Catalytic Converter-- Honda Accord

I have a 1996 Honda Accord. The check engine light came on two days ago, and my mechanic said it was the catalytic converter and that it needed to be replaced. He quoted me a price of near $900, saying that the factory converters (which they would order) have the rarer metals. The cheap ones (which you can buy on your own for $150) don’t actually fix the problem. Is this true? Should I spend the money for the factory converter or should I buy it myself cheap and try to save money?

I’ve never heard of anyone having a problem with the aftermarket converters. As for the precious metals…Well your mechanic is wrong…In order for a catalytic converter to work (and be certified by the EPA) it MUST have the same precious metals.

Also the problem may NOT be the catalytic converter. It may just be a O2 sensor…in fact it probably is the O2 sensor.

There is no code that says “catalytic converter failed.” Quite often replacing an oxygen sensor, or two, will fix the cat problem. You don’t want to spend $900 for nothing, do you? Make sure.

The factory cats don’t have “rarer” metals in them. All catalytic converters have the same metals. They wouldn’t work without them.

Having said that, there has to be some difference between a $900 dollar cat and a $150 cat. I’d say go factory or at least find something in between. Is the $150 cat a “universal fit?”

I appreciate the feedback so far-- thank you! How do I find out if it is an O2 sensor or really the catalytic converter? Do I need to take it to another mechanic?

The $150 cat is sold on different websites and certain ones fit certain models of the Accord… So I just have to find the one that fits my particular car (I assume) and get it if I go that route.

I understand that you probably pay for what you get, so I’m hesitant to buy the cheaper one if there will be problems later. However, I don’t just want to throw my money away, either. Not sure what the next step is…

On my 1996 Toyota Tercel, I got the error code that told me that the CAT efficiency was too low. The problem ended up being the CAT itself. I installed an aftermarket universal fit CAT for about $150 and it has worked fine for the last 25K miles.

watch out peopl will tell you anything to get to cut ur converter go cheap go and order it from advance auto parts watch them cut it off and keep ur old one its worh 150.00 as scrap.

Make mine another vote for an aftermarket converter…if it turns out to be that and not the oxygen sensor (see Mike’s post…and know that the signal from the sensor can be looked at easily on a scope to be sure).

All converters have the substrates coated with platinum-palladium, a rare mmetal in the rhodium family. Rhodium itself works a bit better but is just plain cost-prohibitive.

My experience is that the cheap units last indefinitely.

Be sure you get a “direct fit” aftermarket replacement. It prevents the butchering that often is the result of a “universal” replacement.

“watch out peopl will tell you anything to get to cut ur converter go cheap go and order it from advance auto parts watch them cut it off and keep ur old one its worh 150.00 as scrap.”

Simply eloquent!

I hope you are under 150k miles. If so good news and head to the dealer and have it fixed on Honda’s dime. My wife got a cat converter and two O2 sensors on Honda’s dime + spark plugs, cap, and wires all free at 148k. She ignored a CEL for a year or so and then the car started to die randomly.

Honda service bulletin 98-081 March 18 2003

95-Accord V6 All

96 Models Except Passports - All

97 Models Except Passports - All

EPA, C.A.R.B. claim OBD system is not sensitive enough to detect some engine
misfires. In an effort to resolve this issue, America Honda Extended
Emissions warranty to 14 Years, 150,000 Miles

1… File a claim if:
1… The MIL is on and the cause is an emission related component
2… The vehicle fails a emissions test and requires an emissions repair
3… Any emissions related component fails

2… Additional services:
1… 50,000-75,000 miles

  1. Inspect OBD system follow the service manual procedure to retrieve
    DTC set then replace the effected parts

  2. This inspection and any parts replacement are of no charge to the

2… 75,000-150,000 miles

  1. Inspect OBD system again. Replace any parts that have caused a DTC
    to set

  2. Replace the distributor cap, rotor and ignition wires and spark

  3. Change the oil and filter

All of the above services are free of charge to the owner

You must use Honda parts and fluid for this service.

Disclaimer: Skilled technicians only, not do it yourselfers “and you should
not assume this bulletin applies to your vehicle…”

Stephen W. Hansen
ASE Certified Master Automobile Technician
ASE Automobile Advanced Engine Performance
ASE Undercar Specialist