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Is It Safe Drive Without A Catalytic Converter?

Catalytic converter diagram

Driving a car without a catalytic converter is possible in a general sense. A catalytic converter isn’t completely necessary for your vehicle to function.

However, the catalytic converter does increase your car’s performance and efficiency by filtering the harmful gasses produced by your engine.

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.While driving without a catalytic converter isn’t impossible, whether you should drive without one is a different matter.

Removing a catalytic converter is a criminal act in every state and driving without it means your vehicle will fail any emissions standard.

Can You Drive With A Broken Catalytic Converter?

Driving with a bad catalytic converter causes your vehicle to give off higher emissions than those allowed by your state’s regulations. Any vehicle with a fault catalytic converter won’t pass any emission test and, therefore, cannot be driven legally.

Catalytic converter closeup

Actually being on the road with a broken catalytic converter is a noticeably unpleasant experience. Where your normally functioning vehicle has a mild purr as it drives, one with a broken converter will sound closer to the roar of a plane engine.

Symptoms of a broken catalytic converter include:

  • Engine Stalling
  • Rough Idling
  • Overheating/Smoke
  • Reduced Fuel Efficiency

These symptoms precede total catalytic converter failure. If left unaddressed, they can develop into a complete failure which can result in heavy smoke and even fire from your vehicle.  

Cost To Fix A Broken Catalytic Converter

Catalytic converters are not cheap to replace, with an average replacement cost ranging from $400-$3000 for the part alone.

Factoring in labor, other components, and damage repairs around the site of the converter, you could look at paying over $1,000 to replace your converter at minimum.

The reason they are so expensive is due to the roughly 4-9 grams of precious metals within the converter and the more efficient, low-emission vehicles tend to have more expensive metals within theirs.

Metals like rhodium, platinum, and palladium make the catalytic converter both an expensive part to replace and a prime target for thieves.

Can You Sell A Car With A Broken Catalytic Converter?

Blown engine

Selling a car with a broken or missing catalytic converter isn’t impossible, but where you live will largely determine if it can be done.

Most states, like Texas, forbid the sale of cars without catalytic converters. Others, like California, require the vehicle to pass an emissions test, which it will fail without a catalytic converter.

While there are plenty of hoops to jump through if you want to sell a car with a broken catalytic converter to a private buyer, CarBrain has no such obstacles.

Our online platform connects you to a nationwide network of buyers who can easily take your car off your hands, catalytic converter or not!

  • Get a quote for your vehicle within 90 seconds.
  • FREE vehicle retrieval by one of our partners within your area.
  • No haggling; receive the entire amount quoted for your car.

We pride ourselves on providing the best customer service in the automotive industry. Contact CarBrain today and let us help you get that car with the broken catalytic converter off your hands!

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Frequently Asked Questions

Can I drive a car with a broken catalytic converter?

While a car with a bad catalytic converter can still be driven, it will give off higher emissions than what is legally allowed. That car would not pass a vehicle emissions test and, therefore, is not able to be driven legally.

How much does it cost to replace a catalytic converter?

For the majority of vehicles, catalytic converter replacement ranges between $945 and $2475, which takes both the cost of parts and the cost of labor into account. Catalytic converters by themselves can cost nearly $3,000, which may outvalue your car entirely.
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