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Cant Buy A Used Catalytic Converter?


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23 replies to this topic

#1 tlewis

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Posted February 9, 2006 at 07:12 pm

I am trying to buy a used catalytic converter for the 92 - 97 LH 3.5L engine, but all the local junk yards say it is a $10K EPA fine to resell a used converter. Assuming this is true, does anyone know who the OEM was for that converter? Yes, I know they are all over ebay, but that is not what I am looking for.

#2 Bob Lincoln

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Posted February 9, 2006 at 08:48 pm

I have an Autozone aftermarket in mine, passed emissions with flying colors. Cheaper than from the dealer.

It is illegal to install a used catcon. Why even think of it? A new one has a warranty and generally is not too expensive.

BTW, it is also illegal in MA for junkyards to sell used brake parts. Just not worth the safety risk.

#3 rampage

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Posted February 9, 2006 at 10:07 pm

I've got some used motor oil for sale if you're interested.

#4 ecs

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Posted February 10, 2006 at 12:54 am

If you are looking for a used one that means you're trying to save money.... and looking for an OEM means big $$.... so get a universal one off ebay and be done with it?

#5 olbuddyjack (converted)

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Posted February 10, 2006 at 04:50 am

Actually they can sell a used one but it has to be tested and recertified. Just not worth the trouble.

#6 Marcos

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Posted February 10, 2006 at 06:56 am

I put an aftermarket direct-fit on my Jeep so it would pass safety inspection. Later, it had no problems passing emissions inspection. Direct-fit basically meant it had the proper pipes already welded to the front and back. The new converter body was significantly smaller than the old one, but it did not affect performance any. It was made by Arvin-Meritor and cost about $130, while a new one from Chrysler would have cost $650.

#7 Bearhawke

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Posted February 10, 2006 at 07:13 am

I have an Autozone aftermarket in mine, passed emissions with flying colors. Cheaper than from the dealer.

It is illegal to install a used catcon. Why even think of it? A new one has a warranty and generally is not too expensive.

BTW, it is also illegal in MA for junkyards to sell used brake parts. Just not worth the safety risk.


Used brake parts as in pads or shoes or is Ma referring to things like rotors, calipers, etc?

Funny story about old catalysts: about 12 years ago I worked on a ca. 1973 Ford Econoline van with Guatamala license plates here in Arizona..........the 302 V8 had dual exhausts----------one side was a muffler and the other was a catalytic converter. Note that cats were not even used prior to the 1975 model year :lol:

#8 tlewis

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Posted February 10, 2006 at 09:07 am

Here's why I am looking for a used converter, and no it is not to disable the emissions (I can knock out the ceramic honeycomb any time I want to). The first generation 3.5L V6 uses a converter that has two 2.5" inlets, and only one 2.5" outlet. I want to buy a used (really cheaper) converter, cut off the front end, cut off the back end of mine, and weld it back together. At this point, I will have an "H" pattern converter that will allow me to easily install dual pipes downstream of the converter, while the converter still cleans up the emissions, and also provides a "cross over" for the dual pipes. Now, after all that trouble, if it does not work as expected, I would put a new one back on, along with the original single exhaust pipe.

Found one on ebay for $20, which is reasonable for an "experiment" for a 10 year old Intrepid

#9 Bob Lincoln

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Posted February 10, 2006 at 09:16 am

Used brake parts as in pads or shoes or is Ma referring to things like rotors, calipers, etc?

http://www.mass.gov/...s/mgl/90-7g.htm
Chapter 90: Section 7G. Used brake drums; servicing, sale or grinding; prohibition


Section 7G. No person shall service, install, give away, or sell or offer for sale, for use on a passenger motor vehicle, a used brake drum the interior diameter of which exceeds sixty-thousandths of one inch maximum oversize, nor shall any person turn or grind a used brake drum for use on a passenger vehicle to an interior diameter any greater than sixty-thousandths of one inch maximum oversize. Whoever violates any provision of this section shall be punished by a fine of not more than five hundred dollars. No person shall sell, offer or expose for sale, or have in his possession with intent to sell any brake drum or brake disc designed for use on a motor vehicle, which drum or disc was manufactured after January first, nineteen hundred and seventy-one, whether as original or replacement equipment, unless such drum or disc is permanently and plainly marked to clearly indicate the maximum safe diameter or minimum safe thickness to which it may be worn, ground or turned; provided, that after said date no person shall install on any motor vehicle or trailer any brake drum the inside diameter of which exceeds said maximum safe diameter nor shall any person install any disc brake rotor the thickness of which is less than said minimum safe thickness.

