Buying a catalytic converter could be a daunting task for many car owners. This is mainly due to the endless selections on the market nowadays. This automotive component is very essential in every car, especially the modern ones, acting as an addition to the exhaust system of a vehicle so as to address the increasing concerns over hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, and many other toxic emissions related to combustion engines.
A very good catalytic converter surely helps in ensuring that your vehicle emission contributes as little damage as possible to the entire environmental pollution. Thus, different governments mandate that every vehicle should install a properly functioning converter for such environmental reasons.
With that said, this guideline will take you through the proper process of choosing the best catalytic converter brand, enabling you to purchase the correct auto part that meets the corresponding federal and/or state regulations.
Best Catalytic Converter Reviews
1. Magnaflow 99205HM
- EPA COMPLIANT - This catalytic converter is designed to meet or exceed Federal EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) OBDII emissions requirements in compliance with legal standards for federally registered vehicles with California or Federal EPA emissions systems. NOT for use in California, Colorado, New York, Maine.
- UNIVERSAL INSTALLATION - Universal catalytic converters allow you to place it in the exact location and orientation required for your vehicle. Professional installation is highly recommended.
- STAINLESS STEEL CONSTRUCTION - Durable stainless-steel construction and integrated OEM-like O2 ports guarantee optimal catalytic converter performance and reliability. The clamshell design features a continuous seam weld that ensures superior thermal insulation.
- HEAVY METAL GRADE - Built to HM Grade standards, meaning that it contains extra catalysts to further improve the conversion of unwanted emissions.
- 5 YEAR / 50,000-MILE LIMITED WARRANTY - Worry-free ownership is made possible thanks to the 5 year/50,000-mile construction and 25,000-mile emissions warranty included with this MagnaFlow catalytic converter.
A catalytic converter used in cars is the Magnaflow 99205HM. With an average customer rating of 4.2 stars, this widely used cat con is universal and non-CARB compliant. It has a special design that helps in increasing the torque and horsepower of your vehicle. It boasts an overall design of high-grade stainless steel, ensuring long-lasting durability.
This cat con is also corrosion resistant, while facilitating quick and easy installation. The Magnaflow could be the best aftermarket catalytic converter brand, considering the 5-year warranty or 25,000-mile warranty.
While it is not available for sale in California, the Magnaflow 99205HM ensures high flow. It is because all Magnaflow converters offer the same configuration. Its new universal design is a spun-body cat con without welds. This allows for optimal durability while the maximum CFM flow is achieved because it does not contain metallic substrate.
The Magnaflow 99205HM is ideal for engines up to 6,000-pound test weight and 6.2L capacity. This aftermarket catalytic converter has been a top choice for many modified engines. Hence, this product has created a lot of positive feedback from actual users.
Many users of this cat con say that the Magnaflow 99205HM is a great purchase and last longer than expected. For a long time, there are no issues on damages as other brands of cat cons tend to affect other automotive parts. It helps in solving engine problems, including issues on oil. All in all, the Magnaflow 99205HM aftermarket cat converter is well made and works great in different vehicles.
2. Walker 16370
- EPA COMPLIANT -- For use on OBDII vehicles, 1996 and newer. Not legal for sale or use in CA & CO. Legal in NY & ME on EPA Federal Emission Equipped Vehicles only. Consult your state's aftermarket converter regulations for details.
- DIRECT-FIT DESIGN -- Direct-fit bolt-on replacement solution with OE-style hangers, brackets, routings and heat shields for easy installation that doesn't require specialized fabrication and/or welding
- KEEPS CHECK ENGINE LIGHT OFF FOR EMISSIONS CODES -- OE-style high-technology washcoat and optimal precious metal load delivers required reduction in tailpipe emissions to match vehicle application
- STRONG AND DURABLE -- Features thick OE-style flanges, hangers and brackets for strength and durability
- OE-STYLE DESIGN -- Features aluminized heat shields when originally equipped, to match OE design, protecting the undercarriage from heat created by the converter
Among the reliable aftermarket catalytic converters is the Walker 16370, which is a direct-fit cat con with a 4.5-star average rating. It is reliable since the Walker brand has been an industry leader when it comes to domestic and import applications, offering direct-fit cat cons for OBDII vehicles.
The Walker 16370 has been designed for specific vehicle emission requirements while featuring high loads of precious materials and maximum substrate content. The high-technology washcoat tends to provide premium performance. The overall design ensures durability, complying with EPA emission requirements at the same time.
In addition, this aftermarket converter boasts a flange-to-flange design, allowing you to bolt to the current exhaust system. The stainless steel aluminized body and the pipe heat shields allow for maximum durability, unlike regular models of cat cons. For added strength, it also offers thick OE-styled flanges, brackets, and hangers.
Certainly, the hanger position and the OE-style routing allow for quick and easy installation of such direct-fit cat cons. The expandable bushings, on the other hand, allow for convenient installation of the universal counterpart.
