Catalytic Converter?



My mother owns a 1997 Oldsmobille Achieva. Over the past several years, the “check engine light” has come on. She has had several diagnostics done on the car and no one could diagnose the problem. The car occassionally will stall, even w/out the check engine light on. At last year’s smog check, she was told that she needed a new catalytic converter, but it wouldn’t be worth getting it fixed because it would cost more than the car. We are at a loss as to what to do with this car. Money, of course, is an issue and we would prefer that the car continue to run, since buying even a used one would create some difficulties. What are our options for solving this problem or replacing this car? And, if we are somehow able to find a good used car, what is the easiest way to get rid of this one? Thx.


I’d look into an aftermarket catalytic converter. They can be much cheaper than the dealer replacement. Find a good exhaust shop (not a chain) and ask what it would cost. There is no way this should cost more than the car.


You have to look at how the decision was made that the catalytic converter is bad. The engine check light codes are from the engine computer. It makes its decision from the inputs from the oxygen sensors in front of and after the catalytic converter. What if ITS data (inputs) from the oxygen sensors are in error? Sitting in the exhaust stream, the oxygen sensors take a beating. Their output values change, especially, after 10 years. I would try a new set of oxygen sensors and a good tuneup (spark plugs and wires, air filter, pcv valve) and get a free scan of the check engine light at Auto Zone or other auto parts store.


Thanks so much for the info. I feel a slight sense of relief about having a place to start. I’ll look into getting this taken care of. I hope it works!