Catalytic Converter 101 Page 3

After the 1995 model year, the availability of aftermarket converters for use in California has become even more strict and, again, there are guidelines that have to be followed to determine which parts can be used on what vehicle.  


All vehicles have at least one converter and most have more than one.  In a "V" style motor, (a v-6, v-8 or v-10) there will be at least one catalytic converter for each bank of the motor, and a lot of vehicles have a third or fourth catalytic down the line.  So if there is a failure with one of the electronic controls or a mechanical failure that harms the catalyst system, it can affect multiple parts and become very costly.  

The state of California has an on-line web site that identifies, for 1996 and newer, almost every make and type of car or truck used in the state and then lists the legal parts that can be used to replace the original catalytic converter.


So, after it has been determined that the vehicle needs a new converter, the technician will determine whether there is a legal aftermarket part for the car/truck, if not, then the customer will need to contact the dealer for the correct part.


One strange fact of the aftermarket industry is: the state mandates that the aftermarket catalytic converters have a 5 year, 50,000 mile warranty. That’s as opposed to the Original Equipment replacement converters that have only a 1 year, 12,000 mile warranty.  

The aftermarket manufacturers make it very difficult to warranty a replacement converter.


If it becomes necessary to replace an aftermarket converter, the manufacturer will require all of the original paper work, sometimes asking for the original repair order for the work performed prior to installing the replacement converter.  They also want to see a copy of the smog test, pass/fail for both before and after repairs.  So it is very important to have a qualified shop look into what problems have caused the failure of the original or aftermarket converter.


There are several conditions that will void any warranty such as, signs of external damage from hitting something, indications of overheating, discoloration of the outside of the converter (which can indicate overheating), rattling of the internals, melting of the internals or excessive residue on the internal catalyst material which would indicate engine problems.  If there are no visible signs of failure and all of the paper work is available, then the part will be sent to the manufacturer who has the final word as to the warranty.  If the warranty is approved, then the part and labor cost will be reimbursed to the customer.  


If you reside here in Ventura County and need a qualified smog technician, we have several shops that we can recommend that can perform the necessary diagnostics and repairs, give us a call and we will be glad to talk with you about who and where we would suggest.  


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