Q: What should I try fixing first?

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5 days after taking my car home, the check engine light and 3 others came on. The dealership I bought it from wanted to charge me $3,000 out of pocket to fix it and told me there was nothing they could do. A few places have read the codes and I even read them. They all say the same thing: P0430 bad catalytic converter. One man even listened to my car afterwards and said he thought I could have an exhaust leak. I'd rather just take the cat converter off completely than pay $3,000 to fix it. The other 3 lights were the slippery when wet, vsc trac, and vsc off. They all came on at the same time. I've heard when the CEL comes on, they automatically do too. It wasn't raining when they came on. My cars not loud. It vibrates a little, usually when given gas. When I give it gas, it doesn't feel like its going as fast as it should. I get around 15 mpg. It seemed very well kept by the previous owner. So what all could make the CEL glow for a bad cat converter. What should I try looking at first?

My car has 160000 miles.
My car has an automatic transmission.

The combination of things, the sound in the exhaust, poor performance and gas mileage, and the Check Engine Light make me think that your catalyst may be breaking up inside. The catalytic converter is made of a ceramic honeycombed affair through which the exhaust must pass. Sometimes, the ceramic will break up and the effect will be like having rocks in your exhaust. The pieces can actually block the exhaust and affect performance. A catalyst replacement is in order, but you can probably save some money by installing an aftermarket catalyst. The VSC and other lights are related to each other, but not to the catalyst. To determine the problem you will need to read the codes in ALL of the car’s controllers. VSC (Vehicle Stability Control) can be affected by a variety of sensors in any of the car’s systems. The most likely candidates being the Wheel speed sensors. What the VSC and other lights are telling you is that the ABS and Traction Control systems are not going to work. You still have brakes and steering, but they will not be automatically compensated by the cars stability system. You can have both these problems addressed by contacting Your Mechanic, they can send a technician to your home or office to replace your catalyst and check out your VSC lights too.

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