Replace cat converter: before or after inspection?

I’m asking this, hoping somebody has experience with PA emissions. (I seem to recall a fellow Commonwealth person here…)

A pickaxe left in the road wrecked the cat on my '94 F 150 recently. Currently, I have a test pipe where it used to be.

Now, obviously this will cause me to “fail visual” in my emissons test. The earliest I can take it is 4/1. The obvious thing is to put a cat on it ASAP, HOWEVER…

…there’s still a chance that I’d replace the cat, and fail the “sniffer” test. If I do, I have to fix the issue (or spend a fixed amount of money trying, whichever comes first).

So, would it be better to show up for testing BEFORE cat replacement? Obviously I’d fail, but that way, the cost of the cat would count towards the money cap. If I replace the cat first, would it count towards the cap or not (in the event I fail)?

I’m curious about this money cap rule you have in PA.
Would someone explain it?

In Georgia, there is an exemption to emissions for the year if you spend more than $700 trying to fix an emissions problem. I had a cousin that had to replace a transmission in her minivan. Once replaced, she kept getting a code for the crank sensor. It ran fine, but failed emissions. She tried having the sensor replaced, but the light kept coming on. She used the exemption for that year using the transmisson receipt, and traded it in before the next year.

In PA, only the Southern Region has a repair exemption, that requires 2 failed tests and at least $150 towards repair efforts. The Northern Region had no exemptions.

So, if I read that right, you fail the first test due to no cat, get cat replaced, and can get the exemption if the cat doesn’t work for the second test. But, you’re on your own next year.

<@BustedKnuckels: Yeah, that was my plan.

The cap on emissions means that you can be forced to spend an unlimited amount of money trying to fix it. Make a good-faith effort, and if $150 doesn’t solve it, you can get an exemption that year. Exemptions also for new car and <5,000 mi/yr.

Am I wrong? There is a federal law on taking out a cat. You can’t do that nor can anybody else so replace the cat before getting it inspected.

I agree with Bing…The missing CAT will not be counted towards any repair limit…You are going to have to replace that regardless of any other repairs needed, and it’s cost will not be counted towards any repair limit…

@ Bing, Caddyman: but the cat was never “removed” by yours truly, or any mechanic. It was “removed” by road debris and rendered permanently kaput by same. All “I” ever did was temporarily fill the gaping hole in the exhaust with a test pipe ('cause it’d be awfully loud, otherwise) until funds and free time converge to replace it.

Count towards the cap or no, there’s no federal offense, as there was no malicious intent involved in the removal (unless you’re implying I aimed for the pickaxe that mashed the cat).

Not to beat up on you meanjoe but the reason the cat is gone is irrelevant. It’s a federal offence to knowingly operate a motor vehicle minus the converter. All the excuses in the world don’t change that .
You would never get to the testing stage of the emissions test and I’m not sure of your state law but here in Ontario money spent to replace the federally mandated converter wouldn’t count towards emissions repair. If it was me, I’d get a junky cheap cat from the wreckers and put that on. After failure then a replacement converter would count towards the exemption.

I don’t think the law cares about motivation or the reason for the removal, only the fact that it isn’t present and in working order as required. The intent of the owner is immaterial.

It is technically a federal offense, but EPA officers will not be knocking on your door. The testing facility here in GA will simply report that the cat is missing or removed, and the drive test not performed. And you will be advised to get a cat installed. I don’t know about PA, but GA would count that as a ‘test’ since it technically failed a visual inspection. They do that for all missing emissions equipment, including the gas cap. Reporting it to the State database prevents the vehicle from getting a State tag until the vehicle passes the visual inspection, even in non-emissions testing counties.

before you replace the cat make sure everthing else is in good working order then replace the cat this way you wont cut the life short on the new cat and save the recipts for all work done like if you had to replace an o2 sensor or something else like that

Glad I don’t live in an area that does emissions testing…

Glad I don’t live in an area that has choking fumes…

The intent malicious intent was when you decided to replace the missing cat with a “test pipe” instead of the proper part. Thet are not even sold in my state anymore.