What is a catalytic converter and what should you do if yours is stolen?

December 20, 2021 | SECURA Insurance

You’ve probably thought about your stereo or other expensive personal belongings being stolen from your car, but have you ever thought about your catalytic converter being stolen? Catalytic converters are becoming an increasingly popular item for thieves to steal due to their monetary scrap metal value.

Learn more about catalytic converters, why they’re being stolen, and what to do if you find yourself in this scenario.  

What is a catalytic converter?

Catalytic converters help convert toxic gas and pollutants found in your car’s exhaust and turn it into less toxic pollutants. In 1975, all cars in the United States were required to have a catalytic converter to help break down the toxins in the exhaust. The catalytic converter can be found on the underside of your car, between the exhaust and muffler.

Why do people steal catalytic converters?

Auto theft during the pandemic has been rising since the prices for valuable metals have been climbing. Catalytic converters are valuable for scrap metal, since they contain metals such as rhodium, platinum and palladium. Thieves can make as much as $700 per converter from scrap metal buyers.

Catalytic converters are easy to steal because they can be removed in just a few minutes. SUVs and trucks have a higher risk of theft because they are more accessible due to being higher off the ground and easier to crawl under.

How will I know if my catalytic converter was stolen?  

When you turn on your engine you will hear a loud roaring sound which will get louder as you press down on the gas pedal. Your car also won’t drive smoothly if your exhaust isn’t working correctly. Visually, you might also notice something is different or missing from your exhaust when walking to your car.

What to do if your catalytic converter was stolen?

The first step is to call the police so they can write a police report on the situation. The police may not be able to find the person responsible for stealing your catalytic converter, but this report can help police stop future theft. Next, you need to contact your insurance company and file a claim. Finally, find a mechanic you can trust to make sure they replace the catalytic converter correctly so you don’t cause any further damage to your car.