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Catalytic Converter – the cost of a mistake

Written by maryp posted on Saturday, February 26th, 2011

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We have a very sad story to relay in the hopes that other people will heed the message.

The catalytic converter on your BMW, your VW, Mercedes, MINI or just about any other car is very specific to your particular vehicle. They are in most cases very reliable until they reach a certain age/mileage or if they have been abused by poor maintenance, such as the failure to replace oxygen sensors, or a severe overheat condition.

If you are quoted a price that seems too good to be true for a catalytic converter, it most probably is. We have seen smaller inappropriate catalytic converters put on BMW’s and other vehicles in the effort to save someone money, only to find out later that it is the wrong catalytic converter! You will not pass smog if that is the case because the emission parts on your car have to be correct!

Especially rigorous about what is allowed, the California Air Resources Board determines what can be put on your BMW, MINI or any car in CA. The catalytic converters by Original Equipment manufacturers or independent part warehouses MUST have their parts approved by both the EPA and CARB before they can be sold in California. They are also in many cases under an extended warranty by the manufacturer as demanded by the EPA.

If you think you have a failing catalytic converter, (rattling often times) or if someone tells you that it must be replaced, be sure to
call your manufacturer, give them the VIN and see if your cat is covered under an Extended Warranty.

In some cases, we are talking 10-12 years and 120 miles or even more! A good independent BMW repair facility or the dealer will have the information, but if you want to be sure, call. We are not talking about some warranty that you paid for, we are talking about what the EPA/CARB determined to be the life of your catalytic converter and mandated that the manufacturer extend that warranty.

We are trying to help someone with a VW (former BMW client) who was charged only for labor to install a catalytic converter that is not legal in our State. Did someone think they would be a nice mechanic and put on something that was laying around the shop for a few years, and save the customer some money? Yeah. Probably. But in that effort they have lost the extended warranty for the customer, (at least 1K) and now the client still needs a new cat for their VW, (probably another 1K).

This sucks.

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