Replace CAT converter or get rid of the car?


We have a 1998 Hyundai elantra. We took it to a car repair shop because the check engine light came on. They told us that we need to change the catalitic convertor ($900) and an O2 sensor ($300). We cannot afford those costs! The car is not worth much more than that (KBB value for fair & private party:$1665). I’m not sure if we can drive a car without those 2 things working properly (emissions test). So what should we do?

If we had to get rid of the car… will we be able to sell it as it is? Or give it as a trade in? Do we have any other choice?

Thanks for your advice.


Take it elsewhere for a second opinion. A bad downstream O2 sensor can erroneously indicate a bad cat converter.

If you have a friend with some tools you can change bothe with “direct fit” aftermarket components for about 1/3 of the price quoted. This is a simple mechanical task requiring limited technical knowledge.


A direct fit walker after market cat less then $200 O2 about $50 As long as its not California emissions


What is the Fed-mandated warranty period for emissions equipment?


What is the Fed-mandated warranty period for emissions equipment?


I would replace the O2 sensor and see if that solves the problem. It’s unusual for a catalytic converter to go bad unless the car has been driven for a LONG time with the check engine light on.

By the way, O2 sensors are not terribly expensive or difficult to replace, if you have the proper tools. Shop around for prices on this.


if “they” are the dealer, go to an independent mechanic. Dealers are always more expensive, and rarely better, than an independent.


8 years or 80k miles and it only applies to converters, ECMs, etc, not to most of the emissions equipment.
There are a few exceptions now and then in which it may go to a 100k. It seems to me that Chrysler was one of those exceptions on a few models.


The federal emissions warranty summary is here:

Read it carefully. It is not an unconditional warranty.


90,000 miles. I know because I had my converter replaced at 89,000 and the dealer said it was no charge. I asked about the $50 deductible on my extended warranty and he explained that up to 90,000 it is covered under federal emissions warranty and there is no deductible on that.


That does make interesting reading. The thing about enjoying the benefits of the federal mandated requirements SOUND good; but, there is an area where the manufacture could drive a truck through and deny coverage. That is, where the regulation states, “…proof of following maintenance schedules and instructions specified by the manufacturer…” could be an easy “out” for the manufacturer to NOT do the repairs, if one didn’t have all the records, etc., to prove one followed every requirement, one could be left out in the cold. In the real world, how many people get turned down by the manufacturer by this technicality?


How many miles on this car?? What state do you live in? As others have said, replace the 0two sensor and see what happens. If the car is operating normally, don’t worry too much about it until it’s time for your next emissions test.


Thanks for all your responses!
The car has more than 110K miles.
These last couple of days its been having problems going up the steep streets of Salt Lake City where we live. I wonder if this is a consequence of the O2 sensor & CAT failures.
The mechanic told me that apart from reading the code P0442 they did some sort of test and that is why they know that the CAT has a problem. Theysaid that it is not heating enough (?).


If you’re in Utah then you can buy aftermarket cats. JR’s Custom Muffler in Orem has competitive pricing and does good work (and I’m sure if you check around you can find other places that will also save you money). Like others have said, though, make sure it’s not just the O2 sensor.


The cat is bad. It is not under warranty. You will get to the point that the car will barely move because of excessive back pressure. The back pressure will also start to dammage other internal engine parts. You cannot sell the car with a bad cat due to EPA rules.It is much cheaper to replace the cat than buy another car.