http://www.mass.gov/...s/mgl/90-7h.htm
Chapter 90: Section 7H. Brake linings; minimum safety standards


Section 7H. No person shall sell, offer for sale, distribute or install brake linings for use on motor vehicles unless they are of a type and specification approved by the registrar. Under authority granted by section seven, the registrar shall adopt such regulations governing types and specifications of brake linings as to comply with approved safety standards, and shall establish and maintain an approved list of brake linings which meet the specifications so established.

Since a junkyard can't guarantee they meet this, they can't sell used parts.


tlewis, problem with what you want to do is that it isn't a tested design and may or may not pass emissions. Where you live, they may allow it if it still passes. In MA, you are not even allowed to alter the factory design. So if you have single exhaust and replace it with duals that still pass emissions, it's still not allowed. Not saying that it's fair, or even that it's enforced (lots of inspection criteria are ignored here), but that's how the law is written.

#10 gearhead

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Posted February 10, 2006 at 10:22 am

http://www.mass.gov/...s/mgl/90-7g.htm
Chapter 90: Section 7G. Used brake drums; servicing, sale or grinding; prohibition
Section 7G. No person shall service, install, give away, or sell or offer for sale, for use on a passenger motor vehicle, a used brake drum the interior diameter of which exceeds sixty-thousandths of one inch maximum oversize, nor shall any person turn or grind a used brake drum for use on a passenger vehicle to an interior diameter any greater than sixty-thousandths of one inch maximum oversize. Whoever violates any provision of this section shall be punished by a fine of not more than five hundred dollars. No person shall sell, offer or expose for sale, or have in his possession with intent to sell any brake drum or brake disc designed for use on a motor vehicle, which drum or disc was manufactured after January first, nineteen hundred and seventy-one, whether as original or replacement equipment, unless such drum or disc is permanently and plainly marked to clearly indicate the maximum safe diameter or minimum safe thickness to which it may be worn, ground or turned; provided, that after said date no person shall install on any motor vehicle or trailer any brake drum the inside diameter of which exceeds said maximum safe diameter nor shall any person install any disc brake rotor the thickness of which is less than said minimum safe thickness.

Since a junkyard can't guarantee they meet this, they can't sell used parts.


Seems to me a junkyard would only need to invest $100-$200 in measuring equipment to satisfy that law. As long as they can verify the drum/rotor thickness, they can sell used brake parts (drums & rotors). That law doesn't prohibit the sale of used brake parts, it just regulates it. I'm willing to be the same law, in one form or another, is in effect in most states. I know that the 4 states I've lived in a shop can't legally turn drums or rotors if they will exceed the max. dia. noted on the drum/rotor after turning. I've never had any problem buying used drums/rotors in those states.

Edited by gearhead, February 10, 2006 at 10:24 am.


#11 Bob Lincoln

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Posted February 10, 2006 at 01:00 pm

No junkyard wants to do that physical verification and keep records - it just doesn't pay. There's still a liability risk that they don't want. Besides, what if there are undetected cracks? Do you think they're going to do Zyglo testing? :blink: :lol:

#12 gearhead

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Posted February 10, 2006 at 02:48 pm

No junkyard wants to do that physical verification and keep records - it just doesn't pay. There's still a liability risk that they don't want. Besides, what if there are undetected cracks? Do you think they're going to do Zyglo testing? :blink: :lol:

The requirements and liability would be the same for Midas, and any other repair shop that does brake work. They turn drums and rotors every day as part of their brake service. Most auto parts stores also turn drums and rotors. I don't know any of them that do Zyglo testing. All I'm pointing out is that it's not illegal to sell used brake parts. Misconception breeds some strange conclusions.

#13 Bob Lincoln

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Posted February 10, 2006 at 04:08 pm

The requirements and liability would be the same for Midas, and any other repair shop that does brake work. They turn drums and rotors every day as part of their brake service. Most auto parts stores also turn drums and rotors.

