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What Is A Catalytic Converter?

image of a catalytic converter under a car

A catalytic converter is a special type of filter for your car’s exhaust that combats harmful emissions.

It’s been a required component in America since 1975 thanks to the U.S. Clean Air Act and operates to reduce the number of pollutants that your vehicle produces.

The catalytic converter is located on the underside of every gas-powered vehicle and catches the eye of thieves because it contains metals that are even more precious than gold.

There are about 4-9 grams of platinum, palladium, and rhodium in catalytic converters. They convert harmful exhaust into oxygen, nitrogen, and less harmful gasses.

While a requirement in America, catalytic converters are also the most stolen vehicle component in the country.

According to NPR and the National Insurance Crime Bureau, there has been a tenfold increase in catalytic converter thefts in the last three years. In 2020, there were more than 14,000 cat converters stolen from cars and trucks.

Catalytic converters aren’t only targeted because of their worth, but because of how quick and easy they are to steal.

Compared to stealing an engine, transmission, or an entire vehicle, the converters take less effort to detach and transport, while yielding a hefty payout. Unfortunately for theft victims, catalytic converters are expensive to replace.

How Can I Protect My Catalytic Converter Against Theft?

thief breaking into a car

When it comes down to it, you want to take whatever steps you can to avoid being the victim of catalytic converter theft. Here are three ways you can protect your catalytic converter from being stolen:

  1. Park In Well-Lit Areas. Most thieves are going to operate when they feel they have the least chance of being discovered. Unfortunately, that means when your car is left unattended at night.

    A majority of catalytic converter thefts happen when vehicles are left in dark, residential lots where cars are parked through the night.

    The National Criminal Insurance Bureau (NICB) advises owners to park in well-lit areas. Taking it a step further and installing bright motion sensor lights may also make thieves think twice about stealing.

  2. Mark Your Catalytic Converter With Your License Plate Number. Not only does carving your license plate number into the converter dissuade thieves, but it also makes your converter identifiable by law enforcement.
  3. Install An Anti-Theft Device. Instead of dissuasion, straight up prevention might be the best way to go.

    Anti-theft devices for your catalytic converter are available online for purchase and can be installed by yourself (although, we always recommend leaving things to the professionals). Options include alarms that go off when jostled, locks that form a stainless steel cage around your cat con, and various metal shields that cover the part and make it hard to access.

What Type Of Cars Are Targeted For Their Catalytic Converters?

Converters are targeted for their precious metals, which filter harmful emissions into nitrogen, oxygen, etc.

The more expensive the metals used in the converter, the more efficient it is at converting harmful emissions into less harmful ones.

Low-emission vehicles such as hybrids possess catalytic converters that bring in the most money and, therefore, make them the most high-profile targets for thieves.

Trucks and SUVs are also likely targets because of their higher profile. Their catalytic converters are a little easier to reach when compared to those of lower profile vehicles.

How Much Does It Cost To Replace A Catalytic Converter?

While they are a quick and easy steal, catalytic converters may not be as quick and easy to replace. The average cost to replace a catalytic converter ranges from $945 to $2475, including parts and labor.

Do I Have To Replace My Catalytic Converter?

Not necessarily. Your car will still be drivable without the converter.

However, it will not be anywhere near as efficient as it was with the converter. Your vehicle will fill the air with harmful emissions, which can contribute to breathing complications over time.

Furthermore, you may be subject to hefty fines due to environmental protection laws in the event that you’re caught driving without a catalytic converter.

What Are My Options If I Don’t Want To Replace My Catalytic Converter?

smiling woman on computer sitting on couch

If replacing a stolen catalytic converter is completely out of the question for you, then feel free to contact us at CarBrain.

CarBrain provides a free online evaluation for your car, offering to purchase your vehicle in its current condition. Zero repairs are necessary!

Should you like the amount you’re quoted, our customer service agents can connect you with one of our local partners.

Once connected, you can schedule a vehicle retrieval in 24-48 hours, completely free of charge! We don’t want to cut into your profits, just tell us where the car is and we’ll come get it.

In just seconds, you’ll get the quoted amount in your hand and your roadster will be hauled away.

Fast; Convenient; Trustworthy!

Contact CarBrain today and let us help you!


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Why Is It So Expensive To Replace A Catalytic Converter?

Simply, replacing a catalytic converter is expensive because of the precious metals within them. Including labor, the replacement can range from $945 to $2745.

Will My Insurance Company Cover A Stolen Catalytic Converter?

If your auto insurance policy has comprehensive coverage, then you’re likely covered in the event your catalytic converter is stolen. The coverage will usually cover the cost of replacement as well as any damage related to the theft.