You have probably heard a lot about catalytic converter thefts lately. And, if you’re like many, you may be thinking, “What is a catalytic converter anyway?”
Simply put, a catalytic converter is an emission control devise that turns pollutants from your vehicle’s exhaust into harmless gas. What makes them a target of thieves is that they are made out of metals like platinum and palladium; precious metals that have a high resale value.
All vehicles manufactured after 1974 should have a catalytic converter. That’s a lot of cars for thieves to choose from! The list of automobiles that are most targeted for this type of theft include:
Ford F-150 (1985-2021 models)
Ford F-250 (1985-2021 models)
Honda Accord (1989-2020 models)
Chevrolet Equinox (2005-2001 models)
Jeep Patriot (2007-2017 models)
Honda CR-V (1997-2020 models)
Toyota Camry (1987-2019 models)
Chevrolet Silverado trucks (1999-2021 models)
Subaru Forester (1998-2020 models)
Toyota Prius (2001-2021 models)
Another question you might have is, “How do I know if my catalytic converter has been removed?”
For this answer, we turn to an expert in emissions, Trent Pickering, co-owner of Pickering’s Auto Service. “In Colorado, cities like Lakewood, Arvada and Westminster have a decentralized emissions testing program in place. How this works is that the State of Colorado has selected one company that performs emissions testing. That same shop cannot repair the failed vehicle. If the vehicle fails and needs repairs to pass, consumers can either repair it themselves and then be retested or have it repaired at another auto service facility. This system helps to keep the testing and the repair separate and ensures honesty.”
Brandon Pickering goes on to explain, “When your catalytic converter has been removed you may notice unusual smells and exhaust fumes. The car may make a load “roar” when you start it up and this noise will probably get worse when you step on the accelerator. Your car or truck may “sputter.” If you look under your vehicle you will notice that there are parts missing near your muffler.”
So what can you do to prevent you and your car from becoming a victim? Theft of your catalytic converter can occur in just minutes – thieves can just slide under your car with a battery-powered saw and cut it right off – but there are ways to help deter theft. First, park in high-traffic areas. A secure, well-lit area that has a lot of pedestrian foot traffic will go a long way in preventing catalytic converter theft. If you have a high profile vehicle – like a pickup truck – park between lower profile automobiles. This could make the theft more visible to by-passers and may make the thieves think twice. There are also protection devices that clamp around your converter to deter theft. The cost to replace a stolen catalytic converter can be pricey, but know that your comprehensive auto insurance policy may help cover the cost of the converter plus any other repairs needed due to damage caused by the crime.
One final thing to consider; if your catalytic converter is not replaced after being removed your engine’s performance will be affected. Sometimes to the point where you cannot even get the vehicle to start. But you will not harm your car if you drive without this mechanism in place, so do not hesitate to drive directly to a repair facility. Additionally, always report the theft to the police so that the authorities can check with area security cameras. A police report may also be helpful – or needed – for an insurance claim.