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How to Sell a Car With a Broken Catalytic Converter

With the catalytic converter cost being as high as it is, replacing it isn’t practical. But can you sell your car without it? Find the answer in this guide.
Stephanie Lawrence
Stephanie Lawrence
10/17/2022 · 7 min read
How to Sell a Car With a Broken Catalytic Converter How to Sell a Car With a Broken Catalytic Converter How to Sell a Car With a Broken Catalytic Converter

Catalytic converters have become a hot subject on the news in recent years. With catalytic converter thefts at an all-time high, many people are forced to deal with the situation of selling a car without a catalytic converter, which can not only be more difficult but even illegal in some states.

And considering the catalytic converter cost, it's easy to understand why many people would be concerned about the part being stolen and would be looking for the cheapest way to fix catalytic converter.

But even if your catalytic converter is still in place, you may encounter a situation where the car suffers catalytic converter damage, making the car function the same as if it didn't have the part at all. A broken catalytic converter can cause a lot of issues, increasing your vehicle emissions through exhaust gases and dramatically reducing its value.

Luckily, if you're wondering how to sell a car with a broken catalytic converter, there are options you can consider. This article will explore the cost of catalytic converter replacement, whether it's worth it, and how to get rid of your car if it doesn't have it.

Ready to get started? Then read on below.

How Do I Know if My Catalytic Converter Has Gone Bad?

The first step of figuring out whether you need a catalytic converter replacement is learning how to discover if it has gone bad. And the truth is, without knowing the signs to look for that can tell you your catalytic converter has gone bad, you may drive for months and not even know it having issues unless you're attentive.

That's why it's important to be aware of some of the more common symptoms of damage to your catalytic converter, which will allow you to get ahead of the issue and be aware of your car's condition before approaching a private buyer or looking for professional junk car buyers.

Let's look at some of the main symptoms repair shops look for when diagnosing catalytic converter rattles and other issues.

  • Engine issues. If you start noticing sluggish engine performance as you're accelerating and driving, that may be caused by issues with the catalytic converter. A clogged converter can become overheated, causing serious damage in the long term. Eventually, these issues will probably be followed with a check engine light, but if you feel the engine is not performing as it should, it's always a good idea to get the car checked out by a professional to see whether the catalytic converter is behind the issues.
  • Dark smoke. A clogged or damaged catalytic converter can also result in your car emitting black smoke through the exhaust pipe. Seeing black smoke coming from your car could be a sign that the car is burning too much oil or that there's a leak of engine coolant fluids. As any mechanic will tell you, black smoke is never a good sign for the car's health, not to mention the fact that it produces an excess of harmful emissions that are detrimental to the environment and the people around you.
  • Excessive heat. If you notice excessive heat coming from the area of your catalytic converter, that could signal that it has one of several possible issues that are causing it to overheat. For instance, it could be an issue with the EGR, a bad air-to-fuel ratio, a clogged converter, and a few other issues that might force you to look into the catalytic converter cost before selling your car.
  • Rotten egg smell. A classic sign of catalytic converter issues is the smell of rotten eggs coming from the exhaust pipe. If you start smelling weird smells that weren't present before, that's a good indication that something might be wrong and that you should get an expert's opinion about whether it's the catalytic converter or something else that could be behind the issue.

Cost to Fix a Broken Catalytic Converter

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The catalytic converter cost has been increasing in recent years. In fact, the high cost of the part is one of the main reasons why catalytic converter theft has become so common in various parts of the country.

With most states having strict requirements about cars needing to have a catalytic converter for environmental reasons, it has become the only way to ensure that your car is street legal and meets the emission control standards for the particles that are left from unburned fuel in the exhaust flow.

And that means that the catalytic converter cost when trying to fix it might put a strain on your finances and force you to reconsider if it's worth it in the first place.

