Replace catalytic converter on '97 Camry or buy a new car?

My 1997 Camry, which has $105K miles on it, needs a catalytic converter and a new trunk lock.

Should I invest the$1500 to get my Camry fixed and drive it another 100K miles or get a new car?


You should quit taking it to the dealership, or wherever it is they’re overcharging you at, and get it fixed for half that at an independant exhaust shop for the convertor and a locksmith for the trunk lock. Your Camry should be relatively trouble free up to 200k at least if it’s well maintained and consider what a new car would cost you-- I’d guess it’s more than 1500 bucks.

That does seem very high my cat converter for my gm was $475 but covered by warranty

It is absurd to consider buying a new car simply because your current car needs a few simple repairs. If you are still pleased with your Camry, then by all means get it fixed and keep driving it. An independent shop will charge you much less for the cat converter than the dealership. The new lock? You can replace it yourself.

I would be very suspicious of this diagnosis unless you have been driving around for two years with the check engine light on.

You really need to find another mechanic. A good muffler shop can replace the cat for far less. And for an 11 year old car, I’d try that first. The trunk lock should similarly be replaced cheaper. A good auto locksmith can maybe even fix the one you have.

An aftermarket converter can be less than $100 without pipes; less than $500 with pipes. I note that the 6-cyl Camry has a front and rear converter. Does this car have two or is there more than one position for it? BTW, the price information is to help you price labor. If you google “catalytic converters” you will find pricing informantion.

So is it determined for a fact that the car needs a converter? Any Check Engine Light on? What codes are present?

Before spending anything why not drop by a local AutoZone, Advance Auto, Checkers, etc. and have them pull the codes if you do not know them.
They will do this for you free. Post any results back here for discussion.

If you need a converter this could be repaired for much less using aftermarket parts.
If the price quote is from a dealer I would probably disagree that you’re being gouged based on a high price. One simply cannot compare the wholesale cost and over the counter price of a factory OEM converter to the wholesale/retail price of an aftermarket one.
It’s comparing apples to oranges. The price the dealer is having to pay for the converter is way above what the aftermarket one sells for.

In spite of the perception, the factory is not dumping parts off at the dealer parts dept. on the cheap.

You should spend $350 to get it fixed with aftermarket parts from an independent exhaust shop. In some places you could get all the work done for less than $300. In any case, keep the car.