Durability of Catalytic Converters

Our car was rear-ended in stalled traffic earlier this week. The bumper and right wheel well took most of the beating. We could see that the tailpipe seemed to be pushed forward. I could see distortion in the ‘ess’ in the tailpipe before it joins the muffler. The insurance adjuster said they’ll replace the exhaust components after the catalytic converter. He said that they did not see obvious damage to the outside of the catcon unit and that the catalytic substrate is pretty durable. However, the subtrate is a ceramic base! What’s the chance that the shock of the collision cracked this substrate? Obviously, the insurance guy would prefer not to have to replace such an expensive component.

More likely damage would be to the sheetmetal container, I would think. If it’s OK, and no ‘check engine light’ come on, I think it is OK. Ceramic can be very strong.

As long as the check engine light behaves, the converter is functioning properly and the adjuster is on solid ground…Don’t worry about it…Worry about frame damage to that RR corner instead…

They’re not going to pay for a replacement unless physical or functional damage can be demonstrated. The fact that something CAN be damaged does not mean it WAS. If upon getting the car back repaired you experience any operational problems at all. contact your insurance adjuster immediately and they should repoen the claim and adjust the settlement to allow the problem (whatever it is) to be corrected.

I have replaced plenty of exhaust systems damaged by collisions and have never, ever replaced a catalytic converter for this reason. The tailpipe will fold up long before any damage can be done to the catalytic converter, and trust me, you would much rather have the original one than an aftermarket unit they would install if you talked them into it. The factory one is much, much better made and less likely to cause problems than an aftermarket unit, collision or not. If you’re really worried about it, ask the technician replacing the exhaust system to peer into the converter while the exhaust system is off to see if the substrate is cracked. The odds of it being cracked are pretty much nil.

Given the above responses, its probably not worth the trouble. But between an experienced exhaust system mechanic and an experienced auto tech, you can find out for sure whether your cat suffered damage. Whether you can convince the insurance company is another story.