What difference between Universal and Direct Fit Catalytic Converter?
What is a universal fit catalytic converter? Why should I prefer universal fit?
Universal Fit catalytic converters are designed by the manufacturer to fit a wide range of applications. With one SKU, or part number, these catalytic converters accommodate many makes and models, and are typically, as a result, more cost-effective options than direct fit converters.
However, due to the one-size-fits-all nature of the design, the installation of a universal fit catalytic converter is not an easy task. It will require the tools necessary to cut the pipes to the appropriate length, to have them fit into the new catalytic converter. Sometimes the complexity of the vehicle’s design makes installing a universal converter a difficult task. Furthermore, universal fit catalytic converters require one to separately buy the vehicle-specific parts and components, and then to assemble these together. Consequently, the physical and time-consuming job of installing a universal catalytic converter is typically performed by professional mechanics who have experience in installing exhaust systems of a certain complexity.
The universal fit catalytic converter is the preferred option when doing the one-to-one replacement of another universal catalytic converter. It may also be preferred by those willing to go at great length to acquire and install the most cost-efficient catalytic converter.
What is a direct fit catalytic converter? Why should I prefer direct fit?
Direct fit catalytic converters, as exhaust manifolds, are designed by the manufacturers to bolt onto the vehicle directly, enabling a fitment that does not require any additional adjustments to the exhaust system or to the mount space.
As direct fit catalytic converters are specifically designed to fit, they cover less make and model applications, and as such are generally less cost-effective than universal catalytic converters.
Direct fit catalytic converters are designed and manufactured along the design, constraints and features specific to the vehicle in which they are to be installed. Direct fit catalytic converters are available with the necessary hardware and accessories needed to enable such direct fit. These include flanges, pipe extensions and brackets.
DIYers who understand the nature of catalytic converter replacement usually prefer direct-fit converters as they want to complete the job with generic tools, and not the tools that only shops would be equipped with. They will prefer getting a direct fit catalytic converter as a one-to-one replacement for a factory-fitted or OEM-styled exhaust system.
In any case, for both a universal fit or direct fit converter, follow the compliance standards specific to your state. Also, when replacing the catalytic converter, take the opportunity to check the oxygen sensors of your vehicle. And if they happen to be defective, replace them.
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