How to Find the Best Catalytic Converter – Top 10 Picks in 2020
Catalytic converters are built to withstand the wear and tear of daily use, but they are not built to last forever. Determining what the best catalytic converter for your vehicle is is by no means a simple task as you need to know exactly which model fits your vehicle and how to install it to your car’s exhaust system.
Besides the vehicle’s requirements, you will also need to make sure that the model of the catalytic converter you are considering matches your state’s vehicle emission standards.
That’s why in this guide, we are going to take you through all aspects you need to consider while choosing a new catalytic converter and help you choose the one that matches your vehicle’s requirements.
At a Glance: Our Top 3 Picks for Catalytic Converters
AUTOSAVER88 Nissan Altima 2.5L Direct Fit – The Best Catalytic Converter in 2020
Versatility, simple installation process, compliance with federal vehicle emission standards, and an affordable price are just a few reasons why we’ve chosen Nissan Altima 2.5L Direct Fit catalytic converter as our best catalytic converter in 2020.
Eastern Industries 70318 – The most affordable catalytic converter
MagnaFlow Exhaust Products 99356HM – The best diesel catalytic converter
Why are catalytic converters so important?
The gases that are generated during the fuel combustion are harmful to the environment, which is the reason why all motor vehicles produced since the mid-1970s have a catalytic converter.
This part of the exhaust system controls the emission of exhaust gases, and it reduces their toxicity. This is achieved through the conversion of carbon monoxide into carbon dioxide and the oxidation of unburnt hydrocarbons to water and carbon dioxide.
Furthermore, some catalytic converters have the capacity to break up oxides of nitrogen into nitrogen and water. Consequently, catalytic converters significantly reduce the negative impact cars have on the environment, although they do not eliminate it.
The production of vehicles that don’t have a catalytic converter is banned for decades, while some states have strict exhaust gas emission standards. Replacing the factory catalytic converter with an aftermarket option is only possible if you manage to find the exact same model, and failing to do so can cause irreparable damage to your car.
Find Out Which Emission System Your Vehicle Is Using
Assuming that all cars come with the same catalytic converter model can be a costly mistake, since the last thing you want is to buy a catalytic converter, just to find out that the catalytic converter you purchased doesn’t match your vehicle’s exhaust system.
You just have to look under the hood in order to find out which factory catalytic converter your car was using. The sticker containing the emission information should be placed near the engine, and in most cases, you won’t have too much trouble finding it.
The emission sticker should contain the following information:
- Manufacture year
- Model number
- Engine type
- Transmission type
You should use this information while searching for a new catalytic converter since you are going to need it to find a model that is compatible with your vehicle.
Differentiating Between Different Types of Catalytic Converters
All motor vehicles you can find on the market today use either two-way or three-way catalytic converters.
Two-way catalytic converters
This type of catalytic converter is commonly used on vehicles that have diesel engines, as they are equipped with Diesel Oxidation Catalyst that oxidizes carbon monoxide and unburnt hydrocarbons and turns them into carbon dioxide and water.
In this manner, they eliminate the black soot and the distinctive diesel smell with the 90% efficiency, but they cannot lower the levels of nitrogen oxide gases. Even though two-way catalytic converters can be paired with gasoline engines, you will find them only on car models produced before 1980.
Three-way catalytic converters
The ability to break the nitrogen oxide gas into nitrogen and oxygen is what sets three-way catalytic converters apart from two-way catalytic converters. Consequentially, three-way catalytic converters are more eco-friendly than two-way catalytic converters as they reduce the emission of harmful gases significantly.
This is the most common type of catalytic converter on cars that have a gasoline engine, so if you are looking to replace a catalytic converter on your car, the chances are that you are going to need a three-way catalytic converter.
How Are Catalytic Converters Made?
Most catalytic converters are made out of stainless steel, although you can also find models that are made out of other metals. Their interior is coated with aluminum, which makes them more durable. Their honeycomb structure contains precious metals such as palladium, rhodium, or platinum, that serve as oxidation and reduction catalysts.
