Before you even read on, you might be wondering what a catalytic converter even is. In short, the catalytic converter is an essential piece of your car’s emissions control system, responsible for taking in the toxic pollutants that would normally be emitted from your vehicle’s tailpipe and converting them into far less toxic substances.
Even with an understanding of what the pieces actually are, you may still wonder why thieves have an interest in taking them. It seems like an oddly specific part, and there must be more valuable parts on your car to steal, but in actuality, stealing catalytic converters has more to do with the substances inside them and how valuable they can be.
Within catalytic converters are various precious metals, specifically palladium, rhodium, and platinum, which can sell for upwards of tens of thousands of dollars per ounce! However, extracting the metals is no easy feat, which is why thieves generally steal and sell entire catalytic converters to recyclers who can handle extraction.
Even with tightening regulations, extra paperwork, and laws that prevent the purchase of stolen catalytic converters, there are still unscrupulous customers willing to pay for them, and the police have a difficult time catching thieves because they would have to catch the thief in the act of removing the converter from a victim’s car. A thief can just leave with the piece, and no one would be the wiser until it’s too late.
Unfortunately, driving around without a catalytic converter isn’t a good option, either. Not only will it result in increased harmful emissions, but your car will also start to run poorly, get worse gas mileage, and provide uneven, surging acceleration.
What Can You Do to Protect Your Car?
Aside from switching to an electric car to avoid the problem altogether, you can make stealing your catalytic converter more difficult by:
Keeping Your Car in the Garage
Make sure your garage is locked when your car is inside, too! Of course, it’s not always possible to park in a locked garage, so when parking outside, do so in well-lit spots, preferably monitored by cameras.
Getting a Catalytic Converter Anti-Theft Device
You can purchase a cage or shield that welds in place or requires special tools to remove. Installing one might cost you roughly a thousand dollars, but seeing as how replacing a catalytic converter can cost upwards of $8,000, it’s well worth it.
Using Motion Detectors
Using cameras is great for keeping watch over your car, but motion detection can take protection to the next level. If an intruder approaches your car, you can have your security system alarm you and automatically call the police. The system can play a sound to alert the thief, and you can even use your doorbell camera’s speaker to speak to the thief directly.
Writing the VIN on the Catalytic Converter
Doing so won’t necessarily protect it from being stolen, but it will increase your chances of getting it back if it is.
Keeping What’s Yours
Catalytic converters are valuable items, especially if you own a hybrid, but you can invest in enough of a deterrent that they’ll move on and leave your car alone.