Whenever people think of the words “theft” and “vehicle” together, they usually have a picture of smashed windows, missing audio equipment, and even a completely missing car. Drivers usually put little stock in the machinery attached to the bottom of the vehicle — particularly the catalytic converter.
The catalytic converter turns dangerous pollutants into harmless gases. It has been a necessary feature of car’s exhaust system since the 1970s and is found near the engine’s exhaust manifold on most vehicles. It can be easily seen from underneath a vehicle.
Catalytic converters are sought after since they contain precious metals like platinum, rhodium, and palladium. Thieves can sell the converters to unregulated scrap yards for around $200 each depending on the size and the quality of the metal inside. The number of catalytic converter thefts that happen in the United States depends on the different prices of the metals inside. Whenever prices increases, so do instances of theft.
The cost to change a catalytic converter starts anywhere from $500 to over $2000 to change a catalytic converter. Surrounding part damage can add to high replacement costs. The vehicle will not function properly, nor is it legal to drive without one.
How Do these Thieves Steal Catalytic Converters?
Thieves always target vehicles with easily accessible catalytic converters, such as pickup trucks and certain SUVs. Vehicles left for extended periods of time in poorly monitored lots tend to be the most common locations.
It only requires a saw and a few minutes to remove a catalytic converter. In some situations, catalytic converter thieves will use a board to slide themselves beneath a car, or, if time permits, use a jack to lift up the vehicle. Once underneath, the thief saws through the piping on both sides of the converter to pull it off of the vehicle.
How to Know If Your Catalytic Converter is missing?
You will be able to tell that something’s wrong immediately after turning on the vehicle after your catalytic converter has been stolen. You will observe the following 2 symptoms:
- A loud rumbling or roaring sound will come from the engine, which will keep increasing in volume as you press the gas pedal.
- The vehicle will drive rough and feel like it’s sputtering while changing speeds.
- If you inspect beneath the vehicle from the back side, you will notice a gaping hole in the machinery, near the middle of the exhaust system, as well as pieces of torn-away piping.
How to Stop Catalytic Converter Theft:
Because the catalytic converter thieves tend to target vehicle at ideal locations, most prevention methods surround parking practices. Here are 6 tips to avoid catalytic converter theft.
- Park in a well-lit area.
- Park your car close to building entrances or the nearest road in public parking lots. This leaves your vehicle in a location where many people can view it.
- If you have a personal garage, keep your vehicle parked inside with the door shut.
- Add video surveillance to the area where you regularly park your vehicle.
- Mount a catalytic converter-specific security device, or have it welded to the vehicle frame. You can equally engrave your vehicles VIN number to the catalytic converter.
- Adjust the security system on your vehicle, if already installed, to activate from vibrations, such as those produced by a saw.
Call on the police department first if you observe that your catalytic converter has been stolen, and offer any identifying details you can. Additionally, call local scrap metal yards to notify them of the theft. They can be on the lookout if anyone comes in with a catalytic converter.
Remember: the best way to keep off theft is to make access to your vehicle’s converter as inconvenient and hard as possible. This implies taking preventative measures like smart parking and engraving your VIN number to the catalytic converter. Stay on the lookout for catalytic converter theft in your area, and respond accordingly.