How to tell if your catalytic converter has been stolen
- Loud roar when you start the car, louder as you accelerate.
- Increase in exhaust fumes, or unusual exhaust smells.
- Missing parts under vehicle leading to muffler.
- Uneven or sputtering acceleration due to lack of exhaust regulation.
- 1 How do I stop people from stealing my catalytic converter?
- 2 What part of catalytic converter is stolen?
- 2.1 Will my check engine light come on if I remove my catalytic converter?
- 2.2 How long will an engine last with a bad catalytic converter?
- 2.3 What happens if I don’t replace my catalytic converter?
- 2.4 What do thieves do with stolen catalytic?
Will my car start if the catalytic converter is stolen?
What should I do if it’s been stolen? – If your converter has been stolen, you’re likely to notice right away: Without the converter, your car will be much noisier than usual. Most cars will run without a catalytic converter, though it’s inadvisable to do so for longer than necessary.
- Because the purpose of a catalytic converter is to reduce harmful emissions, cars without one will pollute much more heavily than an intact car, and you could fail an emissions inspection in states that require them.
- When thieves use a saw to remove a catalytic converter, they can also cause damage to nearby parts of your car, like the alternator or fuel lines.
It’s best to get your car checked out by a mechanic as soon as possible. And check your car insurance. Comprehensive coverage on an auto insurance policy will cover damage to your car that occurs outside of a collision – including theft.
How do I stop people from stealing my catalytic converter?
How to Protect a Catalytic Converter: 8 Ways to Prevent Theft Keep your catalytic converter safe with these expert tips Did you know that more than 10,000 catalytic converters were reported stolen in 2020 alone? With the number of thefts on the rise, it’s more important than ever to protect this valuable part.
- Paint your catalytic converter a bright color to help deter thieves from stealing it.
- Install an or cage over your catalytic converter so it’s harder to access.
- Weld your catalytic converter to the frame of your car so it’s hard for thieves to remove.
- Adjust your vehicle alarm’s sensitivity so it better detects any vibrations from thieves.
- 1 Paint your converter a bright color. Painted catalytic converters are more difficult to sell since scrapyards know that they’re stolen, meaning thieves are less likely to take them. Use a red or orange so it can tolerate when your exhaust system gets hot. and find the catalytic converter, which looks like a large cylindrical piece on the main exhaust line. Scrub the catalytic converter clean with a scouring pad and rubbing alcohol. Then, apply 2–3 coats of spray paint so it has a clean, even appearance.
- 2 Engrave your VIN onto your catalytic converter. Catalytic converters with VINs carved into them are harder for thieves to sell, so they’ll avoid stealing them. at the base of the dashboard or on your vehicle’s registration, and write it down. Get underneath your vehicle so you can access the catalytic converter. Use an to carve the number in a few different places on the converter. Advertisement
- 3 Increase your vehicle alarm’s sensitivity. Check your vehicle’s manual to see if it has an adjustable alarm setting. If it does, increase the sensitivity so the alarm goes off if thieves lift or tilt your vehicle trying to access the catalytic converter.
- If your vehicle doesn’t have an alarm system, an aftermarket for your catalytic converter.
- 4 Weld the catalytic converter to the frame. If your catalytic converter is bolted onto your exhaust system, the pieces together so thieves can’t just unscrew the bolts. Alternatively, weld extra pieces of sheet metal over the bolts to cover them.
- If you don’t feel comfortable welding yourself, take your vehicle to a mechanic.
- When it’s time to, you’ll need a saw to cut through the welds on your exhaust pipe if you choose to do repairs yourself. Otherwise, a mechanic can do it for you.
- 5 Install an or cage. An anti-theft shield or cage is a piece of metal that fits over your catalytic converter so thieves aren’t able to access it. Just bolt the shield or cage onto your vehicle’s frame so it’s secured.
- Ask your mechanic if they have any special anti-theft devices they could install on your vehicle. They may have more options that aren’t available at the store.
