Replacement Catalytic Convertor


Old 05-06-03, 10:10 AM
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Question Replacement Catalytic Convertor

Took my '95 Mercury Tracer in yesterday for the bi-annual California smog inspection. On first try I failed the 15mph hydrocarbon test at 94ppm and the 15mph NO at 685ppm. They diagnosed a plugged catalytic convertor which they replaced for $175. With the new convertor I passed the HC at 53ppm and the NO at 18ppm. I have two questions for anyone.
1) The new convertor was installed by cutting into the exhaust pipe about midway under the car. The tech told me the original factory type attaching to the exhaust manifold would have cost $450 to $500. He told me the original convertor was now "empty". I am happy to have saved a few hundred dollars on the repair but is this standard procedure and are there any problems with this approach?
2) Even with the new convertor my 15mph HC reading is still 53, above the average of 21. What could be the cause. The spark plugs are only about 5,000 miles old and the plug wires have about 40,000 miles on them.

Thanks for your time.
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Old 05-06-03, 10:16 AM
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I'm not sure I understand what was done.

Replacement catalytic converters must be in the same location and type (3 way) as the original. You must install a replacement converter based on the manufacturer's catalog and the part # they recommend for the vehicle.

Nothing should be "hollowed out". If the guts of the converter were emptied in some fashion, that is illegal. You cannot defeat an emission control device, it is a violation of federal law. Call up the shop that did the work and clarify what is meant by "empty".

Ask if the converter was gutted out and is now an empty shell. Then ask why---because NOTHING is solved by doing that.

Catalytic converters plug and go bad due to a poorly running engine (one that runs too rich, burns oil or coolant). Replacing a converter without fixing the root cause of what caused it to fail will mean the new converter will meet the same fate very shortly.
Old 05-06-03, 10:50 AM
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Thanks for the response Joe. What they did is hollow out the factory convertor which connects to the exhause manifold and installed a replacement catalytic convertor aft of that under the car before the rear wheels. I should point out the car does have 192,000 miles. The only major engine work was a new head some 40,000 miles following a head gasket failure. The tech attributes the plugged catalytic convertor to the high mileage.
Old 05-06-03, 11:32 AM
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I still do not think it is legal to do that. The replacement converter must be in the same place as the original, and moving it downstream is doing just that (removing it from where it was originally installed).

Sure, I understand why it was moved, but I don't think it's the right thing to do. I'm sure someone makes a replacement converter that will install in the same place as the original. I believe it is placed where it is for a reason, perhaps for fast light off or for that engine to meet the EPA standards for that given year.

As for high mileage killing a converter, I believe that to be a fallacy. I think that a poorly running engine will kill it first. Either that, or it rots out from road salt. I still have the original service replacement converter on my 84 Oldsmobile. The original was clogged in three years! But something caused it.

You might check with the EPA on that one to see if what I'm stating is correct. I believe it is.
Old 05-06-03, 01:59 PM
darrell McCoy
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Something is not adding up or I am missing something on this deal. What converters I have replaced and seen replaced went right back in the original position. I dont buy hollowing out the old one and leaving it in place. Another problem place that you shouldnt have. I would worry about possible contamination from old converter "Junk" even tho it was hollowed out. Should have been removed.
Old 05-06-03, 03:32 PM
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Interesting viewpoints. Joe, your remarks prompted me to call the California Bureau of Consumer Affairs to find out if I have anything to complain about. They inform me that the catalytic convertor replacement I described is perfectly legitimate, legal, and acceptable on vehicle years 1995 and prior. That gives me peace of mind.
Old 05-07-03, 03:51 AM
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Straight from the horse's mouth . We'll go with that.

I STILL believe there is a reason Ford puts it up front like that. I'd check with some converter suppliers to see where their replacement would mount.

I'd want it the way it came, but that's me .

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