Some models can also contain manganese, nickel, or iron, although the industry’s leading manufacturers advise against the use of these metals. That’s why it is better to opt for a catalytic converter that is made of stainless steel, and that uses rhodium, platinum, and palladium as an oxidation catalyst.
Choosing Between a Direct Fit and Universal Catalytic Converter
Whether you are going to opt for a direct fit or universal catalytic converter depends on the car model you have. Direct fit catalytic converters are designed to match the specifications of your car’s factory catalytic converter as the tubing diameter, or placement of the O2 sensor are identical.
The installation process is relatively simple as they generally easily fit into place, and they don’t have to be welded to a vehicle’s exhaust system. Direct fit catalytic converters are more expensive than universal catalytic converters, and they are only available for a limited number of car models.
In case you cannot find a direct catalytic converter for your vehicle, your best option is to search for a universal catalytic converter. You will have to make sure that the model you’re considering features the correct sensor ports and find out the dimensions of the catalytic converter you already have.
However, the installation process of universal catalytic converters can be very difficult, as you may have to weld them to your car’s exhaust system.
Check Your State’s Vehicle Emission Standards
Vehicles sold on the US market can adhere either to Federal or CARB regulations, depending on the state. The federal regulations are in compliance with the Environmental Protection Agency gas emission standards, while the CARB regulations are stricter.
California Air Resources Board (CARB) demands the use of precious metals and extensive testing, which is the reason why catalytic converters that match these standards cost more than those that match the federal regulations.
Besides California, states such as New York, Massachusetts, or Oregon have also made the use of catalytic converters that match the CARB standards mandatory, and for that reason, you must check your state’s vehicle emission standards before you purchase a new catalytic converter.
How Much Should You Spend on a New Catalytic Converter?
The amount of money you will have to invest in a new catalytic converter ultimately depends on the car model you have.
There are numerous ways to maintain your vehicle’s catalytic converter in good condition and extend its life expectancy. However, if a catalytic converter is clogged or damaged, then the best option is to replace it.
The cost of a new aftermarket catalytic converter can vary between $50 and $200, without the installation fees.
There are plenty of budget-friendly options on the market, but it is better to spend a little extra on a catalytic converter from a reputable brand, as they are generally more efficient and more durable than low-cost catalytic converters.
Top 10 Catalytic Converters in 2020
Exploring the catalytic converter aftermarket will be much easier if you know exactly what you are looking for.
That’s why you should find out if a Direct Fit Catalytic Converter is available for the car model you have and enquire about the vehicle emission regulations in the state where the vehicle is registered.
Here are some of the best catalytic converters in 2020:
1. AUTOSAVER88 Nissan Altima 2.5L Direct Fit – The Best Catalytic Converter in 2020
A durable stainless steel outer shell and the honeycomb internal structure make the AUTOSAVER88 Nissan Altima 2.5L Direct Fit catalytic converter our top choice. Converter’s internal layers contain precious metals that maximize its efficiency.
This catalytic converter model doesn’t comply with CARB standards, but it has Federal EPA certification, and it matches the OBD2 standards.
The catalytic converter’s structure allows the precious metals to react with the exhaust gasses without impacting the flow rate. In this manner, the AUTOSAVER88 Nissan Altima improves your vehicle’s gas mileage and its overall performance.
The installation process is remarkably easy, as you just have to tighten the bolts and make sure that the catalytic converter is firmly in place. Moreover, this AUTOSAVER88 model is cost-efficient, which means that you are going to get a high-end catalytic converter at an affordable price.
- Stainless steel outer shell with a metallic finish
- Federal EPA certification
- Reduces backpressure
- Quick and easy installation process
- Eliminates the effects of engine overheating
- Excellent price-performance ratio
- Made out of high-quality materials
- Compatible with a limited range of vehicles
2. Eastern Industries 70318 – The Most Affordable Catalytic Converter
In case you are looking for an inexpensive catalytic converter that can be installed on a broad range of vehicles, then you should consider getting Eastern Industries 70318 catalytic converter.
This is a non-directional catalytic converter, which means that you can use either of its pipes as an inlet or an outlet pipe. However, you must have an exhaust system with a 2.5-inch pipe in order for the Eastern Industries 70318 model to fit.
