How To Protect Your Catalytic Converter From Theft

How To Protect Your Catalytic Converter From Theft

One of the strangest items in your car is the target of many thieves. Your catalytic converter could be the targeted item.

You might never think you need to worry about part of your exhaust system being stolen, but thieves show us different. This small device is a part incorporated in the exhaust system of your vehicle that contains a catalyst for converting pollutant gases into less harmful ones. This process, described perfectly in the name, doesn’t make those gases safe to consume, but changes their chemical nature, making this small part of your exhaust system extremely important.

Why Do Thieves Want to Steal this Item?

This simple and small item in your exhaust system contains precious metals that can be sold in the black market for a high price. These metals include platinum, rhodium, and palladium. Currently, the prices for most of these metals is much higher than gold, making them extremely rare, valuable, and a target for car thieves with only a little understanding of how to remove this item from your car. These precious metals are necessary to convert exhaust gases into what actually leaves your tailpipe.

Can you Drive a Car Without a Catalytic Converter?

Yes, you can drive your car without this item. In fact, some people that customize their vehicles will delete this item to ensure a couple of things happen and don’t happen. First, they want the car to sound better and this device does help to silence the sounds the want. Second, they don’t want their car vandalized. Without this device in the exhaust system, a thief will move on because they aren’t going to make any money from a part that isn’t present. Of course, some states require these devices, which makes it tricky for some drivers.

Which Cars Are Most Likely to Have this Device Stolen?

There ae many models targeted for this type of theft. The main reason these cars are the biggest target is the ease of which the item can be removed. The quicker a thief can remove this device and move on, the more likely the are to target your vehicle. The ten most popular models for theft of this exhaust device are:

  • 1985-2021 Ford F-Series pickup trucks
  • 1989-202 Honda Accord
  • 2007-2017 Jeep Patriot
  • 1990-2022 Ford Econoline vans
  • 1999-2021 Chevrolet Silverado pickup trucks
  • 2005-2021 Chevrolet Equinox
  • 1997-2020 Honda CR-V
  • 1987-2019 Toyota Camry
  • 2011-2017 Chrysler 200
  • 2001-2021 Toyota Prius

The Toyota Prius is on the list because more o the precious metals are used for hybrid cars than regular models. This puts other hybrids at risk as well.

How Long Does it Take to Steal this Device?

You might think it takes a long time to steal this item, but the reality is, most thieves can take your catalytic converter in a matter of 2 to 3 minutes. All they need is a battery-powered reciprocating saw and a metal cutting blade and they’ll be gone in a hurry. If other construction is going on in the area, you’ll never know they cut out this item unless you notice part of your exhaust hanging down.

What Cars have the Most Expensive Catalytic Converters?

Cars with more than one exhaust line require owners to pay twice as much to replace these devices than those with only one exhaust line. To date, the most expensive model belongs to the Ferrari F430. For this car, each item costs $3,770 to replace and the vehicle requires two of them. If a car thief gets away with both of them, the price would be $7,540.

Will Your Insurance Pay if this Device is Stolen?

This depends on our policy coverage. If you only carry collision insurance, you’re out of luck. On the other hand, if you have comprehensive coverage, your insurance will pay to have the item replaced. You will need to pay the deductible, but you can have this device replaced and put back in your exhaust line. Of course, if you live in a state where it’s not required, you might not bother going through the trouble to have the device replaced at all.

How Can You Tell if Your Catalytic Converter has Been Stolen?

Yes, your car can operate without this device in the exhaust line, but you will notice a difference, and it will happen right away. If this item is no longer part of your vehicle, you’ll experience:

  • Loud roar when you start the car that gets louder as you accelerate
  • Increase in exhaust fumes or unusual exhaust smells
  • Missing parts under the vehicle leading to the muffler
  • Uneven or sputtering acceleration from the lack of exhaust regulation
  • Check engine light or inspection failure

Those that customize their vehicles to work without this device take steps to ensure proper operation of the vehicle without the item. Thieves won’t be quite so courteous with your vehicle.

How Can You Protect Your Car from This Type of Theft?

There are some steps you can take to ensure this device isn’t stolen from your car. Some of these steps are:

  • Etch the license plate number or VIN on the catalytic converter
  • Park in well-lit areas close to public entrances. Use your garage as often as possible
  • Install an anti-theft device on the item
  • Install motion-sensitive lights and cameras in your parking area
  • Paint your catalytic converter to deter buyers

Some of these steps act as deterrents when the thief tries to sell the item on the black market while others work to avoid the item being stolen at all.

How Much is a Catalytic Converter Worth on the Black Market?

Depending on the model, these items typically bring a thief between $50 and $500 on the black market. It will cost you much more than that to have the item replaced on your car. Its important that you take steps to avoid this device being stolen. Even if your insurance replaces it, you’ll deal with the hassle and then wonder if the next device you install in your exhaust system will also become a target.

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