Trading In Your Car: Can You Do It Without A Catalytic Converter?

A catalytic converter works to convert harmful pollutants into less dangerous compounds before they leave a vehicle — and it’s illegal to drive a car that doesn’t have one. That’s not only because of the potential environmental damage, but also because it’s unhealthy for people who may breathe in the exhaust fumes. However, if you’re trading in an old car, does it need to have a catalytic converter?

You may be able to trade in an older car without a catalytic converter if you don’t intend on driving it. However, the laws vary depending on where you live. In most states, a car must have a catalytic converter (and pass emissions tests) before it’s sold or traded.

Let’s take a closer look at whether it’s possible to trade or sell your car without a catalytic converter, as well as how much the part costs and how to replace it.

Can I Trade In My Car Without a Catalytic Converter?

Car sale

The answer to this question fully depends on state laws as well as the specific dealership you’re going to. Because it’s illegal to drive a car without a catalytic converter, some states have strict laws regarding trading or selling vehicles that lack the part, and some dealerships won’t accept a car without one as a result. 

For example, Texas law forbids any person from selling or leasing a car that doesn’t have a full set of emission control systems in good shape. Violators of this law can be fined up to $25,000 for each infraction.

The most important thing is to check to laws in the location where you intend to sell the vehicle — and always be very upfront about the fact that your car is missing a catalytic converter.

Is It Legal to Sell a Car Without a Catalytic Converter?

Federal law requires all new cars that are sold to have a catalytic converter, and the only way around this is if the car is older and isn’t actively being driven. Even then, it’s important to check the laws in your specific state, as they vary.

Furthermore, federal law dictates that a car can’t be driven without a catalytic converter — and that applies across the country.

How Much Do Catalytic Converters Cost?

The cost of a catalytic converter can vary widely depending on the make and model of your vehicle, as well as what type of catalytic converter you need or want to put on the vehicle.

On average, you could pay up to $2,000 for a new catalytic converter. Some high-end vehicles may go even higher. It’s best to check with the manufacturer or a dealership to get a specific quote.

Can You Drive a Car Without a Catalytic Converter?

A car can technically be driven without a catalytic converter and it will still function normally in most cases. However, it’s illegal to do so in the United States — as it is in most countries around the world. This is because driving without a catalytic converter can do severe harm to both the environment and human health.

Although a car will likely run without the converter, the missing part may result in a decrease in engine power and fuel economy. It might also trigger various error codes in the vehicle.

How Do I Replace a Catalytic Converter?

Catalytic Converted with O2 Sensor Under Car

You can replace a catalytic converter by using the following method:

  1. Use a jack to lift the vehicle and secure it with jack stands.
  2. Use a wrench to remove the bolts that hold the catalytic converter in place and disconnect the exhaust pipes as carefully as possible.
  3. Carefully slide the converter out of the exhaust system.
  4. Slide the new converter into the exhaust system, making sure that it’s properly aligned.
  5. Use the wrench to reattach the exhaust pipes to the new converter.

It’s essential to note that you should only do this if you are very confident with mechanics. This isn’t only true for the sake of the car, but because there are strict laws surrounding catalytic converters, both in each state and federally. Tampering with one is illegal, as is replacing your catalytic converter with one that doesn’t fit requirements.

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