Catalytic converters

Is there any correlation between the number of exhaust pipes and the number of catalytic converters on a car? My neighbor has a VW(sorry don’t know year or model) with 2 exhaust pipes. When his check engine light came on he took the car to the mechanic. He was told by his mechanic he has to have both converters replaced, one for each exhaust pipe. I think I read someplace some cars have pre-catalytic converters and catalytic converters. Could that be what this mechanic is talking about? Thanks for any insight.

Either way…you can have a converter on each pipe, or a “Y” after the converter (or even dual outputs on the converter itself). Depends on the car, year, make, model, and engine. Without all those details, any answer would be a guess.

In addition some cars have primary cat converters and secondary cat converters, only the primary being monitored. As Chassios said, it’s impossible to guess without more details.

It’s Possible, But Keep In Mind That Converters Are Frequently Blamed For Problems They’re Not Causing And Frquently Replaced At Considerable Expense And The Original Problem(s) Continue.

The mechanic could be correct, however . . .
“Mechanic” is sometimes a more vague term than “both converters”. I’d have my friend get some type of guarantee from the mechanic that the converters will solve the problem(s) or they will be removed and no charge will be assessed and see if the diagnosis is still absolute.

Some mechanics can be fooled. Often a problem, sometimes minor and sometimes major, can make it seem that a converter is failing or has failed when that’s not the case. Have the friend proceed with caution.

Bring more information (symptoms, specific diagnostic trouble codes, etcetera) and the folks here will offer better suggestions.


If the car has under 80,000 miles and is under 8? years old, the manufacturer must provide the catalytic converter free. Not 100% sure about the 8 years, could be more or less. Your neighbor needs to check his emission control system warranty.

Happened to me when my 98 Honda Accord had 72,000 miles. Check engine light came on, Honda service checked it out and told me it needed a new cat for $1000. I looked at my warranty and told him “I’ll take the free catalytic converter”. He was surprised, acted like no one had ever questioned him on this. I showed him the words in the book and he agreed.

That’s good advice but it doesn’t answer the basic qiestion. Do you know how many catalytic converters a VW has? This a station wagon.

Thank you all for your thoughtful comments and suggestions. I’ll ask my neighbor about the specific problems he is having and will report back with model, age, mileage of the VW.

Without year, model, or engine we can’t tell you. Late model VWs have from one to four catalytic converters.

Re: warranty, catalytic converters are warranteed, by Federal mandate, for 8 years/80,000 miles against defects, not including damage or abuse.