The average cost to fix a catalytic converter today is around $1,700, with the specific price in your situation depending on factors such as your car's make, model, and year. In some cases, the price can end up being as high as $3,000, especially if you want to do the repairs at a reputable shop instead of trying to replace it yourself.

And the worst part is that unresolved catalytic converter issues can have a chain effect throughout your vehicle. That means that while it may start out as a clogged or otherwise broken catalytic converter, the issue might end up causing severe engine damage that repair shops will charge even more to fix.

At some point, dealing with the various problems that a broken catalytic converter can cause will become impractical. If you have an older car or even a newer model with multiple issues, you will need to consider whether the high catalytic converter cost is worth it or if you should consider selling the car to a specialized buyer that can offer real cash and even a vehicle pick-up at your convenience.

Can You Sell a Car With a Broken Catalytic Converter?

The legality of selling your car without investing in the catalytic converter replacement cost to fix it depends on a variety of factors.

However, in many states across the nation, it is actually illegal to sell your car to a private buyer if the catalytic converter is missing or not working. The strict emission control standards are put in place to ensure that each car that has its title transferred must meet the requirements. And that means that legally, you will usually need to fix the issue before you can sell your car.

For example, if you live in Florida, Texas, California, and a range of other states, you shouldn't attempt to sell your car without a catalytic converter. In fact, the fine for doing so in California can be as high as $10,000, and you would be at risk of further court proceedings.

However, some states are more lenient than others. Indiana, Illinois, North Carolina, Kentucky, and a few other states don't have clearly defined catalytic converter regulations, which means you should be able to sell your car, even if it doesn't have one.

But besides selling to private buyers, there are other options you should consider, which are not only legal but also come with a lot less hassle.

For one thing, if your car is older and has a range of issues on top of the catalytic converter, you might consider selling your car for parts. Even older model cars have parts that are in relatively high demand, which means you can get a pretty good offer for individual parts if you take the car apart and post each part online for sale.

But for this method to work, you must have the time to take on this complicated process, the space and tools to do it, and the necessary experience to take the car apart safely and without damaging expensive (and often fragile) parts.

Because of these limitations, scrapping the car for parts is not a viable option for the vast majority of car owners. Sure, you could get a mechanic to do it for you, but the services themselves aren't cheap and will cut into your profit, without a guarantee that the parts will actually end up selling or what you expect them to.

Luckily, there's a simpler and more convenient approach you can go with.

If you sell your car to a junkyard or a junk car buyer, you can eliminate a lot of the hassle involved with fielding offers from private buyers. And while you would have to find and reach out to junkyards yourself, selling to a junk car buyer can be an even simpler process that allows you to get the best price possible.

Reputable junk car buyers have a refined process for buying cars. They complete hundreds of transactions each day, which means that you can trust that the experience will be fast, simple, and convenient for you.

You can get an almost-instant quote when you fill out a simple form, accept the offer, and arrange a pick-up time that works for you with local handlers in your area. The junk car buyer can even help you overcome legal issues, such as if the title has not been properly transferred to you from the previous owner.

How Do Catalytic Converters Affect Junk Car Prices?

At this point, it's probably no surprise that the condition of your catalytic converter will have a huge impact on how much your junk car is worth.

Replacing and repairing a catalytic converter can cost thousands of dollars, so anyone who would want to operate the car after purchasing it would have to invest a lot of money or operate the car in a state that has more lenient laws regarding catalytic converters.

Luckily, there are always buyers willing to buy a car even if the catalytic converter is missing or broken. The only question is how much you can ultimately get for it. And a car with a fully working catalytic converter in good condition will always fetch more than a similar car without one.

Bottom Line

If you have a car with a broken catalytic converter, deciding whether it's worth fixing can be a tough choice. On one hand, selling a car without a catalytic converter can be harder. But at the same time, replacing the catalytic converter is a huge expense that isn't worth it in many situations.

Luckily, when you sell to a junk car buyer, you can be sure that you'll get a fair offer for your car, even if the catalytic converter is broken or missing.

Ready to get started?

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