Cheapo catalytic converters OK?

Hi all,

A replacement catalytic converter would cost me either $1200 from a dealer installed, or a generic one might be $400.
Are the cheaper ones any good?


Generic is fine as long as it’s a “direct fit”. More correctly, it’d be called an “aftermarket OEM replacement”.

Jury-rigging whatever is in stock that’s close physically, a true “generic” installation, is NOT a good idea. It’ll cause you nothing but false codes and problems. Midas installs “generics”. Good shops install “afftermarket OEM replacements”. Dealers also install aftermarket OEM replacements, but at two or three times the cost.

Tom and ray had a topic on the radio last weekend about the same question. The car was a subaru, and the fit and performance (ie extinguish cel) failed. Check other experiences for your model of car.

Also be aware some states I think have specific emissions requirements on the cat specifications which are allowed for the make/model. If you live in a state with strict emissions standards (like CA, NY, etc) be sure to verify the one you intend to use is allowed. Otherwise, whether it works or not, you may not pass emissions testing and won’t be able to register your car.

The generic one might be ok, if you get the shop installing it to guarantee your vehicle will pass emission test and not set any codes, it’ll be just fine. The job the cat does is not rocket science, it simply has to burn off the bad stuff coming from your motor, which if your motor is properly tuned up, should be minimal.

The cat went out in an old Grand wagonner I had, and in my sisters saturn. BOTH were replaced with generic, welded on units and both cars worked perfectly for years afterwords and passed NJ emmissions every time with no issues… Now they are not as good as OEM I dont want to say they are, but on a well running car they are good enough…

If you want proof they are not as good as OEM, I can get 100-150 for a factory cat in scrap alone… A generic one I am lucky to get $30 in scrap… PS Ask to keep your cat, and bring it in your self to a metal recylcing center so you can collect your $100+ on it.

I’d first want to make absolutely sure the cat’s the problem, lots of issues trigger codes related to the cat, but are caused by something else like a bad oxygen sensor. But if it’s a bad cat, I would absolutely feel fine buying an aftermarket ‘direct fit’ cat. See what’s available at Rockauto. Many only state not legal for use in CA.

I used 2 welded in units (duel exhaust) on a '76 Linclon Mark !V that I used to own and had no trouble with emissions testing in NC.

Get a guarantee from the installer that it will pass the next two emissions tests…That’s what you are spending your money for, right?