The rumbling V8 engine of a classic Ford Bronco is an iconic sound. But without the proper emissions control systems, those vintage Broncos would spew harmful pollution. That’s where Ford Bronco catalytic converters come in. These exhaust components transform toxic gases into safer compounds. For Bronco owners, catalytic converters are crucial for keeping your truck street-legal and environmentally friendly.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about catalytic converters in Ford Broncos. You’ll learn about:
- The history of catalytic converter use in Broncos
- Different converter types and designs
- How to protect your Bronco’s converter from theft
- Troubleshooting catalytic converter problems
- Replacing and upgrading converters
- Maintaining emissions control systems
- Improving performance with high-flow cats
We’ll also provide tips to extend the life of your Ford Bronco catalytic converters. With the right knowledge, you can keep your classic truck’s original emissions equipment running clean for years.
Key Takeaways on Ford Bronco Catalytic Converters
- Catalytic converters transform engine exhaust into less toxic compounds to meet emissions regulations.
- OEM catalytic converters are more expensive but ensure proper fit and emissions compliance.
- Aftermarket converters provide similar functions at a lower cost in most cases.
- Converters should last over 100k miles with proper engine maintenance.
- Check engine lights, reduced performance, and foul odors indicate converter failure.
- Professional installation is recommended for timely, reliable converter replacement.
- Upgraded performance converters optimize flow for modified engines.
- Proper maintenance of all emissions components maximizes converter lifespan.
- Converter warranties cover premature failure and manufacturing defects.
- Monitoring your Bronco’s converter prevents excess emissions and costly repairs.
A Brief History of Catalytic Converters in Ford Broncos
The Ford Bronco has been an off-roading icon since its introduction in 1966. Broncos had basic exhaust systems and no emissions equipment for the first decade. But as air quality concerns grew in the 1970s, regulations tightened. By 1974, catalytic converters were required on all new cars sold in the US.
The first Broncos with catalytic converters appeared in 1975. These early converters were single-bed, oxidizing units placed close to the engine. Oxidizing converters cut carbon monoxide and some hydrocarbon emissions. However, they did little to reduce nitrogen oxide output.
Read More: Ford Explorer Catalytic Converters: Repair And Replacements
In 1980, a major redesign introduced the second-gen Bronco. These trucks came with more advanced 2-way catalytic converters. 2-way cats use two beds – one for oxidation and one for reduction. This lowers NOx along with CO and HC output.
Further improvements came in the 1980s as 3-way converter technology matured. 3-way units cut all three major pollutants simultaneously. Federal law also mandated closed-loop engine control systems and oxygen sensors. These advances enabled precise fuel metering for optimal converter performance.
1996, the last Bronco rolled off the line with a highly refined emissions package. OBD-II diagnostics, air injection, and precise fuel injection maximized the effectiveness of its 3-way catalytic converter. This finally brought Bronco emissions in line with modern standards.
Today’s Broncos remain icons of off-roading. But their antiquated emissions controls can’t match newer trucks. Custom catalytic converters and engine tuning offer big upgrades. With the right mods, you can have power plus reduced emissions.
Catalytic Converter Systems in Early Broncos (1966-1974)
- Pre-emissions era Broncos had simple exhaust systems, no converters
- No emissions control equipment or diagnostics
- Unregulated exhaust emissions by today’s standards
First Gen Bronco Catalytic Converters (1975-1977)
- Introduction of oxidizing catalytic converters to meet EPA regulations
- Single-bed converters mounted near the exhaust manifolds
- Provided CO and HC reduction but not NOx reduction
- Closed-loop fuel control has not been implemented yet
Second Gen Bronco Catalytic Converters (1978-1979)
- Introduction of more advanced 2-way catalytic converters
- Oxidation and reduction of emissions in separate beds
- The converter was repositioned further downstream for packaging
- Added air pumps for secondary air injection into the exhaust
Third Gen Bronco Catalytic Converters (1980-1986)
- Adoption of advanced 3-way catalytic converter technology
- Simultaneous oxidation and reduction within a single catalyst bed
- Integration of closed-loop fuel system with oxygen sensor feedback
- Computerized engine management for optimizing converter function
Fourth Gen Bronco Catalytic Converters (1987-1991)
- Continued refinement of 3-way converter design
- Improved PUR coating for durability and efficiency
- Upgraded heat shields and positioning for increased protection
- OBD-I diagnostics introduced for emissions monitoring
Fifth Gen Bronco Catalytic Converters (1992-1996)
- Highly refined OEM catalytic converters for emissions compliance
- Introduction of sequential multi-port fuel injection systems
- Launch of OBD-II diagnostics for advanced emissions monitoring
- Last Bronco generation before model discontinuation (Till 2020)
Sixth-Gen Catalytic Converters in the New Ford Broncos (2021-Present)
- All-new Ford Bronco introduced for the 2020 model year
- Features advanced high-efficiency 3-way catalytic converters
- Positioned close to the engine for the fastest light-off time
- Utilizes dual exhaust system with converters on both banks
- Enhanced OBD-II diagnostics and rear oxygen sensors
- Meticulously engineered to meet the latest emissions standards
- Significantly cleaner than previous generations
- Converter design optimized with computer modeling
- Improved purification materials for extended lifespan
- Coated substrates for increased durability
- Larger volume converters compared to prior models
- Built to last despite off-roading rigors
- Covered by 8 years/80,000-mile federal emissions warranty
Bronco’s current emissions systems represent 50+ years of development since the original. While maintaining the rugged spirit of the first models, the new Bronco also does its part to protect the trails it conquers.