- 6 Put up or around your parking spot. If you have to leave your vehicle parked out in the open, invest in some motion-sensor lights to help scare away potential thieves. For even better protection, put a few security cameras where thieves can easily see them so they know they’re being recorded.
- 7 Park in well-lit or enclosed areas. If you’re parking in a public place, choose a populated area with a lot of light since thieves are less likely to target your vehicle if they think someone is watching. If you have a garage at home, park inside so no one can access your vehicle.
- 8 Start a neighborhood watch. Reach out to your neighbors and let them know that you’re concerned about catalytic converter thieves in your area. Let them know to watch out for any suspicious activity, like people working on vehicles late at night. If you suspect someone was trying to steal your neighbor’s catalytic converter, let them know right away so they can be on alert.
- 1 Hybrid vehicles are the most common targets. Hybrid cars have larger catalytic converters and they may even have multiple on the exhaust line. Since the catalytic converters are bigger, they contain more rare metals like palladium, platinum, and rhodium that are valuable when they’re sold for scrap. The most common targeted makes and models are:
- Toyota Prius
- Honda Element
- Honda Accord
- 2 Pickup trucks & SUVs have easy-to-access catalytic converters. Since trucks and SUVs are higher off the ground, thieves don’t need to jack them up to reach the catalytic converter. Common trucks and SUVs that are targeted are:
- Honda CRV
- Ford Econoline
- Ford F-250
- Ford Excursion
- Toyota Tundra
- Toyota Sequoia
- Toyota Tacoma
- 3 Any vehicle made after 1975 is a potential target. Back in 1975, the EPA mandated that all cars have catalytic converters installed so emissions were less harmful. Therefore, any vehicle made after 1975 can technically be targeted, although the vehicles listed above are the most common targets.
- 1 Loud engine roar Since the catalytic converter is missing on your exhaust line, your engine will loudly rumble right when you turn it on. If you try accelerating, then the roar will get even louder.
- 2 Rough driving and accelerating If you press down on the gas pedal, check if your engine is sputtering or having a hard time keeping up. If it is, it’s a sign your exhaust isn’t working properly, which may mean your catalytic converter is missing.
- 3 Rotten egg smell Since the exhaust isn’t passing through the filter in the catalytic converter, it still has a strong and unpleasant odor. If something smells odd or if you’re getting lightheaded while you’re driving,,
- 4 Large gap in your exhaust line Jack your vehicle up and look for the main exhaust line running from your engine to your tailpipe. Your exhaust line should be one continuous length without any gaps, so a missing section means your catalytic converter was taken.
- You may also see rough edges or sharp cuts on the exhaust pipe if someone used a saw to cut through it.
- 1 Report the theft to the police department. Contact your local authorities as soon as you discover your catalytic converter is missing. Give the police information about you and your vehicle, and let them know what happened. They may be able to find the culprit who took your catalytic converter, and you’ll need the police report for any insurance claims you file.
- 2 Check if your insurance covers catalytic converter theft. Most full-coverage insurance covers catalytic converter theft, so double-check your policy. File a claim as soon as you can so you only have to cover your deductible rather than paying full price for any costly repairs or replacement parts.
- 3 Take your vehicle to a mechanic for a replacement. Have your vehicle towed in for repairs since you shouldn’t drive around without a catalytic converter. Since you’re normally required to have a catalytic converter on your vehicle, let the mechanic install the new part on your exhaust line so you can start driving again.
- Catalytic converter replacements could cost anywhere from $1,000–3,000 USD.
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Advertisement This article was co-authored by and by wikiHow staff writer,, Saul Jaeger is a Police Officer and Captain of the Mountain View, California Police Department (MVPD). Saul has over 17 years of experience as a patrol officer, field training officer, traffic officer, detective, hostage negotiator, and as the traffic unit’s sergeant and Public Information Officer for the MVPD.
At the MVPD, in addition to commanding the Field Operations Division, Saul has also led the Communications Center (dispatch) and the Crisis Negotiation Team. He earned an MS in Emergency Services Management from the California State University, Long Beach in 2008 and a BS in Administration of Justice from the University of Phoenix in 2006.
