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Repair or sell?

I have a 2000 Camry (4 cyl.) with only 100K on it (it was my mom’s car). It needs a new catalytic converter, which my mechanic said will cost about $1500 (aftermarket) or $2500 (oem). Overall, the car is in good shape - almost no rust at all, runs good, and as far as I know, no other major issues. I’m leaning toward getting it repaired since the car will probably run forever, but it is almost 20 years old. I know my mom changed the oil regularly, but no idea if she did any other maintenance through the years. I did have the timing chain done about 20K ago, a new flex pipe and a couple of other exhaust patches (it actually still has the original exhaust!)

Any advice on whether it’s worth spending the money on the repairs? Thanks

If it were my car, I would probably replace the cat assuming the car is in otherwise good shape mechanically (especially engine/transmission) and physically (especially the “almost no rust” you mention!). It might be worth taking the car to your mechanic and having them give it a thorough look over as if you were buying it used so you can get the best assessment for the shape the car is in right now.


I’m with @bravesfan314 on this, if the body is in good shape this car can last a long time. Figure out how many car payments the cat converter is and if the car lasts past that you are ahead of the game. It likely will last a lot longer.


For an expensive repair, you should consider getting another one or two opinions. Why does the mechanic say it needs a new catalytic converter? I’m not saying he is wrong, he may well be right on a 17 year old car. BTW, there is no timing chain on this car, it is a timing belt. If it had a chain it may not have needed replacing. The regular timing belt replacement is 90,000 miles or about 6 to 7 years. You have plenty of time before that must be done again. If it does need the catalytic converter, it is probably worth it because the car is in good condition. Where else can you find a car like that for $1500?

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I agree with the others, the car is worth replacing the exhaust - all of it, not just the cat. The $1500 price tag for even a total replacement job seems a bit high. Take it to at least one other place and call around to see if you can get a better deal. No need to use Toyota parts for a car this old. No need to use California certified parts (more expensive) unless you live there.

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I think maybe talk to someone else. Rockauto has them for anywhere from a little under $200 to $300 depending on which one or how many you have. I think you have two. I used a Walker from Rock for my Buick and had no problems with it.

Get a second and third opinion because I doubt you need a new cat at 100k on a Camry. My 99 Corolla has the original cat at 300k miles and the car has seen 18 winters. Do you have any trouble codes or CEL?

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I’ve never had a Toyota that didn’t last at least 200,000 miles. My old Toyota pickup lasted 338,000 when it got hit, totaling it. I had given it to my daughter at the same time I gave a Camry with 242,000 miles to my son. Both were running reliably. My current car, a Scion tC with a Camry engine, has 248,000 on it now and still runs great.

Get the cat changed. You have many, many miles of good use left on the Camry.

Assuming the cat is truly bad . . . I hope the mechanic can back up his diagnosis with oxygen sensor waveforms and/or emissions results from the 5-gas analyzer . . . $1500 seems high

I don’t know exactly what brands he’s looking at, but eastern catalytic and walker make direct-fit cats with reasonable prices

A second opinion . . . along with a second quote . . . is certainly in order

Toyotas are generally quite reliable, providing they’ve been maintained reasonably well. But it is at the age and mileage when things WILL start to wear out

Providing the car itself has been well maintained and is currently in good shape, I believe it deserves a cat. The car should continue to serve its purpose for several more years

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Maybe not. In this engine the cat converter is part of the exhaust manifold assembly. While this arrangement heats the catalyst up faster, reducing emissions, that advantage comes at a cost. Not only for parts, but in labor.




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That $1500 price seems a little high.

Here’s prices from RockAuto for the catalytic converter for your vehicle.,2000,camry,2.2l+l4,1364633,exhaust+&+emission,catalytic+converter,5808


I believe that is a genuine Toyota exploded view, with corresponding prices

That is why I suggested that OP get a second opinion, along with a second quote, for aftermarket parts

I looked at Rockauto, and even if the shop marks up an eastern catalytic or walker part, it should still come in well under $1500, including labor

Even if it costs $1500 to replace the cat, still seems like a good car to have. I’m assuming it isn’t possible to ask you mom about the prior maintenance. Still, it seems like a good one to me. It should have many more miles left in it. Good advice above to double check the cat actually needs replacing, somewhat unusual for a Camry cat to fail at 100 K. It’s easy to misdiagnose a cat problem. Also if it has failed, you have to find out why before installing a new cat, otherwise the new one will fail early too. Problems with misfiring or the air/fuel mixture are common reasons for a cat to fail. A lot of short 1-3 miles trips could be a reason too.

The only other concern I’d have with keeping this vehicle is if it has an automatic transmission. If so, have that given a good look-see, before popping for a cat. If the transmission is going south, a new cat might be enough to seal the “sell it” deal.

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If you live in California or NY, the only one at Rock Auto that is C.A.R.B. compliant is the Walker Manifold and Converter for $293.

Can’t agree with everyone else more. If you buy a new car. New insurance policy, payment, interest and depreciation in one year cost you more than a catylic converter right now. Worst scenario is that if the car gets damaged, the cost to repair is also higher than your car right now. You should stick with it.

Do you mean visible rust on the body? That may mean lots of rust underneath on structural components. Get it checked.

Thanks for all the feedback. It is showing a P0420 code (which keeps coming back after I clear it (with my ScanGauge). I will get a few more opinions before i get it fixed. And, yes, it does may sense to keep the car (even tho i find it very boring to drive!!)

From a strict financial standpoint, this car is worth less than $1,500, so the rational financial choice (if you can afford a replacement car) based on the math is to not spend more than the car is worth to fix it.

If it were my car, though, I’d probably fix it, because of the following calculation: Using an average car payment of $250/month, this car only has to last another six months before you break even on a $1,500 repair. If the car lasts longer than six months, you come out ahead on a $1,500 repair. If the car lasts another two years, your average monthly cost for the repair is only $62.50, assuming more repairs aren’t needed in the next two years.

Statement looks like a plea for someone to say" Trade it now and get something fun to drive".

boring car, 18yrs old. mom liked it, 10yrs ago. what is your budget after selling it to buy a newer car? something you might like to drive?