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Thermostat and Catalytic Converter need to be replaced Kia Sportage 2001 186K-is it worth it?

Help! I recently got my brakes redone and a new battery. Now it’s time for DMV renewal check engine light is on. Mechanic says both thermostat and catalytic converter need to be replaced. He says the cost of parts and labor are more than the value of the car. I recently looked up catalytic converters for this make model- found some as low as $196. Not sure how much labor will be but seems a lot better than figuring out a car payment- I have no budget for a new car, used or leased. He said i migt find a muffler shop who could do it. Any thoughts on whether it’s worth it?


Some catalytic converters are called universal catalytic converters.

This means they’re designed to fit certain vehicles depending on their engine size.

This usually means that the universal catalytic converter doesn’t come with the pipes/flanges that the OEM catalytic converter came with.

But this isn’t a problem.

All you do is cut off the pipes/flanges from the original catalytic converter, and weld them to the universal catalytic converter.

I’ve installed many universal catalytic converters with no problems.


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It’s a financial decision like any other one. Figure what the cost of buying a new car will be compared to repairing this one. Include for the new car the price of course, and the increased insurance payments, and the increased property tax and registration fees. Subtract your estimate for the reduced maintenance costs while it is newish & remains under warranty. There’s a cash flow consideration too, which varies depending on whether you intend to pay for the new car all at once or over time. Only you can make those calculations and decide, b/c only you know your own financial situation and what you expect it to be over the next 5 years. Most middle class families in that situation living on a budget would decide to go ahead the repair the Kia I’d guess. Whether the repair cost is more or less than the Kia would bring as a used car for sale is not relevant.

I should mention that the states have their own rules about cats. Some states may not allow you to install a cat that other states would allow. Double check on that before deciding on a cat source.

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[quote=“GeorgeSanJose, post:3, topic:102397, full:true”]I should mention that the states have their own rules about cats. Some states may not allow you to install a cat that other states would allow. Double check on that before deciding on a cat source.
[/quote] @GeorgeSanJose makes a good point here. Where are you located?

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Thanks so much. I think the mechanic kind of took the wind out of my sails-
but financially I am in no position to be taking on car payments for a used
car or pursuing lease options and a new car is absolutley out of the
question. I wanted to be sure it wasn’t ludicrous to pursue the idea. I
will check out the universal cat option and try to find a decent muffler
shop that can do the welding etc. I think that was the other issue with my
current mechanic- that his shop can’t do that work.

Thanks all! Feeling less doomed.

looks to be a tough call for “universal fit” cat to be welded into such a tight spot

you might want to go for “direct fit” aftermarket part, it will be faster and same price if not cheaper once you consider welding job

make sure replacement part includes warranty not only for “structural integrity”, but for “catalyst performance” as well


Looks quite a zoo:,2001,sportage,2.0l+l4,1434281,exhaust+&+emission,catalytic+converter,5808

depending on transmission and options, it uses number of different cats

which one is damaged, front or rear ?

front looks to be quite a challenge to replace with “universal fit”, nad likely it is the one under questions

rear one is unlikely to be monitored by sensors, so unless it is restriced, it would not throw any OBD codes

What you can sell the car for sometimes doesn’t matter much. I had a 1992 Plymouth Minivan with 100,000 miles on it in 1999. The Chrysler dealer offered me $200 in trade on a newer Chrysler minivan. I told him the newer one was pretty nice for $10,000 but the 92 was such a raving bargain for $200 that I was sticking with that. I drove it 2 more years and my son commuter 50 miles round trip to work for 3 more years. The car was junked because of rust with 170,000 miles on it.

Cat’s don’t last forever, but many last well more than 186K. The one on my Corolla is over 200K and still doing its job. The reason I mention this is b/c when a cat fails, it makes sense to ask the shop to do some minor investigative work what might have caused it to fail. Usually it is a problem with the fuel/air mixture ; either that or the engine is burning oil for some reason. So it makes sense to at least read out all the diagnostic codes and correct whatever is causing them (if it is related to emissions, which it usually is), check the pcv system is working, make sure the engine air filter, spark plugs, coils, and wires (& distributor cap/rotor if equipped) are in good condition, all as part of a cat replacement. Otherwise the new cat might be quickly killed off by the same problem. Spending $100 to improve the odds you won’t incur yet again the cost of another cat is probably a good investment.

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Thank you! Good to know.


Before you spend a lot of money, get a second opinion on that cat. It could be that all you need is some sensor replacements.

There have been THOUSANDS of catalytic converters replaced when all that was actually bad was a O2 sensor. Midas and a few other national muffler shops were found guilty of this. The indicator that a cat is bad is the readings from the O2 sensors. However many times O2 sensors are the culprit and give off false readings. But a repair shop makes a lot more money replacing a cat then an O2 sensor. And many unscrupulous shops just replace the O2 sensor but charge you for a new Cat. A bad O2 sensor is highly more likely then a bad cat…get a second opinion.

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I’d change the thermostat first. They’re inexpensive.
Who knows, that might be enough to make the cat code go away.

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