He also earned a Corporate Innovation LEAD Certificate from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business in 2018. This article has been viewed 16,549 times.
- Co-authors: 3
- Updated: February 28, 2023
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Thanks to all authors for creating a page that has been read 16,549 times. : How to Protect a Catalytic Converter: 8 Ways to Prevent Theft
What part of catalytic converter is stolen?
Why are catalytic converters stolen? – The three precious metals that are in catalytic converters — platinum, palladium and rhodium — sell for high prices, making them an appealing target for theft. Platinum sold for about $1,100 per ounce in 2021, and palladium sold for nearly $2,400 per ounce in 2021, according to,
Rhodium could sell for an average of $18,000 per ounce in 2021, at one point during the year selling for as much as $26,000. When a catalytic converter is stolen, these precious metals can be and sold. There are some companies that will purchase converters and pay anywhere from $140 to $1,500. Converters are also easy for many thieves to steal, with an experienced thief often able to remove a converter within minutes with the help of tools from the hardware store, according to,
Newer and more advanced models of converters, such as those in hybrid cars, are because they contain more precious metals. Thieves may also be more likely to target taller cars that are easier to get underneath.
What happens to stolen catalytic?
The crime uptick and how these thefts happen – One of the questions surrounding the meteoric rise in catalytic converter theft is “Why now?” The answer, as you may have guessed, has something to do with changes in the supply chain wrought by the pandemic.
Platinum, palladium, and rhodium are all scarce metals that have to be mined. Rhodium, the most rare and valuable of the three, is mined mostly in South Africa, followed by Russia, Although thefts slowly began creeping up in 2019, they grew in 2020 and boomed in 2021 mostly because of the pandemic, the experts I spoke with told me.
Like everywhere else in the world, workers couldn’t mine, process, and ship these metals due to restrictions. And if they did, it’s likely there were other hurdles and disruptions along the supply chain. The fact that people weren’t driving their cars as often during the beginning of the pandemic combined with higher valuations for these metals created a perfect storm to incentivize catalytic converter theft. Catalytic converters range in price, depending on the year, make, and model. Those that have more precious metals — like hybrid cars, such as the Toyota Prius — are more likely to be targeted. According to the Los Angeles Times, the Prius is the number one hit car in the West (and California the number one state for thefts, per the NICB), with its two catalytic converters running up to a grand each, making it a double whammy for thieves.
Other cars that are likely to be hit include fleet vehicles (such as USPS trucks, school buses, and even Oscar Mayer’s Wienermobile, which tend to sit unmonitored in lots when not in use) and anything with a higher clearance, including trucks and SUVs. Since these vehicles have more room under them, it’s easier for thieves to slip underneath, slice the converter out, and slide out undetected.
(It doesn’t always go smoothly — in February, an unsuspecting driver of a Ford Excursion in California had been asleep in a retail parking lot when a thief crawled under and began sawing. Awoken by the sound, the driver accidentally ran over the thief, killing them.) Thieves usually operate in teams, according to Handley and Bates.
- Give a team an hour, and rows of cars in a parking lot will get hit.
- All it takes is an electric saw or other metal-cutting tool.
- After a cat is stolen, you’re at a greater risk of getting hit again once you’ve replaced it, said Handley.
- Because then they know that you’re vulnerable and they know you’re going to fix it,” she explained.
“And if your car is still sitting in your driveway a month later with a new catalytic converter, that new catalytic converter actually has more fresh material in it. They’re going to hit you again.” The number of catalytic converters a thief has in their possession matters.
- Each converter only has a tiny amount of precious metals, so it’s much more worthwhile to steal dozens, if not hundreds.
- In the US, most thieves will sell converters to several metal recyclers or scrap yards that aren’t checking for identification.
- These middlemen, Bates says, will pay an individual or entity up front for a converter, and then sell to a refinery once they’ve accumulated enough worth selling.
