Catalytic Converter Theft - How to Protect Your Car

If there is one thing that a Toyota Prius and a Chevy Silverado have in common, it’s that they are prime targets for catalytic converter theft. You’ve probably heard about it before, catalytic converters became a hot street commodity throughout the pandemic. In fact, catalytic converter theft has quadrupled in the nation since the beginning of last year according to the NICB. But who is after them and how can you protect your car from being a victim? Find out today in our blog post!

How Does A Catalytic Converter Work?

The catalytic converter makes up a crucial part of your car’s exhaust system and is mandatory for all cars since 1975. Due to the Energy Policy Conservation Act, car manufacturers were given only a few years to reduce emissions by 90%. While that seems like an impossible task to accomplish, car makers pulled it off with the help of catalytic converters. In simple terms, the rare metals inside such as Rhodium, Platinum and Palladium, neutralize the harmful chemicals created by the combustion engine to significantly decrease your car’s emission levels.

Why Thieves Are After Catalytic Converters

Now since you are aware of how a catalytic converter works, it’s important to understand that the precious metals inside of it are quite expensive to come by. And that is exactly what the thieves today are after.

  • Platinum - $1060 per ounce
  • Palladium - $2638 per ounce
  • Rhodium - $17000 per ounce

At the beginning of 2020, Rhodium went for an incredible $5000 an ounce but jumped to over $25,000 per ounce throughout the last year. Since it was already a rare metal to begin with, its value increased tremendously as mines throughout the world were shut down. Now, a regular car doesn’t have ounces of Rhodium under the hood, but the amounts are still enough for thieves to make a good amount of money reselling the part. Even scrap catalytic converters will make up to $200-300 at the scrap yard while a new one will cost you around $1500 dollars when stolen depending on the car.

If Your Catalytic Converter Has Been Stolen..

Since the catalytic converter funnels all exhaust gas through the rest of your exhaust system, having it stolen can severely affect your car’s daily driving ability. First of all, with a missing catalytic converter your mufflers are unable to streamline any noise, basically making your car a “straight pipe” which can be extremely loud. Even worse, since your catalytic converter is closer to the engine bay, exhaust gases, noise, and extreme heat will exit right below your car. That can potentially damage fragile parts such as melting fuses or cables. Future Auto Service recommends visiting a repair service as soon as possible if your car has been subject to catalytic converter theft.

What Makes Certain Cars Targets for Catalytic Converter Theft

Do thieves just go to any old car to steal its catalytic converter? Well, a catalytic converter lasts just about 10 years, so thieves usually target newer vehicles. But there are also other factors coming into play. For example, consider the fuel economy of the car. The Toyota Prius has been a well known target because just like any other plug-in hybrid, they tend to use their engine less often, causing the precious metals in the catalytic converter to last longer. On the other hand, imagine a Ford F-150. Due to its larger engine and higher emissions, it carries a bigger catalytic converter compared to other cars, with a higher quantity of precious metals. In addition, the ride height of the car makes it incredibly easy for thieves to access and remove what they are looking for.

How Can I Protect My Car’s Catalytic Converter?

If your car’s catalytic converter has been stolen or you are afraid of your car becoming targeted, there are several ways to stay protected. First, keeping your car inside the garage overnight and avoiding street parking in unknown neighborhoods will take your car off thieves' radar. But since that is not always an option, Future Auto Service in Burbank recommends installing a cat-shield. This metal cover will secure your catalytic converter from underneath. That way, thieves will be unable to physically remove the part from your car, keeping you, your car and your wallet happy. If you are in the greater Los Angeles area and are considering a cat shield installment for your car, no matter what make or model, our experienced service professionals got you covered! Click here to set up an appointment today!