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Catalytic converter replacement estimate $5600! For Jetta TDI

I have a 2009 VW Jetta TDI. The CEL has been going on and off for a few weeks so I took it to the dealer. Holy guacamole! They priced out replacing the catalytic converter at $5600 just for the parts. This price is 1/4 what I paid for the car when I bought it. I am a retired widow and I bought a diesel so I could keep it for many years. I don’t know who to trust or I would take it to a non-VW dealer independent shop. Is Midas or Meineke a decent place to get a better price and still get a good result. I’ve been trying to research this on the web but a lot of the posters comment that the CEL will permanently stay on if I go with a non-OEM part. Help!

Whoa, wait a minute. First of all. How did they determine the cat is bad? What code? Because it may be a faulty oxygen sensor, which is only a few hundred bucks, not a faulty cat.

Probably they found a P0420 code, which has several possible causes, not just a faulty cat:

Most likely the downstream oxygen sensor is faulty. That’s what senses how well the cat is working. When that sensor fails, it incorrectly tells the computer that the cat isn’t working.

Ask them how they ruled out all the other possible causes: faulty downstream oxygen sensor, faulty sensor circuit, etc. Because they probably didn’t. They saw the code and jumped to the mistaken conclusion that they need to sell you a (ridiculously overpriced) catalytic converter.

Go elsewhere to a recommended mechanic and get a proper diagnosis. And no, Meineke or Midas are NOT recommended. Go to the “Mechanics Files” on this website and find a recommended local mechanic in your area.

I agree with @jesmed1 because going to the dealer for maintenance is never a good idea. Odds are that your cat is OK. Asking $5600 for a catalytic converter is highway robbery.

I don’t know much about VW diesels or their catalytic converters but out of curiosity I looked one up on and they list one for $256 for the 1.9 engine. $5600?

Am I the only one who saw the word “diesel” in her post? Not just any mechanic can work on this, you need a diesel mechanic. Even the dealer may not have a certified diesel mechanic.

I’d go back to the dealer and ask to see the certifications of the person who made the diagnosis to see if they were even qualified, then ask to talk to this person to see if they did in fact do the analysis. Ask to see the actual code, BTW, the code might be listed on the written estimate they gave you, if not they may be in violation of corporate policy.

Did you pay a diagnostic fee at the dealer? If you didn’t, you should have, but only of they have a certified diesel mechanic. Don’t accept a certificate from the factory school if it does not specify diesel.

You may be able to get some help from a shop that repairs diesel trucks, but diesel trucks may not have all the same smog devices on them that a car is required to have, but it would be worth a try.

BTW, once you get this fixed, sell or trade the car ASAP. A diesel powered vehicle is not a good vehicle for most retired people, they don’t drive them enough. Diesels need to be driven a lot in order to cover the high cost of maintenance they require. If you don’t drive at least 30k miles per year, you will be much better off with a gas powered vehicle.

For longevity of a vehicle that is drive 15k miles per year or less, a Toyota, Honda, Nissan (Altima only) or Subaru would be a much better choice. I had my last Honda for 17 years and would still be driving it if my wife hadn’t lost range of motion in one of her legs. Had to get a Subaru so she can get in and out of it easily.

One more thing, if your dealer can’t prove they have a qualified diesel mechanic on staff, check for other dealers in your area to see if any of them have a certified diesel mechanic. If you are lucky, you might find a local independent mechanic who has extensive diesel experience in their past.

Yes, I saw the word “diesel” in her post, and I assumed that a “diesel” mechanic would have looked at it. What VW dealership wouldn’t have a diesel mechanic? They sell, and presumably repair, their own diesel cars.

But yes, keith is correct, if you do go to an independent mechanic, make sure he has “diesel” experience.

Having said that, there’s no big difference between gas and diesels on this issue. They both have catalytic converters and oxygen sensors, and it’s still likely that it’s a faulty oxygen sensor, not a faulty cat.

The emissions system, including the CAT are supposed to be warrantied for 8 years or 80k miles. VW will have to replace it for free if you fall into these parameters.

I think that $5600 is just crazy…even if it’s for a diesel.

Look at the Mechanic’s files on this site for a local mechanic. If you can’t find one, ask around with family, friends, and co-workers for recommendations. If you hear a name often give them a call. If they are not experienced diesel mechanic’s ask for a recommendation.

If rockauto’s cat is $256, I’d expect to pay $500-$600 parts and labor, but that’s just a guess.


Wow! Ask me again why I don’t trust dealerships.

Federal Warranty is FREE! The emissions system, including the CAT are supposed to be warrantied for 8 years or 80k miles. VW will have to replace it for free if you fall into these parameters.

If you are not subject to emissions testing as a prerequisite for registration renewal you can defer this repair indefinitely…It does not effect the operation of the car. How many miles on the car? The converter has it’s own extended warranty and the dealer certainly knows this…

this may even fall into the fraud category

I’d like to see everything that the dealer said they were going to do.

Also, which engine does it have? Rockauto lists 3 different diesels.

Looking for at factory exhaust prices the front manifold assembly is listed at $2800 and the converter listed at $688. Some manufactures use 2 converters, one in the manifold and one behind it. Depending on what state you are in a non factory converter may not work. California and New York are the worst. Do you know the date of first use? Being a 2009 you may be out of warranty by time. Still the price seems high even using factory parts if you have the estimate could you post the parts and labor breakdown?

It could be that there’s more to that price than has been related and that if the details were present it might put a different light on it.

I remember a guy going ballistic one time over the price on a factory new transmission to replace the one in his Subaru that died a few months out of warranty and through no fault of the car owner.
The price was 5000 bucks. The first thought in most peoples minds would be a gouging, thieving car dealer who is just stiffing the consumer.

The dealer COST on that transmission was just a few dollars under 4000 so the perspective changes a bit once that is factored in.
High price? Of course it is but buying it at 4 grand and selling it at 2 grand will not work very long as a business model.

I know emissions technology has changed but in the past diesels did not use a catalytic converter as part of their emissions controls…I suppose the new ones that use DEF have some sort of converter but I thought the VW TDI cars escaped needing DEF to pass emissions…

There is no such thing as a recent Diesel vehicle without thousands of dollars of emissions equipment

Those days are long gone

No DEF in the Jetta. But at least one of the 3 diesel engines listed has a cat.

Federal law states 8 years or 80k miles on emissions. My friend had 79k on his Chevy and the dealer replaced his cat for free.