: Catalytic Converter - 1999 Chevy Suburban - What would you do?

02-21-2012, 07:33 PM
For those of you who know me, this is not a happy subject for me. My White 1999 Suburban which I bought 11 years ago hit 168,000 miles this past weekend. Yesterday, Jen & I went to Sioux Falls and took my Suburban. While there, the Service Engine Soon light pops on. None of the guages show anything to cause alarm, so I come back home and call our local car dealership.

Get a call after dinner. Catalytic Converter is starting to foul up. They estimate it to cost $1,300 to replace. I know my vehicle is not worth much and question repairing it. Talk to a salesman on a possible trade in. They will allow me $3,400 for trade "as is" and told me that I "might" get an additonal $500 if I fix the converter. They did something with the computer and told me that I may get some additional use before I start losing power, it starts taking a lot of gas, and it may just die sometime going down the road. It may be good for 6+ months and it could happen tomorrow.....

This vehicle has been an absolute dream for me. It is my pride and joy. Those of you who have seen it know it's been babied (absolutely no rust). However, I fear I may now start throwing good money after bad into it. This could be a fix that allows me to drive it another 50,000 miles. Or the transmission could go out the next day, or something else.

Do I bite the bullet and trade it in while there is value? Do I start throwing money into it? UGH!!

02-21-2012, 07:38 PM
I had one of these years ago and I work at a GM dealer. Gm cats are expensive even with my cost. So I went online and bought one at autozone for under $200. It was a direct replacement/fit and had a lifetime warranty. I never had any issues with it at all and I'd do that again in a second. Sometimes aftermarket parts like cats can be crappy at best but I got a good one and it saved me some coin.

02-21-2012, 07:44 PM
By starting to foul up do you mean plug up? That is common with catylac converters. Do you ever have your vehicle tested for emmisions? If not then you can simply just take your catylac converter off then ram a rod through one end to break up the honeycomb in pieces and ram it out the other end and when it's emptied out just put it back on. I know of quite a few people who have had to do that and they got their performance back and actually got bit more power after that. The cost of catylac converters is ridiculous.

02-21-2012, 08:00 PM
skis - call bucks muffler in sioux falls. they do great work at a very reasonable cost.
the dealership is going to tell you how great of a deal they will give you on trade just to get you into something else
the cost to fix the vehicle is going to be minimal in comparison to the car payments in return

Phil T
02-21-2012, 08:01 PM
When a vehicle's mileage exceeds 50,000, you can legally use an aftermarket converter. Many of those are of a higher flow rate than the OEM converter, so a slight increase in power is possible.

02-21-2012, 09:59 PM
Put on an aftermarket converter and replace the oxygen sensors while you are at it. Then drive it another 100k. Incidently, the old converter is probably worth at least $50 for scrap.


02-21-2012, 10:07 PM
Some converters are worth a couple hundred in scrap! I would go as cheap as possible on an after market. I had this happen at 200k on an econoline van while on a fiahing trip. A cold chisel and hammer fixed it for life, although it was a little louder for the next 50k miles. Lol

Car Nut
02-22-2012, 06:43 AM
Have them put a cat. con. test pipe on your car and drive it for a while to see if that is really the problem.
Then drive it a little longer. Then just forget about it. Happens all the time.

02-22-2012, 10:44 AM
I have a 98 GMC Safari. My converter went out I took it to my local mechanic. He got the whole front pipe ***'y, all welded together, took my sensors out of the old one and put them in the new one and installed it. Cost me $275 in all Good as new.

02-22-2012, 10:54 AM
Get a test pipe installed to make sure it's the converter causing your problem. ;)

02-22-2012, 11:02 AM
Replacements for $50-$300

http://www.discountcatalyticconverters.com/shop/?N=0&VN=4294967166+4294965721+4294965450+4294967132+429 4966840&Nr=AND(part:Catalytic+Converter)&events=partfinder

Take care

02-22-2012, 11:16 AM
They can test it with an engine analyzer to tell if it is bad. Do not buy just the converter,it's a nightmare to install trying to line up the pipes. Get the whole assembly, much easier to install.Got mine at Advance Auto, whole assembly.

Rod Holder
02-22-2012, 12:50 PM
I would think that if your engine was burning the gasoline improperly, your computer would have thrown a code to indicate such. If it is just old age catching up with your catalytic converter, even paying a mechanic to change it I think you can come out well ahead of the price the dealership was quoting. Remember, they have mixed interests, car selling vs. car repairing. Your '99 with a Vortec 350 is a good vehicle with a good engine. It probably has 100K miles left in it if you treat it right. What can and most likely will happen will be electrical problems beginning to show up. It is partly the nature of 12 V systems and old age does take its toll. I have a 2002 Yukon XL and some of the instrument panel lights have gone out. Replacing these is somewhat of a pain and I am getting ready to feel it when I have them relamped. Other electrical problems can drive a person berserk and in some cases the costs of repair can get quite high. This is when you'll really think about trading it. Good luck!

02-22-2012, 06:30 PM
Thanks for the replies so far. At this time, the mechanic had it hooked up to the computer and checked the codes. Basically says I may be fine for a while, but I may end up somewhere with no power and the gas mileage will begin to suck.

At this point & time, knowing how I treat vehicles, I'm leaning to upgrading vehicles and am going to look at purchasing a 07-08 Chevy Avalanche with 70-100,000 miles. My oldest son is going to be 13 in July, so I'm guessing I find a decent Avalanche and I'll hand him the keys when he turns 16 :)

02-22-2012, 09:03 PM
And what reason did he give for saying that eventually the gas and power would suck? The catylac converter or something else? If the converter then just simply clean it out and you will bring the 5.7 back to live, that's a very reliable motor. What did your mechanic even find? Just hooking it up to a computer doesn't say everything

02-23-2012, 02:09 PM
My '99 2500 Chevy truck's cats suddenly failed last year, with 123K miles. GM replacement cost - $2714. Bought after-market cats and found an indy shop. $540 dollars later, all is good, and the best mpg to date.

The computer did not throw a code until all was lost. Barely limped into a GM service center.

There was an interval time between removing the old plugged cats and the new. Had to drill out the old cats to allow the engine to run. And did it run!

Two months later and with the new cats on a long trip, average mileage both ways 16.3.
The best I've ever had from this 6.0L engine.

02-23-2012, 08:31 PM
A trouble code for a bad cat simply means the converter has lost it's efficiency. It does not mean it's plugged up. It may never give you a performance problem. Aftermarket cats are ok but I have seen quite a few of them only last 2-3 years. Most of the time they are smaller in size which means they contain less of the precious metals which is the catalyst itself. You get what you pay for. If you only going to keep a vehicle for a few years, put an aftermarket cat on.