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Old 11-10-2010, 02:05 AM
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Default bad catalytic converter? insane rattle!

Last year, I took my beetle to 2 different mechanics and they claimed they couldn't hear the rattle that I heard under my car. Now, a year later, it is louder. It drives me batty. My husband and son heard it loud and clear too. It sounds like metal clinking around in a tin can, or a cow bell. It's horrible. I hear it most loudly when I'm in an idling position and I'm moving into first and second gear. If the car jerks, the cow bell starts ringing. Once I'm driving firmly on the road, I don't hear it so much, only if I hit a bump. Hubby got under the car and looked and shook everything he could and there was nothing loose. One of his coworkers said that his daughter's beetle sounded just like my car and the problem was that the catalytic converter broke loose inside. My car is a '99 GL with 78,000 miles. I bought it in Dec 1998. I'm the original owner. Does anyone know how much a catalytic converter would cost to replace? Thanks.
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Old 11-10-2010, 02:31 AM
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I would think if it was the cat rattling for over a year, it would have thrown a CEL by now. I had rattling in my car that started a year ago or so and I got a CEL in February. I had a slight decrease in power and I did notice it more under load. I heard it in all gear though. It certainly could be the cat though. If you do decide to replace it, go to a muffler shop and just get a generic fit muffler. I went to a local muffler shop and it was < $200 and 30 minutes and I was out the door with a non-rattling car. And more power. I had 90k on my car at the time.
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Old 11-10-2010, 02:58 AM
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Check ALL the heat shields for the exhaust.

Something to think about: Where does all those chunks of cat conveter go? Into the muffler, plugging it too. So even if you replace the cat you still might have a plugged muffler. Causing a whole bunch more problems, that you will chase your tail over and over again about.
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Old 11-11-2010, 05:16 PM
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Have a muffler shop check the heat shields
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Old 11-11-2010, 05:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Smileybug View Post
I would think if it was the cat rattling for over a year, it would have thrown a CEL by now. I had rattling in my car that started a year ago or so and I got a CEL in February. I had a slight decrease in power and I did notice it more under load. I heard it in all gear though. It certainly could be the cat though. If you do decide to replace it, go to a muffler shop and just get a generic fit muffler. I went to a local muffler shop and it was < $200 and 30 minutes and I was out the door with a non-rattling car. And more power. I had 90k on my car at the time.
True story. There's no need to drop the cash on the OEM piece. You can get universal Magnaflow cats on eBay dirt cheap and they work great.
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Old 11-12-2010, 01:01 AM
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There is an insulating shield that goes around the oil pan. Ours had the same rattle and it was that shield. Some shop took ours off and threw it away, then denied they did it. I guess they thought we'd think it just fell off.
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Old 11-12-2010, 03:24 AM
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Thank you for all the input. From the sound of the suggestions, it seems it must somehow be tied to something in the exhaust system.

Also, I remember that last year the dealer said that the 'core support bolts' were loose and that something underneath would've fallen if they hadn't tightened them.

I can take it to my independent mechanic, but it may take a while for him to fit me in. He's booked up most of the time. Do you think a place like Midas would screw up my car or overcharge me to replace a cat or inspect the exhaust? My mechanic is really, really good and specializes in VWs only. Should I just wait the extra time? I'm afraid of something falling off and causing me some expensive repairs while I debate on who to take it to.

Btw, I have no engine cover. A new one was put on last year, and I have no idea what happened to it. I've had a couple of oil changes at oil change shops since then. I wonder if they did something to it. I had no idea it was missing until my hubby got under the car and saw that it was gone. I can tell you that it never fell off or got dragged while I was driving.
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Old 11-23-2010, 06:16 PM
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Took my beetle to my reputable independent VW mechanic. He said that the problem is the catalytic converter. He quoted me $1000 to replace it. He said the universal converters don't last long on a VW and I need to get a VW part and have it installed.