Ford Bronco Catalytic Converter Placement Through the Generations
Ford positioned the Bronco’s catalytic converter in different locations across the decades:
Early Models – Pre-converter Broncos had no catalyzers. Exhaust systems were basic pipes.
1975-1977 – The first converter Bronco models had cats installed near the headers for fast light-off.
1978-1979 – Converters moved mid-chassis behind the collector but ahead of the muffler.
1980-1996 – Later, advanced cats were mounted further rearward for packaging, heat control, and tuning.
Newer underbody designs protect the converter from dirt and damage. Rear positioning also allows bigger mufflers and tailpipes for an improved exhaust note.
But the tradeoff is slower catalyst light-off until the system warms up. Optimized heat shielding helps compensate and reduces emissions during cold starts.
OEM vs Aftermarket Catalytic Converters for Ford Broncos
When it’s time to replace your Bronco’s worn-out converter, you have two main options:
Ford makes OEM catalytic converters to the original factory specifications. They bolt directly in place of the stock unit. OEM cats ensure emissions compliance and proper fit. But at $800 or more, they’re costly.
Aftermarket converters provide a similar function at a fraction of the OEM price. Aftermarket companies like Walker, Bosal, and MagnaFlow offer direct-fit Bronco catalytic converters. Their products range from $150 to $400 – a huge savings versus the dealer.
Most aftermarket direct-fit converters meet Ford’s specifications for emissions compliance. CARB-approved units are street-legal in all 50 states. High-quality converters match OEM reliability and longevity.
One downside of aftermarket cats is potentially altered sound. Some produce a slightly deeper tone than the factory muffler. But most owners enjoy the mellow rumble.
For those wanting factory-accurate recreation, OEM is the way to go. But you’ll pay dearly for originality. For most, an aftermarket converter provides excellent function and value.
Choosing the Right Catalytic Converter Setup for Your Bronco
Beyond the OEM/aftermarket decision, several factors affect Bronco converter selection:
Engine and exhaust size – Converters must be sized to match your Bronco’s displacement and exhaust diameter. A 5.0L V8 needs more flow than a 2.8L straight-six. And larger exhausts need bigger cats.
Emissions laws – Your area’s inspection laws impact replacement converter requirements. CARB-approved converters ensure compliance in California and states with California emissions standards.
Power goals – Any quality direct-fit cat will do if you keep your Bronco stock. However, high-performance converters optimize flow for modified engines.
Budget – Factory-style cats range from $150 to $800 based on brand, quality, and exact fitment. Better materials and engineering cost more.
Installation – Weld-in converters take more effort to install but offer maximum flow. Bolt-in units replace factory parts directly but may restrict high-HP builds.
Think about how you use your Bronco and your performance goals. This determines the optimal converter design. Our experts can guide you through all the options.
Protecting Your Bronco’s Catalytic Converter from Theft
Catalytic converter theft has surged nationwide in recent years. The precious metals inside Ford Bronco catalytic converters make them valuable to unscrupulous scrappers. The Bronco’s high ground clearance makes its converters readily accessible.
To deter converter thieves, follow these tips:
- Install a cat security device like the CatClamp or MillerCat. These prevent the converter from being removed.
- Have your converter ID etched or engraved to make it traceable. This deters thieves from trying to sell it to scrap yards.
- Always park your Bronco in a locked garage if possible. Avoid leaving it outside in public areas overnight.
- If street parking is unavoidable, install motion-sensor lights and conspicuously position cameras on your Bronco.
- Adjust your comprehensive auto insurance to cover converter theft. This minimizes your losses if your catalytic converter is stolen.