This catalytic converter utilizes NANO technology to reduce the emissions of harmful gasses, but it doesn’t feature an oxygen sensor. What’s more, the only way to install Eastern Industries 70318 model to your vehicle is to weld it to the exhaust system, which means that you won’t be able to complete this task unless you have the necessary equipment.
Even though Eastern Industries 70318 catalytic converter is compatible with a broader range of vehicles than AUTOSAVER88 Nissan Altima, but it’s exhaust gas conversion capabilities are not as powerful.
- Non-flanged inlet and outlet pipes
- Made out of sturdy materials
- Compatible with most vehicles on the market
- Equipped with NANO gas conversion technology
- Has a 2.5-inch pipe diameter
- Inexpensive and efficient
- Universal design that fits nearly all types of vehicles
- Complicated installation process
3. MagnaFlow Exhaust Products 99356HM – The Best Diesel Catalytic converter
Unlike the AUTOSAVER Nissan Altima and Eastern Industries 70318, MagnaFlow Exhaust Products 99356HM is a two-way catalytic converter designed for vehicles that have diesel and gasoline engines.
The fact that this catalytic converter doesn’t have the capability to eliminate the nitrogen oxide, hampers its performance significantly. Furthermore, this MagnaFlow Exhaust Products model doesn’t meet the CARB standards, and you can’t use it in the states that adopted this vehicle gas emission regulation.
However, this catalytic converter matches the federal emission requirements, which makes it a good choice for owners who live in states that adopted this set of gas emission regulations.
The catalytic converter’s body is made out of stainless steel, while its inlet pipe has the 2.5-inch diameter. This MagnaFlow Exhaust Products model doesn’t have bolts, and you must weld it to your car’s exhaust system in order to install it.
- Universal design that fits a wide variety of vehicles
- Produced for car models that have both diesel and gas engines
- Features a 2.5-inch inlet pipe
- Complies with federal emission requirements
- Durable and resistant to vibrations
- Suitable for a broad range of vehicles regardless of the engine they are using
- Sturdy body construction
- Inlet and outlet pipes have to be shortened before installation to some vehicles
4. EvanFischer REPG960301 Silver Powder-Coated Catalytic Converter
If you are looking for an aftermarket catalytic converter for a Chevrolet Silverado 1500 or GMC Sierra 1500, the EvanFischer REPG960301 Silver Powder-Coated catalytic converter is one of the best options you have at your disposal.
This direct replacement catalytic converter features a dual inlet that guides exhaust gases to two different honeycombs. Furthermore, each honeycomb has two oxygen sensors that monitor the inflow of harmful gasses into the catalytic converter and ensure that the catalytic converter is working properly.
The Y-shaped pipe is designed to maximize the area for the catalytic conversion and ensure a smooth flow of gasses from the engine to the exhaust pipe.
Installing this EvanFischer’s catalytic converter doesn’t require a lot of effort, as you just have to position the gaskets properly and tighten the screws and bolts. However, you need to make sure that this catalytic converter model meets your state’s gas emission regulations.
- Features two separate honeycombs
- Compatible with a variety of different car models
- Equipped with gaskets, screws, and bolts for easy installation
- Weighs 61.5 pounds
- Four oxygen sensors
- A direct fit catalytic converter that matches vehicles made by different manufacturers
- 5-year warranty
- Doesn’t comply with CARB standards
5. Walker 15634 – Direct Fit Pre OBD2 Catalytic Converter
The flange to flange design, as well as OE-style hangers and brackets, allow for easy installation, as you simply have to bolt this catalytic converter into your car’s exhaust system.
Walker 15634 catalytic converter is made of stainless steel and aluminum, which enables it to withstand the heavy-duty use. In addition, this catalytic converter features an aluminized heat shield that protects the undercarriage from the heat the converter generates.
However, Walker 15634 is just EPA compliant, and you cannot use it in the state of California, while in other states like Maine or New York, you can install this catalytic converter just on pre OBD2 vehicles. Despite being equipped with a proprietary washcoat technology, the catalytic converter’s reduction and oxidation capabilities are average at best.
