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My check engine light came on and the diagnostic code says it is a problem with the catalytic converters so I'm getting ready to schedule an appointment with a mechanic to take care of that.

The dealer (who did the diagnostic) claims that both of them are probably bad and they run about $1K each. Maybe he was including labor, but it sure didn't sound like it from the way he said it. In any event, I'm gonna shop around if it is going to be that expensive. Before I do, however, I did some of my own research on parts retailer web site to make sure I don't get ripped off.

When I searched on my make/model it came up with a variety of options, but they seemed to fall into two price ranges ~$40 and ~$400. I'm not enough of a car guy to know the difference, but that seems like a massive price swing for the same kind of part.

Now I am really confused. Can someone who understands exhaust systems explain what the difference in a $40 and $400 catalytic converter is in terms that a non-mechanic would understand?

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Based on the link provided, I assume the ~400$ piece looks like 2 converter based on original equipment(OE) design, or as when the car came out of factory. Those at ~40$ looks more like an aftermarket replacement, with 1 converter and some installation required (welding and exhaust modification) while the OE is bolt-on.

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I wasn't really asking about why the price changes for the same converter over time, that makes sense to me. More about why the different converters vary in price so much. But I think you answered that too, upvote for you. –  JohnFx Jan 24 '12 at 15:29
    
Yeah, that what happen when you do 2 thing at the same time. I fix that. Thanks. –  Gabriel Mongeon Jan 24 '12 at 16:30
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