Catalytic Converter

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Jun 7, 2009
I need a new one for my '97 Sable as my fuel mileage had declined about 16%. Dealership says $1300 for a replacement. Is merely removing the converter sufficient to fix this problem? Being that is an older car, I'm not motivated to make a significant financial investment to address an issue of fuel economy.
If you have annual inspections, you probably won't pass without a CC... it's $1300 for parts alone??? I'd image it's pretty easy to replace. Just a bolt-on, right?
No annual inspections here in upstate South Carolina. Didn't have then in rural Ohio when I lived there. Don't know anything about how it's attached (I'm a novice at repair work) If all the faulty converter is doing is retarding my gas mileage, I can live with that. I'm willing to put a little money into fixing the problem, but it would take a long time to recoup the cost of $1300 through a 5mpg increase.
This is just one of the sites I stumbled upon.. You may be able to find it cheaper, but should be less than $200.;apwidckm3Xug If it's a bolt-on, it should be very easy to do yourself. Otherwise, you'll just need someone with some welding experience. Any muffler shop would probably do it for under $100, maybe even less than $50. I had an aftermarket muffler installed by one for $30 a few years ago. Plus, if you change it, you have the benefit of saving the environment! thumbsup
By the way, are you/they sure it's the CC? Any CEL codes being displayed? I'd likely clean my Mass Air Flow sensor and check the O2 sensor before looking into CC.
If you aren't worried about an emission inspection in the future, there ARE "test pipes" availible ("JC and the Boys" had them) to "remove the converter for test purposes". The question becomes one of whether or not the fuel injection sensor system can live without the converter. In most systems of that age there are two sensors, one in the exhaust manifold which feeds info directly to the computer for mixture setting purposes, and another after the converter which "rats you out" to the computer and sets the OBD II check engine light if the exhaust is not clean enough. If you pull the converter you will probably have that light on until it burns out or you put black tape over it, but the car should run OK. Modern cats don't cause much backpressure unless clogged. They are attached with bolt on flanges. So are the the "test pipes". (Hint)
According to paperwork from the dealership, ".... and retrieved codes and P0430 set, performed EEC test and found the cat converters faulty causing the concerns..."
There are ways to fool the rear sensor into thinking things are "clean" when they are not, there is a ton of info you can Google about it. If the state you live in does not have an air quality problem and emissions test (Florida does not) then it is up to you whether or not you wish to help clean up the air. 1300 bucks is a lot to spend just to keep the enviroweasel federal bureaurats happy if YOUR state doesn't require the system the FEDS demanded be in place when the car was sold. Those of us in monkey see monkey do states where they worship the Feds are just stuck with it. The morons in MY state adopted the stricter than Federal California standard some years ago, insuring that WE get sold more expensive "California emissions" parts instead of the cheaper "49 state" versions. This, in a state with a LOUSY economy. That's why you will see "49 state legal" and California CARB required" designations on emissions parts. You CAN use a 49 state part oin many places on a California car IF the car is not to be registered in California.
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HerrStig, check engine light has been on for three years. Fuel economy just recently took a dive. My friend took the converter off his Dodge Neon and said his fuel economy went down so I'm not sure if removing is a helpful option. Based on age of car, I"m looking for a cheap fix or I'll just leave as is. Does anyone know if the '97 Sable has a sensor after the converter?
Some Neons, I have read, had a sort of trick exhause system where the converter was also used as a muffler to save weight and cost (apparently). If the emissions system does not have enough "adjustability" (they are all able to adjust for ordinary wear) to get the mixture back to 14.7 to 1 WITHOUT the backpressure from the converter/muffler the milage may indeed go down. That's why the "test pipe" replacement is such an interesting approach, you can get one for a few bucks and judge the difference for yourself. Generally speaking, unless a converter fails due to corrosion, it is a problem elsewhere in the system which shows up because it CAUSED a clogged or overheated converter failure, an effect rather than a cause.
Removimg the cat is a federal crime and is illegal in all 50 states. Doesn't matter if your state has emissions testing or not. $1300 is ridiculous, get it fixed (properly) somewhere else.
CC is not a fuel economy item. It is emissions control, and is illegal federally to drive without. The correct approach is to replace with OE or one that meets CA emissions standards. The $200 items are worse than an OE converter at end of life. Total waste of money. Are you sure it isnt just an O2 sensor mismatch? Owning a car is expensive. Do it right.
If you can get under the car, follow the exhaust systen back from the engine, at some point you will see a spark plug like device with a wire connected bolted into a "bung" on the pipe, AFTER all the converters. That's the rear sensor. I don't know of an OBD II emissions control system which doesn't have one. On V6 engines, there are often TWO "front" sensors, but they are bolted on to the exhaust manifolds. On cars with V8 engines and true dual exhaust systems (not "Y" pipes) there are four.
Depending on which engine the Sable has and the location of the converter it could very easily be $1300. Some of those cars have a one piece Y-pipe with 2 or 3 cats on it. And since it is factory it is direct fit with no modifications. I remember when it was available, the cats on my 98 Mustang GT were over $3500 MSRP, it had 6 cats on the H-pipe.
The test pipe tests the exhaust system by eliminating the cat (it goes in place of the cat). This allows one to determine if the cat is plugged or not.
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Originally Posted By: bdcardinal
Depending on which engine the Sable has and the location of the converter it could very easily be $1300. Some of those cars have a one piece Y-pipe with 2 or 3 cats on it. And since it is factory it is direct fit with no modifications. I remember when it was available, the cats on my 98 Mustang GT were over $3500 MSRP, it had 6 cats on the H-pipe.
Ouch on two fronts! I can still buy a new OE converter for my 91 BMW, and it is only $1500 or so. Did the trick where the cheap cats were worthless.
I bet you have another problem. Dragging brake, slipping trans. Different gas blend, injector problems, fuel pressure reg problems. I've found early OBDII fords to be kind of numb to issues and not throw codes like you'd expect. Does it stink of gas when it runs? Rockauto shows only bolt in cats for your app, and they're pricy at $370. Got to be a way to weld one in, though. So long as the cat hasn't broken up inside, it shouldn't hurt your power or gas mileage.
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