Do Jeeps Have Catalytic Converters? Everything You Need to Know

do jeeps have catalytic converters

Jeeps are iconic off-road vehicles beloved by outdoor enthusiasts across the globe. With their rugged construction and ample torque, Jeeps can crawl over rocky terrain and power through mud without hesitation.

But do Jeeps have catalytic converters?

The short answer is: some Jeeps come equipped with catalytic converters from the factory, while others do not. Installing catalytic converters helped Jeep meet emissions standards for certain engine sizes and model years. Read on to learn everything you need to know about Jeeps and catalytic converters.

In this detailed guide, you’ll discover:

  • What catalytic converters do and how they work
  • Which Jeep models contain catalytic converters
  • How to inspect your Jeep to see if it has a catalytic converter
  • Average replacement costs if your Jeep’s cat con goes bad
  • Symptoms that indicate your catalytic converter needs servicing
  • And much more!

Let’s start from the top and answer the question…

What Does a Catalytic Converter Do?

A catalytic converter (cat con for short) is an emissions control device installed on most modern vehicles with internal combustion engines.

Here is how catalytic converters work:

This handy exhaust treatment system serves to reduce the toxicity of emissions expelled from the tailpipe. Inside a cat con are specialty metals and ceramic materials that catalyze chemical reactions.

As hot exhaust gases pass through at high speeds, a catalytic converter transforms pollutants like:

  • Hydrocarbons
  • Carbon monoxide
  • Nitrogen oxides

And converts them into less harmful emissions like nitrogen, carbon dioxide and water vapor. This helps minimize the air pollution and smog-forming contaminants vehicles can produce.

Catalytic converters play an important role in cutting down on air pollution and environmental hazards. They help cars, trucks, SUVs, and yes – even Jeeps, meet emissions regulations and standards for cleaner air.

But do all Jeeps come with catalytic converters?

The answer may surprise you.

Do All Jeeps Have Catalytic Converters?

Unlike some automobile manufacturers that outfit every model with a catalytic converter, Jeep does not install cat cons in all of their vehicles.

Here are the Jeep models and engine sizes that came factory equipped with catalytic converters:

  • Jeep Wrangler – came with cat con starting in 1991
  • Jeep Cherokee – came with cat con starting in 1984

Newer Jeeps like the Jeep Compass, Renegade, and Grand Cherokee generally include catalytic converters to meet emissions requirements. Nowadays, nearly every gasoline-powered vehicle comes with this emissions reducing technology.

But for earlier Jeep models or certain powerful engines, you may be cruising the open roads in a cat-less ride.

Examples of Jeeps without catalytic converters include:

  • Willys MB and Willys CJ Jeeps – 1940s to 1970s models
  • Jeep DJ – 1965 to 1974
  • Jeep J-10 Pickup – pre-1990 models
  • Jeep Wrangler YJ – 1987 to 1995, depending on engine size
  • Jeep Cherokee XJ – 1984 to 2001, depending on engine options

The EPA started implementing stricter emissions regulations in the 1970s and 80s. So Jeeps built before catalytic converter requirements came into play did not include this pollution-minimizing equipment.

Inspect your Jeep’s exhaust system to verify if it has a cat. Or keep reading to learn other ways to tell.

How Can I Tell If My Jeep Has a Catalytic Converter?

Wondering if your beloved 4×4 has an emissions-cleansing catalytic converter hiding under the hood?

Use these methods to check if your Jeep came factory equipped with a cat con, or had one installed later on:

Inspect Along the Exhaust System

The easiest way is to take a good look at your Jeep’s exhaust setup. Follow the exhaust piping from the engine manifold back.

Catalytic converters are often found after the exhaust manifold, but before the muffler. Look for a large cylinder that connects to the exhaust piping likely with flanges or welding. OEM cats have heat shields around them as they get extremely hot.

You can visually inspect to see if there is a catalytic converter present.

Listen for Rattling Noises

Faulty catalytic converters tend to rattle or make other unusual noises. The matrix materials inside break down over time, obstructing exhaust flow. This causes unwanted vibration and interior noise.

If you hear rattling or dustbin-type clangs coming from beneath your Jeep, it may indicate cat con issues. Have your mechanic investigate. They can confirm if the rattling is related to a deteriorating catalytic converter that needs replacement.

Use an OBD2 Scanner Code Reader

Another way to verify if your Jeep has a catalytic converter is to plug in an OBD2 scanner tool. An onboard diagnostics 2 code reader can scan for check engine trouble codes.

It can also specifically check for P0420 and P0430 catalytic converter related codes. These indicate that your Jeep’s Engine Control Module (ECM) has detected issues with the cat con causing emissions to exceed acceptable limits.

So scan for codes to corroborate if your Jeep even has a catalytic converter installed. Most pre-96 vehicles won’t register cat con codes since they lacked this emissions equipment.