Yep, that's their business. Junkyards are not going to waste time verifying that parts are good, and machining them if they're not. Caveat emptor is the rule of the automotive salvage yard. As-is. They don't specialize in brake parts.

As far as illegality, this was the first time I'd sought out the law on it and read it. It has been a common story, handed out by the junkyards. But this virtually guarantees that brake linings can't be sold used:

Section 7H. No person shall sell, offer for sale, distribute or install brake linings for use on motor vehicles unless they are of a type and specification approved by the registrar. Under authority granted by section seven, the registrar shall adopt such regulations governing types and specifications of brake linings as to comply with approved safety standards, and shall establish and maintain an approved list of brake linings which meet the specifications so established. All the registrar has to do is specify that used parts are not approved.

#14 Webslinger60

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Posted February 10, 2006 at 05:29 pm

The used Cat issues is a state/federal regulation. Simply put, they dont want the end user either knowingly or unknowingly using a Cat with too small an element to be functional and/or effective. There are too many different applications and too many variables. Incorrect applications are a problem too. Have you ever seen a Cat glow red, cause the mixture or timing was not right? They dont want cars burning on the street.

If you want a used Cat only in order to get the ends, to weld onto a new universal Cat, then you are not tying to skirt the law, but actually comply with it. Thats a grey area.
Ya know, companies like Walker, Maremont, etc, used to make "installation kits" which consist of the ends you mentioned. And they were commonly sold in stores. But the EPA gave the stores such grief that they stopped selling them. See, people were making "race pipes" or "bypass test-pipes" out of them. But now you cant get them even if you legitimately want to install a new Cat. I imagine you may be able to get them somewhere, but you'll have to do some searching.

FYI- JC Whitney used to sell a Uni-Cat with two inlets and two outlets. That may be just what you need.


As for the used brake parts, I would imagine the junkyards are more concerned with lawsuits, than state saftey regulations. They dont want amateurs slamming into walls after doing a botch-job with used parts.
Only a moron would re-install used pads/shoes, or gouged rotors, but there are plenty of morons out there.

As for official regulations, I supposed it depends state to state. I can understand not selling worn/thin drums & rotors, to keep the morons safe, but that shouldnt affect the selling of other brake parts. We're always reading posts describing upgrading the brakes, like going from 10 to 11" drums, or putting the larger R-body front disc brakes on an FJM. Those are all used swaps. What about when you buy a complete rear "drum-to-drum"? I've bought plenty of assemblies with brake parts still attached. The junkman never run out og his shack and said "hey I gotta take the brake parts off that before you take it home"

Edited by Webslinger60, February 10, 2006 at 05:35 pm.


#15 tlewis

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Posted February 10, 2006 at 09:19 pm

Gee guys, we're getting a little off topic with the brakes, junkmen and Mass. laws. I agree 100% that used cat converters should not be sold as replacement units, in addition to brakes, etc. Any time you buy anything from the junkyard, you are taking a risk, although they have served me well through the years.

JC Whitney does indeed sell an "H" pattern cat converter for $150, thanks for the tip. Once again, I am retaining my own cat converter, which has exceeded emissions requirements for 10 years, and simply changing the outlet. I have a source for a used cat converter, but if the total cost of the used converter and cutting and welding exceeds the $150, then I'll get the new one.

#16 Webslinger60

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Posted February 11, 2006 at 04:33 pm

JC Whitney does indeed sell an "H" pattern cat converter for $150, thanks for the tip. Once again, I am retaining my own cat converter, which has exceeded emissions requirements for 10 years, and simply changing the outlet. I have a source for a used cat converter, but if the total cost of the used converter and cutting and welding exceeds the $150, then I'll get the new one.


They were $135 back in Sept (2005), oh well?
I was almost gonna use one of these in a GM application where the OEM cat squeezes all 8 cyl into a single cat, then out to duals again. (duals being almost useless at that point and just for appearance)
But the main benifit of this Cat is that it is dual-in and dual-out, not just a Y-onto-1 (Im not familiar with your early 3.5 Cat but I think thats the way it's made, right?)
So it's very close to real dual exhaust as far as flow, and you have the added benifit of balance between cylinder banks, almost like an H-pipe. It's only drawback it that in only comes in ONE size 2.0" (a 2.25" would be nice) but what the hey?