Without a doubt, the Walker 16370 is an aftermarket catalytic converter that continually generates happy customers. After using the necessary bolts and nuts, this cat con surely works great without issues on noise or leakage. This cat con is just the right choice of the converter, resulting in not only better torque and horsepower but also better air quality.
3. Flowmaster 2230130
- Catalytic converter
- Excellent flow characteristics
- Engineered to keep the "MIL" light off
- Stainless steel construction
- Durable and long lasting
On the other hand, the 4.6-Star-rated Flowmaster 2230130 is a 3-inch inlet/outlet cat con. This could be the best universal catalytic converter since it is a 49-state cat con with an exclusive design that meets the federal EPA emission regulations for different applications.
Manufactured in the United States, this high-quality converter features a stainless steel outer shell body for optimal durability. It boasts an internal substrate material, while the precious metal loading has been thoroughly engineered for optimum efficiency. The same technology helps in the prevention of “MIL” code issues, which have been common in low-grade converters.
This universal fit catalytic converter also requires fabrication or welding, requiring the expertise of qualified technicians during installation. While this 49-state converter is not legal to use for California-based vehicles, it still maintains exceptional flow characteristics for a wide array of vehicle types and models.
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Furthermore, this non-carb compliant cat con has been generating a lot of positive feedback from customers nationwide. The Flowmaster 2230130 has satisfied a particular owner of an F350, allowing his truck to breathe better. Many owners of this cat con also say that it is very compact and lightweight without issues on flow restrictions.
Indeed, the Flowmaster 2230130 is a reliable replacement catalytic converter that fits perfectly on many exhaust systems of different vehicles, while passing inspection at the same time. It allows for a flawless installation without so many issues or delays, unlike low-grade converters. Hence, its durable construction and actual efficiency made this converter a highly recommended product.
4. Eastern 70318
- This item is not for sale in California/Non CARB compliant
- Converter Body Material: Stainless Steel
- Model Number:70318
- Package Dimensions: 5" L x 5" W x 15" H
Last, but definitely not the least, is the 4.3-Star-rated Eastern 70318, which is also a non-CARB compliant catalytic converter. It is not available for sale and use in the state of California, thus, it is a 49-state cat con, which comes in handy throughout the remaining states.
This cat con is very efficient in reducing, if not eliminating all those unwanted codes, ranging from EGR valve to mass airflow sensor, and other codes associated with O2 sensors. It is also helpful in relieving the issues on poor uphill and towing performances, including under load problems.
This aftermarket catalytic con is widely used and highly recommended by different muffler shops throughout the country, provided that it fits the vehicle’s exhaust system. Hence, it brings any crappy-running vehicle to its almost brand new condition and operation. After a thorough welding, this cat con greatly helps in clearing all check engine warnings, bringing your vehicle to a new life.
The Eastern 70318 is surely a reliable cat con without hesitation or issues and zero codes. With this converter, many users are continuously testifying that their vehicles got back their original power. And with half the price compared to other brands, it still manages to last long, for as long as six years and more.
To buy a catalytic converter is never a problem with the Eastern 70318’s availability and affordability, even considering the cost of labor. Basically, this cat con works great, resulting in a better acceleration as well as reduced check engine warnings.
Catalytic Converter Buying Guide
By now, you are already aware of the benefits that a catalytic converter offers in a vehicle’s exhaust system, including its overall performance. This emission control device basically converts toxic emissions from your vehicle’s combustion engine into the “less” toxic pollutants.
Regardless of the internal complexities of this converter, the chemical reactions within such device largely depend on the types of catalytic converters in cars. So this section will give you a more detailed view on the cat con types and many other factors worth considering when shopping for this device.
Types of Catalysts
In terms of the catalyst types, you can choose between the two-way and the three-way converters. Below is a brief identification and description of these catalysts types.
- Two-way – The two-way types of catalytic converter are commonly used in diesel engines. This type of cat con greatly helps in reducing excessive carbon monoxide and hydrocarbon emissions. This converter performs in a two-way task, including the oxidation of carbon monoxide into carbon dioxide, alongside the oxidation of hydrocarbons into water and carbon dioxide.
- Three-way – Meanwhile, the three-way converters are usually found in virtually all gasoline-powered engines and light-duty vehicles. This type of converter adds another benefit – controls the nitrous oxide emission. Keep in mind that this substance is among the most powerful greenhouse gases, which contributes to the ozone layer’s depletion. Therefore, the three-way converter helps in reducing nitrogen oxides, while it helps in the oxidation of carbon monoxide into carbon dioxide, and finally, helps in the oxidation of hydrocarbons into water and carbon dioxide.
Important Note: Because the primary nature of cat cons is to regulate toxic emissions, these devices are highly controlled or regulated by the federal and state. Hence, it is crucial to be aware of your corresponding location as well as the current cat con regulations before buying or installing such device.
