1998 Honda Civic catalytic converter replacement


I took my 98 Honda Civic to a mechanic because the check engine light was on. He said the catalytic converter was getting old, and says he will only use the dealer’s parts for a repair job, which are much more expensive (~$2,000).

I’m wondering if there’s any reason to shell out the extra $$ for a catalytic converter from the dealer, or will I be okay getting a generic part and having it installed elsewhere? This is an old but very reliable car that I will probably replace in the next 2-5 years.


It depends on where you live and how tough the emissions inspections are. California, for example, is very tough and if the replacement part is not certified to California’s spec - basically the Honda part - you will not pass. Other states are not so tough. Mine, for example, has no inspection at all so aftermarket replacement cats are OK. Call around and see what other places say.

I can’t see spending $2K for the factory part for a 20 year old car making any sense unless you have no other choice.

Thanks. I’m in South Carolina at the moment, so I’m guessing emission standards aren’t too strict around these parts. But I anticipate that I could be moving within the next year, and I’m not sure where.

Regardless, my main concern isn’t emissions, but just plain whether an aftermarket cat is going to fail on me. The mechanic said that he’ll only stand by the factory parts, and I’m just wondering whether that means the aftermarket parts are no good, or if he’s just trying to get me to spend more $$.

All that means is that if he going to warranty his work he wants the parts of his choice . So get a second opinion from a muffler shop.

In my opinion, aftermarket catalytic converters ARE of lesser quality, versus factory parts

But if you’re only planning on keeping the Civic another few years, instead of 20, you’ve got nothing to worry about

Get a second opinion, and a second estimate, from a reputable shop that does exhaust repairs and fabrication. I would urge you to avoid Meineke and the like.

It wouldn’t surprise me if your Civic has California emissions-specs. it’s quite common, even for cars that were not initially sold in California. And some states require owners to maintain the car to those standards, even if the car isn’t registered in California. Meaning if you have a california-spec car and an emission component fails, it needs to be replaced with a california-spec part.

Any shop installing a replacement aftermarket catalytic converter is hopefully aware of the local regulations

Depending on what emissions specs your car has, where you’re located and where you’re headed next year, it is theoretically possible a part will be installed that meets local regulations now, but will NOT in your new location

Tell the shop that you want to make sure that you won’t run into problems next year, in your new location

Translation . . . if the underhood emissions sticker says your car meets california emissions specs, have the shop install a catalytic converter that meets california specs and is approved for sale there.

I perform smog inspections in California, and if I see an aftermarket catalytic converter, I spend some time determining if it’s approved for that car, that model year, and for California. A lady I know actually failed smog inspection because the inspector saw an aftermarket catalytic converter and determined it was not approved for that make and model, not even the model year.

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Thank you, that really helps. I did actually buy the car (used) in California, then drove it out across country. So I’m sure it has the CA specs. I’ll be sure to follow your advice. Thx again!

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