#17 Bearhawke

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Posted February 11, 2006 at 06:42 pm

Call me cynical here: having personally done five front drum to disc brake conversions on personal vehicles over the years...........I almost wonder if I am violation of the law for 'non standard' brakes on antique cars.

Yet: each vehicle stopped much better with significantly less fade, lockup, etc.

Needless to say: even if 'illegal'; I will continue to upgrade my older stuff model year 1974 on down vis a vis safety, emissions and fuel economy :D

#18 ShelbyDodgeImp

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Posted February 11, 2006 at 07:53 pm

My take on cats & laws...

Several years ago, for a past project I bought a (no longer made today) 58" long patriot brand sidepipes kit (3"), which was enough (hangers and everything) for a dual exhaust.

I then needed cats to go with the system so I hit ebay, I found a guy who had a wrecked custom mustang, which had two brand spanking new (under 2k miles on them before the wreck) high flow 3" cats- perfect.

So I bought them for $30 total (for the pair, including shipping).

I still have them under my bed.

They are brand spanking new- never even got dirty or rusty, shinny like they just came out of the plastic, but I have never been able to use them due to the laws prohibiting the installation of used cats.

So they sit collecting dust in case I find an application where I can use them, in the mean time when I had my Dynasty's exhaust done (using parts from the sidepipes kit) I just didn't use one of my 3" highflow cats.

From what it sounds like, you can't legally mess with modifiying the cat generally speaking, even if you are leaving the element alone- if you want to make it look like you have dual exhaust, get a single inlet dual outlet cat (they exist, rare but a few places have them) or throw a Ypipe after the cat, or throw a Ypipe before the cat and run two cats.

NOTE that in many states you can not modify ANYTHING in front of the cat with the exhaust system, including the manifold with newer cars- NY being one of them.

#19 tlewis

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Posted February 12, 2006 at 08:41 pm

They were $135 back in Sept (2005), oh well?
I was almost gonna use one of these in a GM application where the OEM cat squeezes all 8 cyl into a single cat, then out to duals again. (duals being almost useless at that point and just for appearance)
But the main benifit of this Cat is that it is dual-in and dual-out, not just a Y-onto-1 (Im not familiar with your early 3.5 Cat but I think thats the way it's made, right?)
So it's very close to real dual exhaust as far as flow, and you have the added benifit of balance between cylinder banks, almost like an H-pipe. It's only drawback it that in only comes in ONE size 2.0" (a 2.25" would be nice) but what the hey?



Thanks, glad that someone else sees the light. Actually, if you do the math, two 2.0" outlets are better than the riginal one 2.5" outlet. Besides with the Chrysler standard MAP system, I don't want the exhaust backpressure to be too far out for the computer to handle. There is supposed to be another dual universal cat converter out there by Walker, but I found conflicting information on wheter the inlets are 2.5 and outlets are 2.0 or vice versa. It doesn't matter much to me, because the Manaflow 94008 is only $80 on ebay, including shipping, and that is worth paying for, as compared to my original idea of welding two converter front ends together. Live and learn.

#20 Webslinger60

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Posted February 13, 2006 at 02:14 pm

Several years ago, for a past project I bought a kit for a dual exhaust. I then needed cats to go with the system so I hit ebay, I found two brand spanking new high flow 3" cats- perfect. - but I have never been able to use them due to the laws prohibiting the installation of used cats.


Is your issue, you cant use non-original Cats, or cant use used Cats?
Because if the Cats you bought only have a few thousand miles on them, how will the inspectors know, that those few thousands were not racked-up, while on your vehicle? You could say they were installed a few months ago, and that would accout for a little bit of rust & road dirt. If you have to produce a receipt, just get a reciept pad from Staples, make one out to yourself, and say you bought the Cats from a vendor at a carshow or flew market.

If they are very different from OEM, have to be cut, hacked, re-welded, then there is no hiding they are for a different application. But if it's a neat job, who's to say where you got them, or if they were ever in-service on another vehicle?

Edited by Webslinger60, February 13, 2006 at 02:16 pm.



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