When it comes to selecting the configuration of cat cons, you are provided with two choices: the direct-fit or the universal-fit. Many people are confused between the configurations and the different types of catalytic converters. So, to resolve that issue, this section of the article will help you narrow down the choices involving the designs or configurations of cat cons for your vehicle.
- Direct-Fit – While a direct-fit cat con is a self-explanatory configuration, it is still better to discuss this specific design into a more detailed explanation. So, a direct-fit converter has been designed to bolt directly to an existing or exact system without fabrications and modifications. It is a highly recommended design for exhaust systems that still have the original factory configurations. It is also the perfect choice for the DIYers who perform auto repair works without added tools or applications like welding, for instance.
- Universal-Fit – On the other hand, the universal-fit converter requires some modifications or fabrications such as welding so that it will fit into the vehicle’s system. It is a highly recommended design for vehicles with already-existing universal-fit can cons. A universal fit catalytic converter replacement is a more cost-effective choice over the direct-fit.
California Air Resources Board
The California Air Resources Board, also referred to as CARB began the strict inaction and regulation of aftermarket catalytic converter types within California in January 2009, whereas in January 2004, New York adopted the same regulations. To make it short, individuals who are buying cat cons in California and NY should buy CA emissions catalytic converters. Otherwise, anyone who is not in these states is eligible to buy federal emissions catalytic converters.
Choosing Catalytic Converters
As a discerning buyer of cat cons, there are many factors that you can consider in order to arrive at the best choice possible. These factors include the make, model, and year of the item, including the brand, and choosing between the aftermarket and OEM converters.
Remember that converters come in different styles and sizes, based on the vehicle to where they fit in. Those who are considering replacing their converters should identify their vehicle’s make, model, and year in order to pick the perfect part.
Meanwhile, aftermarket catalytic converter reviews usually focus on the benefits of these designs over the OEM converters. Original Equipment Manufacturer or OEM parts are still preferred by many vehicle owners over the aftermarket counterparts. It is important to know that the OEM parts are usually easier to install and fit better than most aftermarket parts.
However, other people go for the aftermarket converters simply because of the rarity of OEM parts as finding them becomes very difficult year after year. Also, the aftermarket converters are said to deliver higher flow than OEM converters; thereby, resulting in an improved torque and horsepower.
Choosing the best catalytic converter is also possible based on the specific brand. The aftermarket auto part industry is composed of a wide array of manufacturers and brands that you can choose from. Brands such as the Magnaflow, Walker, Flowmaster, and Eastern are just among the most reputable names you can count on when it comes to catalytic converters. Most of these items also offer simple installation processes, while accommodating most vehicle types.
Buying a catalytic converter does not always mean that you should also buy other parts with it. However, there are converter models that might require or might work more effectively, alongside other auto parts and/or accessories.
Among the things you can consider are oxygen sensors since these auto parts are very essential throughout the emission system of your vehicle. The old O2 sensors in vehicles are frequently responsible for the failure of such system or the main source of error codes and check engine warnings. Thus, the replacement of oxygen sensors may, as well, be necessary with a converter replacement. There are many brands and manufacturers that offer oxygen sensor kits, aside from catalytic converters.
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Moreover, an exhaust may be needed as well as other exhaust parts like exhaust pipe, exhaust manifold, and exhaust headers. It is always best to rely on the mechanic’s suggestions and recommendations in order to achieve optimum engine performance at all times.
As you choose between catalytic converter universal vs direct fit, it is also sensible to take note of the device’s cost and the labor cost as well. The combined cost of the labor and auto part varies largely, depending on the vehicle type. Again, the style you choose contributes to the overall costs of such repair work.
But, there are several tips you can bring along as shop for cat cons, allowing you to save more money. For one, you can buy such device through online dealerships because these resources oftentimes offer the most reasonable price tags over in-stores. Buying universal catalytic converter vs direct fit is also recommended as this style has a lower price.
However, the labor and the entire repair work may require more time and professional assistance due to the cutting or welding of pipes in order to arrive at the proper fit.
For those who want to save some cash on labor costs, it is sensible to go for the direct-fit converter. This style allows you to install the device by yourself as there are no cutting or welding necessary. It also requires lesser time for the installation process than the universal counterparts.
Regardless of the types of catalytic converters, it is important to keep in mind that these devices are essential components in every vehicle’s exhaust system. They are highly capable of converting harmful emissions into lesser pollutants that greatly affect the earth’s ozone layer; thereby, these catalytic converters reduce the levels of pollution throughout the atmosphere.
The aftermarket catalytic converters can be installed in a simple process, provided that you are equipped with the proper knowledge about this automotive part. As you shop for cat cons, always consider the reviewed products in this article as these converters are no less than the premium devices for most vehicles, allowing for improved torque and horsepower, while reducing harmful emissions at the same time.
All in all, take note of the corresponding regulations in your area, before purchasing in order to maximize the full potential of the best catalytic converters.