(To be clear, Bates’s company does track drivers and business licenses.) Because the processing machines are gigantic and require at least 2,000 pounds worth of material, most shops will need to sell around 800 converters at a time. Then the converters are crushed into dust and refined.
Will my check engine light come on if I remove my catalytic converter?
The catalytic converter converts harmful byproducts of internal combustion to less-harmful compounds. If there’s an exhaust leak letting gasses out of the system before it reaches the converter, if the converter becomes damaged or if it’s missing altogether, the check engine light will activate in your dashboard.
How long will an engine last with a bad catalytic converter?
How Long Can You Drive With a Bad Catalytic Converter ? – You can drive your car indefinitely with a partially plugged converter. But we do not advise this as it’ll affect your car’s performance and possibly cause problems to build (on top of releasing unprocessed exhaust gas from your exhaust pipe.) Would you expect a professional football player with an injury to still take to the field? No, right? So you shouldn’t take the risk either.
What happens if I don’t replace my catalytic converter?
My 2005 Nissan Altima’s “Service Engine Soon” light has turned on twice in the past month. A diagnostic test indicates that my catalytic converter is “failing”. If I don’t have the converter replaced right away, will it harm my engine? – Mark P0420 is the generic code that was likely stored in your vehicles computer to indicate that the catalytic converter efficiency is below the manufacturer’s specified threshold.
The fuel management system constantly makes finite fuel adjustments; the oxygen sensors produce a corresponding voltage that varies according to those finite changes. The fuel management system monitors the converter by using the readings from both the upstream (pre-converter) and downstream (post converter) oxygen sensors.
The sole purpose of the downstream oxygen sensor is to monitor how efficiently the catalytic converter is operating. The computer makes these calculations by observing the fluctuating voltage of the upstream sensor and comparing it to the downstream. If the rear reading is similar to the front, this indicates that the converter is no longer “efficiently” doing its job.
- The “Service Engine Soon” light is illuminated and the P0420 code is stored.
- When the converter first starts showing signs of failure, it will not immediately affect the engine.
- Left unchecked, however, it will eventually degrade and collapse, plugging the exhaust, which will choke vehicle performance and limit the life of the motor.
Lou Trottier is owner-operator of All About Imports in Mississauga. Have a question about maintenance and repair? E-mail [email protected], placing “Lou’s Garage” in the subject area. Sign up for our newly-designed weekly newsletter Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and Twitter Matt Bubbers explains why cars such as the Tesla Model 3 and Chevrolet Bolt are worth waiting until 2017 to buy a new car.=
What do catalytic converter thieves look for?
How Much is a Stolen Catalytic Converter Worth? – Big money is the main motivation for catalytic converter thieves. According to Mining Technology News, platinum, palladium, and rhodium are among the most expensive mined materials. For instance, in January 2020, the pre-pandemic spot price of Rhodium was $5850 per ounce and increased to over $30,000 per ounce at the peak.
- Even today, the market value of Rhodium runs high at $15,000 per ounce.
- The ease of stealing catalytic converters all while keeping their anonymity is appealing for criminals.
- With a reciprocating saw, a person can get under the car or truck and out in about 30 seconds with little likelihood of getting caught.
With the current state of the economy and increasing cost of living across the U.S., catalytic converter theft can seem as a means to an end with a hefty financial bonus. Every vehicle contains a different amount of precious metal, therefore, making some vehicles more sought after.
- Some early 2000 model vehicles contain a very high level of precious metals because manufacturers were trying to make cleaner cars and the prices of the metal was extremely cheap at that time.
- This is why the early model Prius and early 2000 Accords are highly sought after.
- Prius and Accord converters fetch some of the highest price on the black market and can earn a thief almost $1,000 for less than a minute of work.
Thieves do have a preference on which converter they will steal, but almost every gasoline or diesel powered vehicle is a potential target. Unfortunately, the vehicle owner, depending on the vehicle make and model, can pay anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000 for a catalytic converter part replacement.
Are catalytic converters stolen a lot?
