The Best Automotive Shop & Body Repair In OKC!
(405) 634-8200
The Best Automotive Shop & Body Repair In OKC!
(405) 634-8200

What’s a Catalytic Converter & Why are People Stealing ’em?

catalytic converter theft on the rise, what is a catalytic converter

Perhaps you have heard recently that catalytic converter theft in on the rise and wondered to yourself, “What is a catalytic converter and why in the world are people suddenly stealing them”? It isn’t surprising that you may not have heard of a catalytic converter, unless you are just a “car person”.  While we will explain what one is and why its being stolen, more importantly we will be sharing information on how you can keep your catalytic converter safe from those who wish to come take it like a thief in the night.

What Is a Catalytic Converter?

Your catalytic converter is a critical component of your vehicle’s exhaust system. All “street legal” cars & trucks are required to have a catalytic converter as has been required since 1974. One can easily locate it as it is just under the vehicle bolted to your exhaust pipe. The job of the catalytic converter is to filter harmful compounds from your vehicle’s exhaust gases before they are released into the air. The are very important for reducing air pollution. Without a catalytic converter on your vehicle, you would be releasing larger amounts of carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and hydrocarbons into the air. And, while you can technically drive your vehicle without this addition to your exhaust system, it could hurt vehicle performance (it’s also illegal to remove such in many states)!

Why Are Folks Stealing Catalytic Converters?

People are not stealing catalytic converters in some anti-green pro-climate change type of protest…hah! No, the actual reason that catalytic converters are stolen is because they’re valuable. They contain precious metals (platinum, palladium or rhodium). With metal prices on the rise, scrap yards are paying good money for the stolen converters (on average $150 to $200 per catalytic converter depending on the market value of the metals at the time of the purchase).

Is Your vehicle a Likely Target?

Thieves like low hanging fruit so to speak. They want to be able to get it and get away fast so as not to get caught. For this reason, SUVs and raised vehicles are more appealing than a car that sits lower to the ground. They are just easier to crawl under and maneuver around to get the converter easier. Newer vehicles are more at risk than older ones, too. This is because as time marches on, those valuable metals inside the catalytic converter can corrode. Lastly, hybrid vehicles are more susceptible because they run cleaner and thus there is less corrosion inside the catalytic converters. In fact, a Toyota Prius is the number one target for catalytic converter theft, most likely because the amount of money the thieves can get for those specific ones can be as much as $700! Sadly, for the driver of a Prius it costs well above $700 to replace a missing Prius converter.  Learn more about what cars are targeted most often.

How will you know if your catalytic converter has been stolen?

A catalytic converter can typically be removed in just a few minutes. To make matters worse, because it sits under your vehicle, visually its likely you will not notice its absence, however, once you start your vehicle, they’ll be no mistaking that something has gone wrong. Your car will be making a loud sound that will only get louder as you push on the gas pedal. Your vehicle will driver less smoothly and make sputtering sounds. If you look under your vehicle, you will be able to see that the two pipes of your exhaust system that seem to be missing a piece in the middle to connect the them – yes, that missing piece is the catalytic converter!

How can you prevent the theft of your catalytic converter?

There are 4 things you can do to help ward off would be thieves (more here):

  1. Park your vehicle inside your garage when you are at home and otherwise park in well-lit areas.
  2. Have your trusted mechanic weld it to your vehicle’s frame, as this will make it harder to steal.
  3. Calibrate your car’s alarm so that is more sensitive to vibrations and more likely to go off.
  4. Engrave your vehicle vin # on your catalytic converter (a scrap yard dealer might notice and realize its stolen, assuming the thieves don’t pre-gut it before taking it in for scrap metal sale).

With higher unemployment rates and more people staying at home over the past year, it seems this type of theft is on the rise. And while most comprehensive auto insurance policies will cover the cost to replace your catalytic converter should it be stolen; liability insurance will cover nothing on such incidences. Share this information with you neighbors, friends, and family – the more people who are keeping their eyes open for this sort of crimes the better we can all help to mitigate the risks.

If you find yourself in a situation that requires a repair, know that you can always trust the mechanics at OKC Auto Works to get your car up and running again, no matter what took your vehicle out of service in the first place. (405) 634-8200