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2004 Touareg Catalytic Converter shot

Dealer quoted $6,580 to replace catalytic converter-- my dear husband thinks he can replace himself. How difficult is it? Car is a 2004 with 70K miles…do we just sell and buy a new car? Is there a cheaper way to get it replaced?

they dealer just called back to say its 5,580…still seems outrageous? HELP?

[Edited for clarity] Lots of catalytic converters get replaced without need based only on sloppy or lack of actual diagnosis. What makes the dealer say that yours does?

I believe, btw, that there is a federally mandated 8yr/80K mile warranty on this component, just in case it does need to be replaced. You’re at 8 yrs and still under the 80K. If it does not fall under warranty, AND you’re certain that you need a new converter (doubtful), then get it the heck out of the dealer’s shop.

Yeah. A much, much, much cheaper way. Take it to a reputable, iindependantly owned and operated garage. Have him verify that it in fact actually needs a converter, and if it does have him install a direct-fit aftermarket replacement.

$6,580? Sheeese!

That seems expensive. Because of them having been made with platinum, they aren’t cheap but that just seems excessive.
Why is it being replaced? Is the car throwing codes or not passing emissions?

Not sure about the VW Touareg but most CATs just unbolt and you can bolt another one right on. A Touareg may have two, though - maybe that’s where the price comes in (still seems expensive). It is part of the muffler so under the car. The car would have to have all four wheels on ramps so your husband can crawl under it and use tools safely. It is not a fun job for that reason but perfectly doable.
You may need a cutting wheel to cut through some of the rusted bolts but it isn’t magic. It may also need O2 sensor(s) - again, a bolt on item that usually has plugs that need undoing.

If the catalytic converter does need to be replaced (which is worth a second opinion), be aware that they normally don’t just die; they’re usually killed by some other problem. If the underlying problem isn’t corrected, the new one can be killed too.

+1 on lions comment, definitely.

thanks for all the comments…so helpful…we passed emissions 5 months ago but engine light just came on the dashboard. will have a second opinion.

+2 on Remco’s comment about a cause. Especially at only 70K miles use.

Common causes include lack of maintenance leading to inefficient operation as well as oil burning, either of which can leave carbon deposits on the catalyst. The deposits interfere with the platinum-palladium’s ability to come in contact with the NOx molecules, which it needs to do to work its magic.

By the way, Remco, in order to try to reduce the temperature ramp-up time of the catalytic cores, most manufacturers are now incorporating the cat converter core directloy into the exhaust manifold. My '05 Scion is like this.

There’ll often be a secondary, unmonitored cat converter (in the attached document called the “underfloor TWC”), but don;t be fooled into thinking that changing this will fix a converter code.

Tell us what the code(s) are, most parts stores will read them for free.

Also which engine do you have? Are you in California?


You cannot purchase a used catalytic converter from a recycling yard. It violates EPA regulations and each violation can result in fines of up to $20,000.

However, you are correct about the catalytic converter being warranted for 8 years/80,000 miles.


I think cig was saying most cats last the life of the vehicle…

We have a v6… I am in manhattan

Then lists both the front and rear cats, about $600 total (plus shipping), for the V6. An independent shop would charge more for the parts, but including labor it should less than $2,000, I’d think. But first thing is to make sure if it’s the cats or something else, like an O2 sensor.

The rear oxygen sensor is what is generating the “failed cat” code. I would change that first. MUCH cheaper.

@Tester, did you read the whole sentence? And then the rest of the comment? I did not say to go to a scrapyard to buy a converter. I was saying “I’ll bet your converter isn’t bad.”

So if the statement was vague - that was what I was saying.

To me, you made the impression that a used converter could be had from an auto recycler.

Sorry for the misinterpretation.


I’ll share the bad since it was apparently ambiguous. Sometimes I can’t get far enough outside my own head - going back to edit the original so that the OP does not get the wrong impression.

As others have said, there is no sensor in the cat to determin if its “bad”. What happens is your o2 sensor infront of the cat and the o2 sensor after the cat, both mesure airflow. If the difference between the two gets two large, it throws a code. It is possible the cat is clogged, however it is far more likley one of the o2 sensors is bad, and just not reading right.

Also a used cat even a bad one is worth a good deal of money for scrap metal. At least $100 per cat, and probably more in your case. So ask for the old one back, or for a credit to be issued to you. Remember you own it.

With all this said, if it turns out to actually be a bad cat, and since you just passed inspection. My advise is to keep driving it and see if it gets worse. $6000 buys a whole lot of duct tape to cover the light with. As a wise man named “red green” once said, “if you can’t fix it. Duct it”. LoL.

Mark me down as a second vote for taking the vehicle elsewhere, like to a muffler shop.

Recently my brother couldn’t pass inspection due to a Check Engine light that was due to emmissions. He had two places confirm his catalytic converter was in fact bad, and one place (“trusted” mechanic, unfortunately) quoted him over $1300 to replace the CC, saying it was an “OEM dealer-only item”. I called BS, and told my brother to take the car to a muffler shop (not Midas, etc.). $300 later… he was out the door with a dark Check Engine light, generic converter, and emissions sticker. And he won’t be doing any more business with the formerly trusted mechanic.

Good luck.