- Report any converter thefts to the police immediately. Share details like your converter’s ID markings. This aids police in identifying stolen units.
Staying vigilant is key to protecting your investment. But if thieves do strike, don’t despair.
Diagnosing Catalytic Converter Failure in Your Bronco
Ford Bronco catalytic converters normally operate without issues for over 100,000 miles. However, excessive fuel contamination, oil burning, and ignition misfires can prematurely ruin Ford Bronco catalytic converters.
Here are the most common signs of catalytic converter failure in Ford Broncos:
- Check Engine Light – Fault codes for converter efficiency, oxygen sensor readings, or exhaust air-fuel ratios indicate converter damage.
- Lack of Acceleration – As converter cells clog, exhaust flow is restricted, sapping engine power. Acceleration worsens over time.
- Poor Fuel Economy – Misfires, restrictions, and engine strains from converter damage lower MPGs. Expect a 10-15% hit to your Bronco’s fuel efficiency.
- Rough Idle – Converter bottlenecks make engines run unevenly at idle. Misfires exacerbate the issue.
- Fouled Spark Plugs – Rich fuel mixtures from a bad converter quickly foul plugs, causing misfires.
- Sulfur Smell – A rotten egg odor signals sulfur buildup from oil burning. This poisons the catalyst, preventing conversion reactions.
Don’t ignore these warning signs. Converter damage only worsens with time.
Replacing a Worn-Out Catalytic Converter in Your Bronco
If your Bronco’s OEM converter is beyond salvage, replacement is the only option. Here is an overview of the converter swap process:
Step 1 – Removal: Sawzalls quickly cut out old converters. Take care not to damage nearby lines.
Step 2 – Prep and Positioning: Clear the area and trial-fit your new converter before final welding. Proper positioning is critical.
Step 3 – Tack Welds: Secure the new converter with light tack welds first. This allows final alignment tweaks before finishing welding.
Step 4 – Final Welds: With fitment perfected, weld the entire converter seam using a bead pattern that avoids warping. Let welds cool between passes.
Step 5 – Oxygen Sensors: Transfer over oxygen sensors from your old converter. Use anti-seize on sensor threads for easy future removal.
Step 6 – Inspection and Cleanup: Check all welds, clearances, and sensor connections. Remove any welding debris in the exhaust.
Step 7 – Installation: Reinstall any remaining components like heat shields. Your Bronco is now ready to drive!
The process takes 3-5 hours for DIYers.
Ford Bronco Catalytic Converter Replacement and Scrap Prices (2021-2023)
|Catalytic Converter Type
|Replacement Cost (USD)
|Scrap Price (USD)
- Prices are estimates and may vary depending on your location, mechanic, and the condition of the catalytic converter.
- Scrap prices fluctuate based on market demand and the type of metal used in the converter.
- This table only includes information for gasoline-powered models. Electric Broncos do not have catalytic converters.
- It is important to consult a qualified mechanic before replacing a catalytic converter.
Read More: Selling Your Ford Catalytic Converter Scrap in 2024
Professional vs. DIY Bronco Catalytic Converter Replacement
When it’s time for a new Bronco converter, you can DIY or have it done professionally in a shop. Here’s how the two options compare:
- Cost – DIY replacement only requires buying tools and the new converter for potential big savings
- Time – Allocate a full day for removal, installation, etc. Much longer than a shop.
- Expertise – Proper positioning, welding technique, tuning, etc., require experience and skill.
Professional Shop Replacement:
- Cost – Labor fees apply, but cost is offset by speed and expertise
- Time – Our techs can replace converters in under 2 hours for minimal downtime
- Expertise – Our specialists have thousands of successful converter installs under their belts
- Warranty – Professional installation ensures your replacement converter is covered
- Convenience – We handle the entire process from removal to disposal of old parts
Identifying a Failing Catalytic Converter in Your Bronco
Ford Bronco catalytic converters slowly degrade over time. But how can you definitively diagnose when yours is failing in your Bronco? Here are the key signs:
Reduced Performance – As converter cells get obstructed, your Bronco will lose power and acceleration. This worsens gradually.
Lower Fuel Economy – Expect a 10-15% MPG drop as engine strains and misfires caused by a failing converter sap efficiency.
Misfiring – Contaminants and bottlenecks from a bad cat prevent proper ignition and combustion. Misfires amplify damage.
Fouled Spark Plugs – Unburned fuel from misfires quickly fouls plugs from a bad converter. This further worsens performance.
Rotten Egg Smell – Sulfur mixing with exhaust gases produces a rotten egg odor, signaling converter failure.
