Catalytic Converter Laws in Texas

by Herb Kirchhoff

The catalytic converter in motor vehicles is an anti-pollution device that chemically converts toxic byproducts of fuel combustion into gases that occur naturally. Some drivers believe that removing the converter will improve performance while others may seek to replace the converter with a section of ordinary exhaust pipe to avoid the cost of replacing a failed converter. Such actions are against Texas state law, and violators face up to a $25,000 fine.

Tampering Illegal

It is illegal in Texas to tamper with properly functioning catalytic converters and other pollution control equipment, says the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality website. Tampering means removing, disabling or otherwise rendering inoperable the pollution control devices installed on a motor vehicle.

Use or Sale Banned

Texas law forbids you to drive a motor vehicle with missing or inoperable pollution control systems. This applies regardless of whether the vehicle is being driven on- or off-road. It is also illegal in Texas to sell, lease or offer a motor vehicle that doesn't have all pollution control systems in proper working order.

Repair Rules

Chapter 114 of the Texas Clean Air Act requires that a missing or failed catalytic converter or other failed pollution control device must be replaced with one specified for that vehicle and which has been certified by the federal Environmental Protection Agency. The repairs must meet the emissions standards established for that vehicle. It is also illegal to add equipment, such as a turbocharger, that wasn't originally certified by the manufacturer for that make and model.


Texas law exempts vehicles and engines used exclusively for auto racing, research and development, or vocational instruction. It also exempts farm vehicles made before 2000, and vehicles or engines being exported from the United States.

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