determined the existing converter has been lead poisoned, damaged, or otherwise needs replacement.
- If the vehicle is more than 5 years old or has more than 50,000 miles (8 years/80,000 miles for 1995 or newer vehicles) and a legitimate need for replacement has been established and appropriately documented (e.g., a plugged converter or unrepairable exhaust leaks)
Any other converter replacement must be wit a 'certified' or new original equipment (OE) or equivalent converter.
With all of this in mind, the catalytic converter is a rare example of a part that is better off being purchased through an authorized repair facility or reputable aftermarket auto parts retailer that can provide you with the compliant converter for your specific year, make and model vehicle. We do not recommend customers look for used catalytic converters for their repair needs. Not only are there laws you may break by doing this, but you may do damage to your vehicle in the process.
Also, you can not install a salvage catalytic converter without it being tested and certified by the EPA. Make sure the used part that you buy has been tested and labeled.
WHAT OTHER PARTS ARE CONNECTED OR THAT I MAY NEED FOR THIS PART?
If you are planning to install the catalytic converter yourself, then you will need the following tools and parts:
- Ratchet and socket set
- Oxygen sensor socket
- Penetrating oil
- Jack stands
WHAT SIGNS OF WEAR SHOULD I LOOK AT WHEN BUYING A USED CATALYTIC CONVERTER?
Check for any scorching inside the converter. Also check for any cracks on the stainless steel shell. Finally, check to make sure that the honeycomb interior is not damaged.
WHAT IS THE AVERAGE LIFESPAN OF A CATALYTIC CONVERTER?
The average lifespan of a catalytic converter is about ten years.
WHEN SHOULD THE PART BE REPLACED?
A catalytic converter should be replaced when you detect the following performance signs:
- Sluggish engineer performance
- Dark exhaust smoke
- Excessive heat under the vehicle
- Failed smog test
- Sell of sulfur from the exhaust
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT CATALYTIC CONVERTER THEFT
Due to the value of precious metals used in the manufacturing of catalytic converters, theft of these parts is a growing issue in many communities. Pull-A-Part is working alongside law enforcement agencies in many of the communities we operate in to help fight against catalytic converter theft. This is another reason you should never buy used catalytic converters, as you may indirectly be contributing to crime in your area. The best bet is for you to consult with your local repair facility or authorized aftermarket auto parts retailer who is able to legally sell you the correct, compliant replacement converter for your vehicle.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT CATALYTIC CONVERTERS
WHAT MAKES A CATALYTIC CONVERTER BECOME HOT?
Sometimes there is an issue with the fuel system that brings too much fuel to the converter. This can cause the converter to overheat. If the issue is not resolved, then the converter can melt.
WHAT CAUSES A CATALYTIC CONVERTER TO BECOME PLUGGED?
If a converter has been operating too long, then the part can begin to overheat. This can cause the substrate to melt down and become plugged.
WHAT IS A THREE-WAY CONVERTER?
A three converter is designed to control carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons and oxides of nitrogen.
CAN I USE A STANDARD CONVERTER ON A VEHICLE WITH A DIESEL ENGINE?
No. A diesel engine has different emission requirements and a standard converter will not be compatible with this type of powertrain.
WHAT IS THE OXYGEN SENSOR?
The oxygen sensor collects information and sends it to the ECU or Electronic Control Unit. This controls the air and fuel mix.