- Direct fit catalytic converter for pre OBD2 cars
- Uses precious metals to oxidize harmful gasses
- Features an aluminized heat shield
- Weighs just 6.5 pounds
- EPA compliant
- Great aftermarket catalytic converter for pre OBD2 vehicles
- Offers extra protection against the heat it creates
- Installing Walker 15634 is illegal in some states
6. MagnaFlow 51356 Universal Catalytic Converter
Like the MagnaFlow 99356HM, MagnaFlow 51356 is a universal catalytic converter that is compatible with vehicles that have gas and diesel engines. Its clamshell body is made out of stainless steel, while the inlet and outlet pipes have the 2.5-inch diameters.
This catalytic converter was manufactured using CNC machines, and it is designed to reduce the fuel consumption to the minimum. The ceramics are used as the substrate material, which ensures an even flow of exhaust gasses into and out of the catalytic converter.
Magnaflow 51356 is also equipped with an oxygen sensor that guarantees an even flow of oxygen and eliminates the backpressure.
The installation of this universal catalytic converter requires you to adjust its inlet and outlet pipes before you weld it to your car’s exhaust system. This MagnaFlow’s model is EPA compliant, but it is advisable to check your state’s vehicle gas emission regulations before purchasing it.
- Stainless steel clamshell body
- Equally efficient with gas and diesel engines
- Equipped with an oxygen sensor
- The inlet and outlet pipes have a 2.5-inch diameters
- 50.000-mile construction and 25.000-mile emission warranty
- Compatible with a variety of vehicles regardless of the engine they have
- Sturdy and durable
- Non-CARB compliant
7. AUTOSAVER88 ATCC006 Universal Catalytic Converter
AUTOSAVER88 ACTC006 is a universal catalytic converter that is very similar to the MagnaFlow 51356 model. However, it is only compatible with OBD2 vehicles that have gasoline engines, which means that you cannot install it on cars that are manufactured before 1996.
The body is made out of stainless steel to ensure the catalytic converter’s durability, while the internal ceramic substrates and the metallic finish are designed to enhance a vehicle’s performance.
Both inlet and outlet pipes have 2.5-inch diameters, which makes them compatible with most exhaust systems on OBD2 vehicles. This catalytic converter is EPA certified, but it doesn’t comply with the CARB standards, which is the reason why you must check if it is against the law to install it in your car.
You will receive a 5-year or 50.000-mile warranty if you opt for this universal catalytic converter, which speaks volumes about its durability. However, its reduction and oxidation capabilities are modest, and you’ll probably find better options in the same price range.
- Universal catalytic converter for OBD2 vehicles
- The body is made of stainless steel
- Inlet and outlet pipes have 2.5-inch diameters
- EPA certified catalytic converter
- 5-year guaranty
- Reliable aftermarket catalytic converter for OBD2 vehicles
- No oxygen sensor
8. AUTOSAVER88 Pontiac G6 Catalytic Converter
If you are looking for a catalytic converter that is compatible with Pontiac G6, Chevy Malibu or Saturn Aura, then AUTOSAVER88 Pontiac G6 catalytic converter is a great pick for you.
Unlike the AUTOSAVER88 ACTC006 Pontiac G6 is a direct fit catalytic converter that is only compatible with a limited range of vehicles. Furthermore, its internal substrates are made of precious metals that maximize its oxidation capabilities.
Consequently, the Pontiac G6 catalytic converter ensures the smooth flow and conversion of harmful exhaust gases and gives a boost to a car’s overall performance. What’s more, this catalytic converter reduces the chances that the MIL error codes are going to activate the check engine light.
However, you must check the exhaust gas emission regulations before you purchase Pontiac G6 catalytic converter, as it is only EPA compliant, and it may be illegal to use it in your state.
- Smooth and stable exhaust gas flow that eliminates backpressure
- Simple installation to an existing exhaust system
- The precious metal internal substrates
- Compatible with post OBD2 car models
- 50.000-mile warranty
- Excellent oxidation capacity
- No modifications required during installation
- Compatible with only a handful of car models
9. Flowmaster 2230130 223 Series 3 Inlet/Outlet Universal Catalytic Converter
Flowmaster 2230130 223 Series 3 is one of the best three-way catalytic converters we included in our selection, as its exhaust gas oxidation and reduction capabilities can be compared to those provided by AUTOSAVER88 Nissan Altima or MagnaFlow 51356.
