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How Long Does It Take To Replace A Catalytic Converter?

Catalytic converters are an essential part of your vehicle and will need replacing at some point. With the help of automotive experts, we will help you determine how long it would take to replace your catalytic converter with a new one.

Replacing your catalytic converter will take around 1 to 2 hours. It should not take longer than two hours to replace since the mechanic does not have to disassemble any other part of your vehicle to access the catalytic converter.

Catalytic converters are required in many states since it is needed to pass the emissions test. For more information about catalytic converters, keep reading below.

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How To Replace A Catalytic Converter

Mechanic inspects car suspension system and chassis with a torch-lite under the car

A catalytic converter is an essential component of your vehicle since they help keep the harmful gases your car makes to a minimum. Its job is to convert toxic gases into less toxic pollutants by catalyzing a redox reaction. For a mechanic, it will take less than 2 hours to replace them since it doesn't require removing the other components of your vehicle.

Below you can find the steps for removing and replacing your catalytic converter:

  1. Get your vehicle on level ground and raise it to access the catalytic converter. You can use jack stands since this is the safer method.
  2. Locate the catalytic converter on the front part of your vehicle. You'll know it's the catalytic converter since it is larger than the pipes it's connected to. 
  3. With a socket and wrench, remove the catalytic converter. You can use WD-40 or a similar substance to loosen the bolts. 
  4. Get your new catalytic converter and install it. Follow the steps in reverse order.

When installing your new catalytic converter, ensure no exhaust gas is escaping by burning a candle nearby. If there is any gas escaping, the fire will go out.

Another way to check is to listen to your car. If the catalytic converter isn't secured or properly installed, your car will sound louder than usual. Since your exhaust system with a catalytic converter is a bit restricting air, a louder exhaust sound would mean gases are escaping.

Here is a video demonstrating how to replace a catalytic converter:

Why Do You Need To Replace Catalytic Converter?

A large and rusty used catalytic converter that is removed from the vehicle, How Long Does It Take To Replace A Catalytic Converter?

Keeping the components of your vehicle in their best condition is a good practice, and knowing when to replace them can save you a lot of trouble. Catalytic converters are like any other component; they get worn or damaged and eventually need to be replaced.

There are multiple reasons you should replace the catalytic converter, but the two most common are that it may be damaged or not function as intended.

  • It is already old. A catalytic converter has a lifespan of ten years; older catalytic converters tend not to function properly hence the need for a newer one.
  • It could have been stolen. There are cases where new vehicles get their catalytic converters stolen; this is more prominent in hybrids and trucks.
  • It is damaged due to excess gas expelled into the exhaust system. Immense heat is produced when gas is expelled, which can cause the metals within the catalytic converter to melt. Bad spark plugs, wrong air/fuel mixture, incorrect engine timing, and other issues can cause excess fuel to get into the exhaust system, causing the catalytic converter to heat up.

Also, be aware of foul smells and louder noise, and lack of acceleration. Lastly, check your dash when the check engine light is on. These can be signs that there is a problem with your catalytic converter.

What Happens When You Remove The Catalytic Converter?

Exhaust system of a modern car bottom view

Removing the catalytic converter without a replacement is not a good idea, especially if you use your car daily, since this can bring multiple negative effects. When a car has no catalytic converter, it is considered a straight pipe.

Below you can find the pros and cons of removing the catalytic converter from your car.

Pros

There's an increase in power since exhaust gases will have a smoother flow. In contrast, the catalytic converter provides a bit of backpressure since it is more restrictive because of the honeycomb-like filling inside it.

It could give you better gas mileage. With no backpressure build-up, your engine will consume less gas for more power and mileage.

Lastly, there's a reduction in engine temperature. Since the hot gases your engine produce can easily exit the exhaust system, there's no heat build-up.

Cons

One of the most noticeable drawbacks is the noise. With no catalytic converter, it leads to a straight pipe and causes your vehicle's idle and acceleration noise to increase drastically.

You are also polluting the air. The catalytic converter is designed to help break down the harmful and toxic gases produced, and without it, these gases will flow straight out of your exhaust. This is illegal in most cities since it leads to air and noise pollution, and statutory laws regulate it.

You will likely fail an emissions test since your car is not road-worthy. If you plan to have a catalytic converter removed, make sure that it is not on your daily vehicle but on a race car or truck.

A vehicle with no catalytic converter will also be met with negative remarks from other people because of the noise.

Do You Need A Muffler If You Have A Catalytic Converter?

Yes, you will still need a muffler at the end of your vehicle's exhaust system. A muffler and a catalytic converter are both parts of your car's exhaust system, and they play different roles. A catalytic converter is there to filter harmful and toxic gases to reduce the effect they have on the environment, while a muffler is there to help muffle the sound of your car.

Without a muffler, your vehicle will sound significantly louder. Depending on where you live, removing the muffler of a road car is illegal since this can bring unwanted and unnecessary noise.

Do You Have To Replace the O2 Sensor When Replacing The Catalytic Converter?

Close up hand car mechanic hold oxygen sensor of exhaust system of gasoline engine

No, it is not necessary to replace your O2 sensor when you get your catalytic converter replaced. Typically when a catalytic converter breaks or goes faulty, the sensor will not be damaged.

It is only necessary to get your O2 sensor replaced when you get a new catalytic converter, and after a few miles, the check engine light comes on. If this happens, take your vehicle back to where you got the new catalytic converter and have them check or replace the O2 sensor.

Why Do People Steal Catalytic Converters?

You may have heard that catalytic converters are stolen frequently. This is very true, and it is a real problem some car owners have to deal with. The reason why people steal catalytic converters is because of the precious metal within. Some rare metals you can find are rhodium, platinum, and palladium. People stealing catalytic converters can get a lot of money from selling these metals, but they will need more than one catalytic converter to even get an ounce.

Since catalytic converters last around ten years, robbers typically prefer newer cars since they can get the most unused metals. They target certain vehicles, such as hybrids or large trucks. Hybrids are a popular choice since most are driven in the city and rely on their battery rather than the combustion engine, thus causing less wear on the catalytic converter. With trucks, their high ground clearance gives people easy access to the catalytic converter.

There are a few ways to protect your catalytic converter from being stolen. Keeping your vehicle in your garage or park in well-lit areas. You can also get a catalytic converter shield; alternatively, you can weld sheet metal or rebars on it.

In the end, these may not stop a determined robber, but it makes them rethink if the added security is worth the trouble since these guys rely on speed when stealing catalytic converters.

Check out this protector shield on Amazon.

Closing

View of the car from below

Replacing your catalytic converter is a must since this is an essential part of your vehicle. This helps with converting toxic and harmful gases from your engine into less harmful gases. Also, having a functional catalytic converter helps lessen pollution and help your vehicle pass the emissions test.

For related topics, check out the following posts:

Can You Bypass A Catalytic Converter?

Why Do Catalytic Converters Go Bad? [12 Reasons Explained]