Don’t delay diagnosis and repair at the first signs of converter failure. The longer it is damaged, the more debris will enter and poison your Bronco’s catalyst.
Maintaining Emissions Control Systems
The catalytic converter is crucial in minimizing your Bronco’s environmental impact. However, the entire emissions control system must function properly to reduce pollution.
Follow this maintenance schedule for Bronco emissions components:
Oil Changes – Perform on-time oil and filter changes to avoid oil burning and contaminating the converter.
Air Filter Replacement – Swap clogged air filters to allow proper airflow for clean combustion.
Oxygen Sensor Checks – Replace aging oxygen sensors before they cause improper fuel metering.
Fuel System Cleaning – Use a top-tier cleaner every 10k miles to remove injector deposits.
Evaporative System Integrity – Inspect gas tank and emissions lines for leaks and blockages.
EGR System – Clean carbon deposits from the Exhaust Gas Recirculation valve and passages.
With diligent maintenance on these interlinked systems, your Bronco’s emissions equipment will keep your truck running clean for years beyond expectations.
Catalytic Converter Upgrade Options for the Bronco
Factory Ford Bronco catalytic converters are designed for emissions compliance, not peak power. These are some top catalytic converter upgrades to uncork your Bronco’s potential:
Ford Racing High-Flow Converter – 50-state legal with freer breathing and Ford quality.
MBRP Racing Cat – Heavy-duty steel housing and 100-cell internals for big power.
Dynatech SuperMax Cat – Up to 70% larger volume than V8 and straight-6 Broncos stock.
MagnaFlow Hi-Flow Cat – Straight-through core with turbulence-reducing internals.
Cherry Bomb Street Cat – Aggressive sound with enhanced flow.
The perfect converter based on your Bronco’s specs and performance goals. Don’t settle for stock – maximize your truck’s potential with a tailored catalytic upgrade.
Understanding Bronco Catalytic Converter Warranties
Factory and aftermarket Ford Bronco catalytic converters have warranties to protect Bronco owners from undue replacement costs. Here’s what’s covered:
Converter Defects – Damage from defective materials or faulty manufacturing is 100% covered under warranty.
Failure Before Expected Life – Replacements are fully warranted if the catalyst stops functioning prematurely.
Proper Installation – The warranty is void if the user improperly installs the converter.
Unapproved Modifications – Mods like headers that increase stress can invalidate the warranty.
Keep all receipts and documentation related to the original converter purchase and any exhaust work. This proves warranty eligibility if you need to file a claim.
Will a Cat-Back Exhaust Upgrade Void My Bronco’s Converter Warranty?
Upgrading your Bronco’s exhaust with new mufflers, pipes, and tips is tempting. The added sound and power are alluring. But will those mods void the catalytic converter’s warranty from Ford or your aftermarket supplier?
In most cases, no. Alterations downstream of the catalytic converter do not void the cat’s coverage. The key distinction lies between cat-back and header/mid-pipe systems.
Cat-back exhausts, consisting of the mid-pipe rearward, do not affect the converter. If you don’t cut out or modify the converter, its warranty remains intact. Muffler swaps and tailpipe alterations are fine.
However, long-tube headers and mid-pipe changes are located before the converter. These can increase exhaust temperatures and airflow past manufacturers’ specifications. Those conditions could void converter warranties since they directly impact the cat’s operating environment.
Keep your receipts for any work done. Suppose you do have a converter failure down the road. In that case, you’ll need to document the failure was unrelated to any covered modifications. Your warranty coverage will be unimpaired if you stick to cat-back upgrades using reputable parts.
Maximizing the Life of Your Bronco’s Catalytic Converter
With proper care, a factory Bronco converter should last over 100,000 miles. Here are 6 tips to maximize catalytic converter longevity:
1. Stay on top of engine maintenance. Fix any oil leaks, fuel pressure issues, misfires, and other problems promptly. These all shorten converter life drastically.
2. Avoid contaminated fuel. Never use gasoline with water, sediments, or other contaminants that could enter your Bronco’s cylinders.
3. Let your engine warm up before driving hard. Wait to rev or load the engine until the Bronco is fully warmed. This prevents raw fuel from flooding the converter.
4. Don’t ignore check engine lights or error codes. Diagnose and repair any converter-related codes immediately to prevent damage from cascading into complete failure.
5. Drive moderately when possible. Avoid excessive heavy throttle and load. The high temperatures of hard driving accelerate catalyst deterioration.
6. Install a converter heat shield if your Bronco lacks one. This protects the converter from engine bay heat soak for a longer life.