Jeep Catalytic Converter Replacement

As your Jeep ages and miles accumulate, expect increased wear and tear on parts like mufflers, oxygen sensors, and catalytic converters.

Symptoms like lack of power, bad MPG, and smelly exhaust indicate converter issues. If your inspection, code scan, or mechanic verify it’s gone bad, cat con replacement is essential.

Let’s cover common questions about Jeep catalytic converter repairs:

How Much Does it Cost to Replace a Jeep Catalytic Converter?

Expect to pay somewhere between $1000 and $3000 for catalytic converter replacement on your Jeep. Cost depends on:

  • Part cost for the new cat con
  • Labor time involved to install it
  • Your Jeep model and engine size
  • Choosing aftermarket vs OEM parts

Cat con replacement costs easily creep over $2000 at many mechanic shops. Consider DIYing it to save money if you are mechanically handy.

Should I Replace My Jeep’s Catalytic Converter Myself?

Catalytic converter installation takes some mechanical know-how and muscle. Various bolts, flanges, hangers and heat shields must unfasten so the old cat can detach. Then the new one must correctly realign into the exhaust.

With proper jacks and jack stands, replacing a Jeep cat con isn’t extremely complicated for intermediate DIYers. Especially if you utilize YouTube tutorials demonstrating your Jeep model’s converter replacement process.

Exercising caution with hot exhaust parts is also critical to avoid burns or other injuries. Weigh your mechanical abilities before attempting replacement yourself.

Aftermarket vs OEM Catalytic Converters for Jeeps

You can source a replacement catalytic converter for your Jeep from:

  • Aftermarket manufacturers
  • The original equipment manufacturer (OEM)

Aftermarket cats are often much cheaper than factory originals. However, some are low quality with poor fitment and materials that corrode quickly. Stick with reputable aftermarket companies known for decent catalytic converters that last.

Paying extra bucks for an OEM Jeep catalytic converter typically means getting top-notch construction that fits precisely. OEM Jeep parts often last longer too. Though prices can be steep from the dealer.

Finding a middle ground with a moderately priced high-flow cat that fits great is ideal. This balances cost savings with performance and longevity.

Now that you know the in’s and out’s of Jeep catalytic converter function and replacement, what symptoms signal cat failure?

Signs Your Catalytic Converter Needs Replacing

How do you know when it’s time to replace your old clunker Jeep’s catalytic converter?

Look for these common indicators of catalytic converter failure:

P0420 or P0430 OBD Trouble Codes

As mentioned earlier, these codes mean your Jeep’s ECU detects issues with the cat con causing excess emissions. Time for a new one!

Lack of Acceleration & Reduced Fuel Economy

Catalytic converter breakdown causes exhaust flow restrictions and backpressure buildup. This robs your Jeep’s engine performance leading to acceleration difficulties and decreased MPG.

Rotten Egg Odor from Exhaust

Stinky sulfur-smelling exhaust can signify cat failure. Unburnt gases containing sulfur pass right through rather than getting treated and neutralized inside a working converter.

Rattling Noise From Undercarriage

Hear rattling or shaking coming from your Jeep’s converters? The internal ceramic honeycomb monolith that filters and treats exhaust likely deteriorated. Get that cat replaced ASAP!

When you notice any of these warning signs, have your technician inspect and test your Jeep’s catalytic converter. Catching cat con issues early prevents further damage down the line.


Hopefully this straightforward guide clarified the murky question – do Jeeps have catalytic converters?

To summarize key takeaways:

Some Jeep models contain factory installed catalytic converters – like Wranglers from 91+ and Cherokees from 84+. Newer Jeeps tend to come converter-equipped too.

Pre-emissions regulation era Jeeps often lack converters since they weren’t required yet. But converters can get added later on.

Inspect visually and audibly for signs of a cat con. Use an OBD2 scanner to confirm. Watch for check engine codes pointing to catalytic converter failure.

When it’s time to replace your Jeep’s worn out catalytic converter expect a hefty $1000 to $3000 bill. Consider doing it yourself to save money with proper mechanical know-how and caution.

And remember – replacing faulty converters improves your Jeep’s performance while reducing environmental impact. It’s a win-win to keep your beloved 4×4 running cleanly for many more miles to come!

Jeep Catalytic Converter Specifications

Jeep ModelYearsFactory Equipped Catalytic ConverterNon-Converter Equipped Engine Options
Wrangler87-90None2.5L AMC 150 I4 carbureted engine
91-95Yes – oxygen sensor equipped2.5L AMC 150 I4 carbureted engine
Cherokee84-01Yes, depending on engine2.8L V6 carbureted engine

Pros and Cons of Catalytic Converters


  • Reduce harmful tailpipe emissions
  • Cut down on air pollution
  • Improve fuel efficiency slightly
  • Last 100K+ miles if maintained


  • Expensive to replace, $1000+
  • Aftermarket cats may fit poorly
  • Can slowly reduce engine power over time
  • DIY replacement difficult for some

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