This is especially bad timing since you were planning on putting your car on the market. But, how much will a damaged catalytic converter affect its value? Should you repair it before selling it? Will it be worth it to sell it as-is?

To get a better idea about how a broken catalytic converter can impact the value of your vehicle, continue reading below.

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What is a Catalytic Converter?

What is a Catalytic Converter?

Simply put, a catalytic converter is a chamber that is part of a car’s exhaust system. It receives an engine’s exhaust gasses and converts them into less toxic gasses through chemical reactions.

Running car engines produce a variety of harmful products including:

  • Nitrogen gas

  • Carbon dioxide

  • Hydrocarbons

  • Carbon monoxide

  • Various nitrogen oxides

The most harmful are the last three. The catalytic converter works to convert them to less harmful byproducts.

These chemical reactions occur as a result of numerous catalysts located inside the converter—hence, its name. The metals palladium, rhodium, and platinum work to generate the energy needed to kickstart these complex reactions.

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How Does a Catalytic Converter Get Damaged?

There are many ways in which a catalytic converter can get damaged. Normal wear and tear is a common reason. Like all car parts, the catalytic converter doesn’t last forever. Many last upwards of 10 years before showing signs of degradation.

However, it can get damaged well before you’ve driven even 50,000 miles. Debris on the road, collisions, other damaged parts can all impact the catalytic converter.

How Does a Catalytic Converter Get Damaged?

If sparks plugs or engine valves are damaged, fuel can enter the catalytic converter and cause damage as it burns up. The same can occur with worn-out pistons or underpowered spark plugs. Oil or coolant leaks from a broken head gasket can drip onto the catalytic converter and wear away at it.

Driving over large bumps, potholes, or curbs can cause physical damage to the converter. If dents are severe enough, they can affect the delicate chemicals inside and compromise the reactions. Eventually, this will result in blocks within the converter.  

Is a Catalytic Converter Necessary?

A catalytic converter isn’t completely necessary for a car to function. However, it does increase your car’s performance and efficiency. That’s because the gasses produced by your engine aren’t only harmful to human life and the environment; they can damage your engine over time.

Without the catalytic converter taking in the hot gasses from the engine, the heat can begin to damage engine components and cause overheating, misfiring, lagging, and eventually, failure.

Not only is a catalytic converter better for your car, your state probably mandates that you have one. In many U.S. states, it is illegal to operate a vehicle without a catalytic converter. That’s because there are specific vehicle emission limits in place. Driving either without a catalytic converter or with a damaged one would cause your vehicle to produce emissions that are those limits.

Moreover, the states that have emission laws in place require drivers to pass an emission test. If you fail this test, you won’t be legally permitted to operate your vehicle until you get your catalytic converter repaired and pass the test.

How Much Does it Cost to Fix a Catalytic Converter?

When you have a damaged catalytic converter, you have two options: get it repaired or replaced. In some cases, your only option will be to replace it. This can because the converter is worn out or is damaged beyond repair.

The catalytic converter itself can cost between $100 and $2,500 depending on the type you get and to which standards it will abide. For instance, a direct-fit catalytic converter is made specifically for your vehicle’s year, make, and model. This will cost more than a universal catalytic converter which is able to fit on a variety of cars.

Likewise, you can choose one that either meets federal or California Air Resources Board (CARB)emission standards. A catalytic converter made to federal standards will meet emission requirements in most states. CARB requirements are more stringent.

A repair, on the other hand, will likely be much cheaper. Repairs primarily involve cleaning the catalytic converter. However, if it needs this repair, there is likely any other issue that’s causing it like a faulty oxygen sensor or other problems. So, your bill might come out higher than expected if this is the case.  

How Much is a Car with a Missing Catalytic Converter Worth?

How Much is a Car with a Missing Catalytic Converter Worth?

If you want to sell your car, but it is missing the catalytic converter, or the converter is damaged, you might be concerned about the value of it. While it’s not impossible to sell a car with a broken catalytic converter, many drivers won’t purchase it. That's because they don’t want to shell out the cash required to repair it.

That said, your car won’t have the same value as one that has a functioning catalytic converter. However, its exact worth will be hard to calculate. At most, you’ll be able to get an estimate from websites like Kelley Blue Book based on your vehicle’s mileage, year, make, model, and overall condition.

Having that estimate in mind will help you to weed out buyers who are offering way below that estimate, especially if your car is functional otherwise.

Selling A Car With A Damaged Catalytic Converter

At DamagedCars, we make it easy to sell your car with a damaged catalytic converter. It takes just 90 seconds to get an offer through our easy-to-use price engine, and we can produce a fair market offer for your car that reflects its current value.

There are just a few steps:

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After we make an offer for your vehicle, it’s guaranteed for seven days. If you like it, you can accept it and schedule your free pickup for just 24-48 business hours out. We’ll come to you for no charge, and we’ll even pay you on the spot for your car!

There’s no haggling, no fuss and no fees. Get an offer from DamagedCars today and sell your car with catalytic converter damage fast.

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Can You Drive With A Damaged Catalytic Converter?

In the short term, it is possible to drive with a damaged catalytic converter. However, doing so might result in negative consequences to your engine. Additionally, your car will produce foul smells and smoke as the component responsible for converting those gases into something safer is not functioning.

In the long term, it is not recommended to drive with a damaged catalytic converter. Besides reduced engine performance (that may end up broken) and the horrible smells emitting from your vehicle, in many areas it is illegal to drive with a broken catalytic converter.

With emission reduction requirements in place in many states, you can be pulled over for driving with a damaged converter.

Can A Bad Catalytic Converter Damage Your Engine?

Your car actually doesn’t need a catalytic converter to function properly. It can run without it but at a cost. Over time though, your engine will take a huge hit as the chemicals it produces aren’t being filtered out. Instead, they stuck around the engine.

With a broken catalytic converter, you will notice reduced fuel efficiency in addition to stalling and misfiring. Without the catalytic converter’s help in removing the toxic fumes, your engine will not be able to run at its best and can eventually stop working.

What Damage Can A Bad Catalytic Converter Cause?

Although initially, you might only notice minor symptoms like a rotten egg smell or an illuminated check engine light, eventually, more serious signs will appear. These signs can be indicative of engine trouble and should not be taken lightly:

  • Engine knocking

  • Reduced engine performance

  • Reduced fuel economy

  • Engine not starting