2001 Toyota Sienna fix the car or get rid of it

I have a 2001 Sienna with 145,000 miles (mostly from commuting on interstate 95 between Washington, DC and Baltiomre, MD). I have just failed the Maryland vehicle emmissions inspection and need to have two catalytic converters replaced (my mechanic says because teh car was built in California). The estimate for the work comes to approximately $2,000.00. The car is running fine despite this problem.

The car loan is paid off.

Should we get the car fixed (will we get a few more years from it) or should we trade it in and make no additional investment in the repairs.

If the engine, and transmission are good, and no engine oil burning, its probably worth fixing.

That is a question that should be answered when purchasing a used car, AKA Car Fax. Not that California vehicles are bad. Its just that it could be more expensive to maintain in the long run.

I agree. I think the car is also worth it. And, just to add: there is an emissions sticker under the hood that will state if it was made for California emissions or general Federal emissions. Just a note for any future car shoppers.

What I would do first is a little fishing on the net. Check sites like Advance Auto, Checkers, O’Reillys, etc. and price the converters there.
Then price the labor at a general muffler shop. Odds are you could beat that 2000 dollar figure by quite a bit by doing it this way.

Just offhand, I’d say fix it. If you buy another car you’re going to be losing money due to interest anyway unless you paid cash + your trade.

Thanks for the great advice!

Good to know all comments have encouraged keeping the car. Thanks!

Thanks for the advice. The car is not burning oil and the transmission is fine.

Ask your mechanic the basis for his decision that the catalytic converters require replacement. Ask him to respond to us, here at CarTalk board, directly, or write it out thoroughly to explain WHY, and, you could post it for him. I am completely serious.
The Emissions Test Station has a list of emission repair shops that they recognize. Ask them for it; then, decide which, your mechanic or the emissions repair shop, may save you the most money.

a comment if you choose to fix your car:
A muffler shop recently installed an aftermarket catalytic converter for also less than one from a dealership, the check engine light came on after a few hundred miles, the same code as before was read indicating a deficient cat. converter, I would make sure to get the right fit for the car, warranty for parts and labor, refund if the car fails emission test, ask if there have been problems with aftermarket cat. converters for the make and model you drive …

I have had a similar experience. An aftermarket or rebuilt catalytic converter will save you money, but probably won’t make that “check engine” light go away. If the light doesn’t go away, you probably won’t pass an emissions inspection. If you go with anything other than OEM catalytic converters, make sure you get a guarantee in writing that the CEL will go away and it will pass inspection.

to Whitey: how did you follow up, when the CEL did not go off, or did you just ignore it, if the work was done at a car repair shop, did they fix it and how?

I went back to the muffler shop, but decided to live with it. Luckily, my state (Florida) stopped doing emission inspections, so I just live with the CEL and the rebuilt catalytic converter. According to one mechanic, the emissions are lower than the legal limit was when Florida was testing emissions. They just are not as low as the Honda computer thinks they should be. The muffler shop offered to replace the catalytic converter again, but I didn’t think it would change the results.