I have to get a new catalytic converter for my 1997 Dodge Ram 1500 and I’m seeing prices (uninstalled) anywhere from $200-$400. I’m trying to get a ballpark estimate of what it’s going to cost me to get one installed. I’ve heard anything from $400 to over $1000.
There are different flavors of catalytic converters. There’s the OEM type, aftermarket direct fit type, and the universal type. With the OEM/aftermarket direct fit types these are just bolted into place, and are more expensive. The universal types require cutting out the old catalytic converter and either clamping or welding in the new converter. So depending on which type is installed will dictate the price.
So what’s the problem? You got estimates for parts and estimates for labor. You may choose the cheapest or you may go for quality. Is there still something you need to help you with the decision?
I didn’t get an estimate for the labor, this is just what I picked up from looking around the web at what other people were quoted for different vehicles. I want to be prepared when I go get estimates so I know what’s fair or if someone is trying to rip me off. Also, the parts estimate cost is from an auto parts store. If I bring my truck in to get it done, the mechanic is going to tack on a little - maybe a lot - extra for the part.
Your approach - internet pricing of parts - is not totally realistic. When you contact the garage for an estimate, they will not shop around for a bargain cat for you. Whether you go to Dodge, Midas, or Joe’s Garage, the service manager will simply look up the price of the part they always get from their standard supplier. Then they consult the flat rate manual for labor charges. Even an honest shop will give you a pricey estimate and still be totally fair.
If you are determined to save as much money as possible, order a cheap cat from wherever. Then try to find a mechanic willing to install it for you. Some will, some won’t. The mechanics face warranty issues. I used this method for my Dodge sedan and the total expenditure was something like $170, parts & labor.
But I repeat, higher repair estimates do not necessarily imply ripoff.
I have a 1992 Buick Century that recently neeeded a CC. It costed me $540 installed.
I bought a Walker direct fit from NAPA for about $150. Put it on myself so that’s what it cost.
Very few car owners seem to have a “regular” shop to service their vehicles. That’s such a shame. Regular customers at good shops usually get special attention. The shop goes that EXTRA MILE for regular customers. Always shopping for bargains means you often get the ABSOLUTE LEAST that you bargained for.
Of course, it is wise to be aware of competitor’s prices and the quality and mark-up on parts.
Couldn’t agree with you more. I’d like to find a regular mechanic but I’m never sure about what makes a mechanic good. I do all the regular maintenance myself, oil changes, plugs, wires, belts, etc., and have even done some more complex jobs like water pump and alternator. Thank God I have had very few major issues. I’ve had the transmission replaced, but that’s about it. Part of the problem is that I never know whether I’m getting an honest assessment. I’m not one of these people who, like SteveF implies, thinks that mechanics are cheats, but lets face it, there ARE those guys out there who DO try to take advantage of those less knowledgable, and I think, for me at least, the embarrassment of being taken outweighs any monetary loss I might suffer. Any tips on finding a reliable “regular” mechanic?
There are a great many issues to consider when determining a good mechanic. And even among the good ones finding one that suits your particular philosophy is important. There is a great range of thinking on issues of preventive maintenance vs don’t fix it if it ain’t broke, domestic vs import, high performance vs family sedans, leading edge vs proven technology. Ask around, though. Look at a prospective shop’s lot to see what is being worked on and how timely cars arrive and leave. Look for a shop that is too busy to keep the work areas spotless but there should never be oil spills or junk parts or tools left in the floor. All old parts should be set aside for inspection when the owner arrives and bills should be written plainly, itemizing all parts and labor. And mechanics make mistakes, even the best. But they don’t expect to profit from the mistakes.
Take into consideration how well a person does in regards to accepting responsibility for a mistake or error when classifying him as a “good” mechanic.