I did call VW customer service. I gave her my VIN for my 99 beetle. She said there has never been any recall issues for my beetle and they will not help with any cost on the catalytic converter either. I just spent over $3,000 on her last summer. Oy.
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Old 11-23-2010, 06:27 PM
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I hate to be bearer of bad news, but this is a known issue and I had cats on my 98 NB, wife's 01 Jetta and my 03 TS replaced free by VW. Some cars even had the warranty extended(but no recall) from 8yr/80K to 10yr/120K. The matrix inside the cat comes loose from the housing and the rattling starts. At this point go to an independant shop and buy an aftermarket cat--that's the cheapest way to go. Good luck.
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Old 11-23-2010, 06:44 PM
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Don't listen to your mechanic. Take the car to a muffler shop and have them throw on an aftermarket one. It cost me <$200. Really no reason to stick an OEM cat on there. My car has been running great for almost 8k with an aftermarket cat on it.

There was never a recall on the cats, just an extended warranty to 10yrs/120k. I was well under the mileage, but out of the year range at the beginning of the year with my '99. I had heard of stories of VW still honoring it if you were just outside the year requirement, but they wouldn't help me.
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Old 11-23-2010, 07:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Smileybug View Post
Don't listen to your mechanic. Take the car to a muffler shop and have them throw on an aftermarket one. It cost me <$200. Really no reason to stick an OEM cat on there. My car has been running great for almost 8k with an aftermarket cat on it.
I didnt say this but I agree.



Dont forget to have the rest of the exhaust taken off (with the full intention of reinstalling it), and make sure there are not chunks of the old cat in the muffler or tailpipe.
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Old 11-23-2010, 09:58 PM
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I just talked to another independent mechanic who has fixed small things on our vehicles in the past. He said that he would charge between $300 - $400 to change the catalytic converter. He said he would put in an OEM part.
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Old 11-23-2010, 10:09 PM
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Seriously...no need for an OEM part. My local shop actually told me to go to a muffler shop. I asked them about an OEM replacement and they said no need. My car ran so much better after replacement. $300-$400 is still more than you need to spend.
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Old 11-23-2010, 10:19 PM
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Does anything else usually have to be replaced with the converter? I've read some threads about O2 sensors having to be replaced too. Mine were replaced in the past as they went bad.
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Old 11-23-2010, 10:21 PM
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I didn't replace either of them. I wouldn't replace it unless it really needs it, personally. I think some people do just as a precaution. I had one of mine replaced a few years ago when it failed. No problems with either of them in the 8k/9 months I've had the new cat installed.
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Old 11-23-2010, 10:36 PM
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Thank you so much for your posts, Smiley. I'm going to ask more questions of the mechanic before I let him touch my car. I don't want to drive out of any shop and have a CEL light come on for some reason. My car seems to be so touchy with things are 'disturbed'. lol.
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Old 11-23-2010, 11:17 PM
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Cat w/ O2 sensor port, 100 bucks
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Old 11-24-2010, 05:41 AM
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so, it might just be the cat, but take a close look around under the car. check all the support brackets and crossmembers. look for rocks or anything that could have gotten stuck in there.

same thing happened on my wifes beetle. it made this horrible rattling noise, but only at certian times. took it to a couple different shops and nobody could find anything or even get it to make the noise. finally my boss sugested i look for rocks stuck somewhere under the car. come to find out there was a rather large rock stuck between the exhaust pipe and a support braket that held it up. dug it out of there and no more noise since!

just a thought before you go and spend a bunch of money on a new cat
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Old 11-24-2010, 10:26 PM
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Well, I called the Midas shop near my home and they quoted me $350 to put on a universal catalytic converter. I took my car to my neighborhood mechanic who I've used before. He put on a direct fit CAT for $409.90, which includes the parts and labor.

I'm so happy! My car drives like a dream. It's not just the fact that there is no rattle, but the ride is smoother and feels more 'controlled'. My car has been driving bad for so long that I forgot what it's supposed to drive like. This is even after pouring over $3,000 into her last year.

Can someone tell me how the catalytic converter might affect the driving experience? I'm just amazed at how this one part has changed the feel of the drive of the car.

Thanks for all the input in this thread!
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Old 11-24-2010, 10:34 PM
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A bad cat can result in a decrease in power and MPGs. I know once I replaced mine, my car felt like it had a lot more power. When I put my foot on the gas, she really moved, at least in comparison to what she did before hand. I didn't even really realize it until after it was replaced. Had some other work done earlier in the year and its just made my car such a dream to drive (new fuel filter, new shift linkage carrier, new brakes). She feels pretty happy now, and so am I
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