How To Buy A Catalytic Converter
If it’s your first time to buy a catalytic converter, it can become confusing. Even mechanics still make mistakes sometimes if they’re not mindful of what they’re buying. Furthermore, buying the wrong type of catalytic converter could risk violating federal or state regulations.
In this article, you’ll see advice on how to buy the correct catalytic converter. This way, you’ll be sure you meet your state’s regulations. At the end of the article, you’ll also find a list of catalytic converters available online as suggestions.
What Is A Catalytic Converter?
Catalytic converters (also known as “cat cons” or “cats) are parts of the exhaust system. They help convert the emitted toxic gases into harmless gases. What’s more, inside this device, the “catalyst” part is where the chemical reaction takes place.
There are two types of catalysts depending on what chemical reaction takes place.
- Two-way catalyst
Diesel engines mainly use two-way catalytic converters, which reduce the emissions of carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons. They also perform two simultaneous functions: oxidize hydrocarbons and convert them to water and carbon dioxide, and oxidize carbon monoxide to carbon dioxide.
2. Three-way catalyst
You will find three-way catalytic converters in lighter duty vehicles, particularly those with gasoline-powered engines. Compared to two-way converters, three-way converters also control the emission of nitrous oxide.
As the name implies, three-way converters perform three functions: it reduces nitrogen oxide to oxygen and nitrogen, oxidizes hydrocarbons to water and carbon dioxide, and oxidizes carbon monoxide to carbon dioxide.
Catalytic converters are mainly built to control toxic emissions coming from vehicles, which is why these devices are highly regulated both in the state and federal level.
California Emissions/Federal Emissions
In California, the aftermarket of catalytic converters became strictly regulated after the California Air Resources Board (CARB) created regulations for it in 2009. This means anyone purchasing a catalytic converter within the state of California must abide by the regulations set by the CARB.
To help you with your purchasing decision, here are 4 simple steps:
Make sure to note down the year you purchased your vehicle, as well as its make and model.
2. Emissions Level
Look for the Vehicle Emissions Control Information Tag located in both under the hood and near the radiator. You can spot these easily.
3. Converter Grade
If you’re not sure about which converter grade your car should have, you can simply consult your mechanic to check this for you.
4. Converter Configuration
Direct-fit configurations mean that the converter can be fitted directly without the need for any modification. This is best used for vehicles that still have the original factory exhaust systems.
Universal-fit configurations will need some welding or fabrications done to fit it to a vehicle. This is the more cost-effective option.
Below are three of the most recommended catalytic converters that are compliant with the CARB regulations.
Walker 81767 Calcat OBDII Catalytic Converter
This converter’s stainless steel body is even more durable due to its heat shields and aluminized pipes. In addition, it’s OE-style hanger position and routing makes it easy to install. Also, it has OE-style brackets, hangers, and flanges for improved strength.
Customers who’ve tried it said their vehicles ran more smoothly and their exhausts smelled cleaner after installing it. On the other hand, the only downside to this is that it doesn’t come with an installation kit. Hence, you’ll have to make use of your previous nuts and assemblies.
Price: $254 – $480
Eastern 50366 Direct Fit Catalytic Converter
This Eastern direct-fit converter has a high-flow design and catalytic chemistry. It focuses on maximizing catalytic efficiency and engine output. If you purchase this converter it will include a Value Pack installation kit. Furthermore, this kit contains everything needed for an easy and fast installation, including gaskets, studs, fasteners, and other accessories.
According to reviews, you can use these in SUVs and light trucks that accommodate OE-style assemblies. This is also a great choice for DIY people. This is because it already comes with an installation kit.
Price: $275 – $480
Walker 16387 Direct Fit Catalytic Converter
This one is specifically for OBDII vehicles. Also, it still carries a stainless body, and durability remains superb. This is due to the heat shields and aluminized pipes. It uses OE-style hangers, flanges, and brackets.
Looking at the reviews, this converter fits well into most vehicles. However, it doesn’t come with gaskets. Hence, make sure to buy the correctly sized ones from Walker (in sizes #31619 and #31383).
Price: $133 – $260
These three converters have great reviews on Amazon. However, consult with your mechanic to see if they have other recommended converters for your vehicle.