As Many As 153,000. Catalytic converter theft has been a serious threat to car owners for years, but it turns out there have been far more incidents than previously reported, new Carfax data shows – as many as 153,000 in the U.S. in 2022.
What are thieves after when they steal catalytic converters?
Catalytic converter theft continues to rise nationwide. Thieves can steal this antipollution device in minutes, sell it to scrap metal dealers and receive hundreds of dollars for the precious metals it contains. According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), nearly 14,500 catalytic converters were stolen nationally in 2020, and that number jumped to 50,000 in 2021.
- State Farm, the largest insurer of automobiles in the U.S., says its number of claims for stolen catalytic converters hit 43,219 nationally for the period of July 2021 to June 2022, representing a 109% increase compared with the previous 12 months.
- On Nov.2, the Justice Department announced the takedown of a national, multimillion-dollar catalytic converter theft network.
Officials said they would seek $545 million in forfeitures of cash, luxury cars and real estate from those arrested in the operation. In a press release, Attorney General Merrick Garland said, “We will continue to work alongside our state and local partners to disrupt criminal conspiracies like this one that target the American people.” State lawmakers across the country have already been responding to the surge in catalytic converter thefts, and the NICB is tracking more than 150 pieces of legislation either enacted or under consideration to prevent these thefts.
Regulating who can buy and sell catalytic converters and then requiring buyers to keep detailed transaction records. Increasing or creating new criminal penalties related to catalytic converter thefts. Making it easier to track stolen catalytic converters. New York now requires new car dealers to offer serial number etching kits to customers at cost. A California bill that would have required car dealers to etch converters with a vehicle’s unique vehicle identification number (VIN) did not pass.
A federal bill called the Preventing Auto Recycling Theft Act, or PART Act, was introduced in early 2022 and is still making its way through Congress. It would require the VIN to be stamped on catalytic converters of new vehicles and would create a grant program for VIN stamping of existing vehicles. Just answer a few questions to get personalized results from our lending partners.
What do thieves do with stolen catalytic?
What can really stop thieves from stealing my catalytic converter? HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Catalytic converter thefts are happening frequently, but now people are finding new ways to stop thieves from stealing them. Catalytic converters are auto devices that neutralize harmful gases in engine exhaust that contribute to air pollution and smog, according to the website.
- Catalytic converters contain metals that are more precious than gold, such as platinum, rhodium and palladium.
- When stolen, thieves take the part to a scrap yard or recycler in exchange for cash.
- Wilders auto repair shop says nearly 20 catalytic converters were stolen over the past year in three different instances.
The stolen converters were worth about $20,000 in total. Wilder Auto Repair shop worker holding a catalytic converter without the casing. Photo credit: Rolynn Wilson. Since then, they have added 16 new cameras on their property with motion sensors and light to catch thieves in action. Catalytic converter thefts have increased throughout Central Virginia, causing people to find creative ways to prevent people from stealing them.
- This includes spray painting the outside and engraving their license plate or VIN number on it.
- While these tricks may be useful, owner Roger Wilder of Wilders Auto Repair said this is not the most effective tactic.
- They could just gut it and put it in a box in a bucket and still sell it,” said Roger Wilder, owner of Wilders Auto Repair.
Instead, he recommends getting a, which is a device that acts as a metal shield surrounding the catalytic converter. While it is more difficult to install and requires a special tool. Wilder says this makes it very difficult for thieves to steal the part that they are looking for because it will take longer to remove this shield and is noisy.
Ford and Chevrolet: full-size passenger vans, including box trucks, commercial vans, and minibussesToyota: Prius, which has two catalytic convertersHonda: Element, Accord and Civic models
Henrico Police asks the public to report suspicious activity to local law enforcement. Copyright 2023 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. : What can really stop thieves from stealing my catalytic converter?
What happens if catalytic converter fails?
5. Your Engine Misfires – The performance of your engine, and your vehicle, depends on complete fuel combustion. A bad catalytic converter will lead to incomplete combustion within the firing cylinders causing an engine misfire and making it challenging for your car to start.