Upgrading to a High-Flow Catalytic Converter in Your Bronco
Factory Bronco converters are restrictive by design. This ensures emissions compliance at the cost of power. Upgraded aftermarket converters reduce that bottleneck while still providing clean emissions:
- Higher efficiency metals – Aftermarket cats use extra platinum, palladium, and rhodium for superior conversion rates. This reduces back pressure.
- Larger substrates – More physical catalyst material and surface area lightens the load for better flow.
- Strategic internals – Performance converters use turbulence-reducing straight-through cores or multi-wall designs for freer breathing.
- Precision engineering – Improved CAD designs optimized for your Bronco’s engine yield maximum flow and conversion.
- Reduced backpressure – By dropping restriction 30-50%, performance converters unleash more contained torque and horsepower.
High-flow catalytic converters let your upgraded Bronco engine breathe. We specify the ideal high-performance cat based on your truck’s displacement and power goals.
Protecting the Environment with Proper Bronco Converter Maintenance
Though built for rugged terrain, every Bronco still needs to minimize environmental impact. Emissions equipment keeps these iconic off-roaders’ streets legal while preserving clean air.
But aged, damaged converters negate those gains. One failed converter pollutes as much as 300 properly working ones. Uncontrolled emissions degrade air quality and public health.
With proper maintenance, your Bronco’s original converter can run cleanly for years past expectations. If yours has reached the end, reputable replacement units are affordable and readily available.
Upgraded performance converters also bring emissions in line with newer trucks. Recycling old catalyst materials aids sustainability. We’re dedicated to keeping the Bronco you love on the road while protecting the wild spaces it explores.
FAQs On Ford Bronco Catalytic Converters
When Did Ford Start Putting Catalytic Converters in Broncos?
The first Broncos with catalytic converters appeared in 1975 to meet new EPA emissions regulations.
What Are the Symptoms of a Failing Catalytic Converter in Ford Bronco?
Check engine lights, poor acceleration, reduced fuel economy, misfires, and foul smells indicate converter damage.
How Much Does It Cost to Replace a Bronco Catalytic Converter?
At shop rates, the Bronco converter replacement costs $150-800 for parts plus 2-5 hours of labor.
Can I Upgrade to a Performance Converter in My Bronco?
Yes, high-flow converters can optimize airflow on modified Broncos for more power.
Will an Aftermarket Cat-Back Exhaust Void My Bronco’s Converter Warranty?
No, only header and mid-pipe changes ahead of the converter can impact converter warranties.
How Often Should I Get My Bronco’s Emissions System Serviced?
Follow your owner’s manual maintenance schedule for emissions component inspections and upkeep.
What Metals Are Inside Catalytic Converters?
Catalytic converters contain platinum, palladium, and rhodium that serve as catalysts to treat exhaust gases.
Can I Clean or Repair a Clogged Ford Bronco Catalytic Converter?
Unfortunately, no-damaged converters must be replaced as the internal structure breaks down.
Are Universal Fit Converters as Good as Direct-Fit on Broncos?
Direct-fit converters ensure proper specifications and fit. Universal cats may require modifications.
How Can I Protect My Bronco’s Converter from Theft?
Use shields, protective plates, ID etching, cameras, garaging, and increased security measures.
Can Running Bad Gas Ruin My Catalytic Converter?
Yes, contaminated fuel speeds up converter failure by poisoning the internal catalyst.
Where Is the Catalytic Converter Located on a Ford Bronco?
Converter position varied by generation – early models under the body, later ones further rearward.
What Are the Environmental Benefits of Catalytic Converters?
Converters reduce harmful pollutants by converting toxic gases into safer compounds.
How Do I Know If My Bronco Has Factory Emissions Equipment?
Check for catalytic converters, oxygen sensors, EGR, PCV, and other emissions components under the hood and chassis.
Can I Legally Run an Old Bronco Without a Catalytic Converter?
Removing converters violates emissions laws – exempted classics must pass visual inspections.
Conclusion on Ford Bronco Catalytic Converters
Since their introduction 50+ years ago, catalytic converters have become indispensable for vehicle emissions control. They tame the Bronco’s wild side for clean cruising. With increased theft, high costs, and aging trucks, paying attention to your Bronco’s catalytic converter is more important than ever.
We hope this guide gave you a comprehensive Ford Bronco catalytic converters overview. From types and selection to diagnostics, replacement, upgrades, and more – you should now be a catalysis expert!
Here’s to keeping your beloved Bronco on the road with its emissions and check engine lights under control. With the right converter maintenance, these icons of off-roading can rumble through trails and highways for decades to come.