The catalytic converter’s body is made of stainless steel, while the internal substrates are made out of ceramic and precious metals. Flowmaster 2230130 223 Series 3 is designed for vehicles that weigh over 5500lb and have 5,9L engines.
Despite being a universal catalytic converter, Flowmaster 2230130 223 Series 3 is relatively easy to install, although it is not advisable to perform this task on your own if you don’t have the necessary experience.
This catalytic converter increases a vehicle’s fuel efficiency and improves its acceleration capabilities while ensuring that MIL light remains off. Flowmaster 2230130 223 Series 3 catalytic converter is not CARB compliant, and it may be illegal to install it in some states.
- Matches 5500lb, 5.9L engines
- Equipped with a ceramic core
- Compatible with a broad range of vehicles
- Boosts a vehicle’s fuel efficiency
- Stainless steel construction
- Minimizes the smell of exhaust gases
- Lightweight and easy to install
- Doesn’t have a heat shield
10. Morphon Catalytic Converter
Mophron Catalytic Converter is a direct fit catalytic converter designed for Subaru Impreza models manufactured between 2004 and 2011. It is a perfect OEM replacement as it improves the flow of exhaust gases and decreases the vehicle’s fuel consumption.
The internal honeycomb structure provides sufficient oxidation space and vouches for the efficient reduction of harmful exhaust gases. This catalytic converter is made out of stainless steel, which ensures its durability and ensures that catalyst substrates remain protected against damages even while you are driving through rough terrains.
The installation process doesn’t involve welding or cutting of the inlet and outlet pipes, as you just have to tighten it to the car’s exhaust system.
Mophron Catalytic Converter is both OBD2 and EPA compliant, which means that you can use it in all states that haven’t adopted the CARB regulations. This a high-quality product that offers a slight improvement from the Subaru Impreza’s OEM catalytic converter.
- Stainless steel construction
- Internal honeycomb structure
- High exhaust flow capacity
- Flanges are designed to fit the car models compatible with this catalytic converter
- Features three gaskets, three stud bolts, and nine nuts
- Excellent replacement for Subar Impreza’s OEM catalytic converter
- EPA and OBD2 compliant
- Limited compatibility
FAQs About Catalytic Converters
Is it necessary to replace both catalytic converters at the same time?
Even though most cars have just one catalytic converter, some models may have a second catalytic converter that serves as a backup. In case you have a car that has two catalytic converters, you should consult with your mechanic before deciding if you should replace both catalytic converters.
Which type of catalytic converter do diesel cars use?
Diesel vehicles use two-way catalytic converters that are commonly known as Diesel Oxidation Catalysts.
How much do catalytic converters cost?
The price of a catalyst converter varies depending on the type, model, and features. You can pay anywhere between $50 and several hundred dollars for a catalytic converter, and you should also factor in the cost of installation.
What metals do catalytic converters contain?
Even though most catalytic converters rely on precious metals like platinum, rhodium, or palladium for oxidation purposes, some models can also contain iron, copper, or nickel.
Replacing an OEM catalytic converter isn’t an easy task, as there is so much you need to know about your car’s exhaust system and gas emission regulations. Opting for a universal catalytic converter like Flowmaster 2230130 223 Series 3 or AUTOSAVER88 ACTC006 is a more affordable option if you don’t mind all the extra steps you need to take during the installation process.
We recommend the AUTOSAVER88 Nissan Altima 2.5L Direct Fit the most because it doesn’t have to be welded to the car’s exhaust system, and it matches both OBD2 and EPA standards. Also, this catalytic converter will improve your car’s performance by reducing its fuel consumption and boosting its acceleration capabilities.
We hope that this guide has provided you with all the information you need to find an aftermarket replacement for your vehicle’s catalytic converter. Which catalytic convert are you going to choose? Leave a comment below or follow this link to read our guide about auto engines.