'99 Honda Accord LEV catalytic converter - two quotes, $330 and $1000 - why the difference?

Our check engine light is on, and we had it checked out by the dealership and an independent garage - both told us that the catalytic converter was “bad.” The dealership quoted us about $1000 to replace the catalytic converter, and the independent garage quoted us about $350. I was there when the independent garage called the parts store and asked for a price for an “OEM direct fit” catalytic converter for our car - am I right to assume that this would be a Honda part? If so, why the big difference between the dealer and the independent garage?

Since our car is an LEV, does it require a special catalytic converter? We live in Colorado, so if there is no mechanical reason for needing a specific catalytic converter that would explain the price difference between the dealer and the other shop, we would rather go with the cheaper option of course.

Honda doesn’t manufacture it’s own catalytic converters. They purchase them from a supplier. So the converter from the parts store is probably the same converter the dealer was going to install.

Why the difference in price? Dealer prices are often times higher than independent shops prices. And if it’s a direct fit converter it’s the right one for the vehicle.


It depends on if “OEM direct fit” means just that it is exactly the same dimensions as the OEM original so it will fit under your car w/out problem, or does it mean it both fits and meets the functional emissions specs of the OEM original? It’s possible to build a cat that will physically fit , but won’t be able to remove the smog as well as the OEM version.

Maybe a few more questions to the shops are in order before deciding.

In any event, if I had a 99 Accord, I wouldn’t use a dealer for this. Dealers are great for warranty work on newer cars and drive-ability problems on older cars, but for this, using a dealer would probably just result a bigger bill compared to a good inde shop. If you can be sure you are comparing apples to apples, use the shop that has the lowest bidder.

Direct fit means the cat will “bolt right in” without cutting or welding

You should not automatically assume it’s the same quality as the cat you’ll get at the dealer.

I’ve seen plenty of aftermarket cats and exhaust components.

You pay less

You get less

Sometimes the aftermarket quality is very high

But not always

The dealer has to buy those OEM parts from Honda Motor Company and the cost to the dealer may be more than the retail price at any of the local parts houses.

Aftermarket converters have less of the precious metals (platinum & palladium) than OEM, so they are less durable.
I’ve also heard that scrap dealers don’t buy old aftermarket converters because there’s not enough precious metals left to make it worthwhile.