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Everything you need to know about catalytic converter theft

Along with platinum, palladium and rhodium, there are other metals in catalytic converter that increase their worth. Catalytic converters have a unique structure inside of the metal box, which includes copper, nickel, iron, cerium and manganese.

Why do people steal catalytic converters? 


Catalytic converters are crucial for your cars to emit safe emissions. These car parts convert harmful toxins into safer compounds. They are located on the underside of a vehicle, look like a big metal box, and are easy to steal. Catalytic converters have a positive impact on the environment, and they hold a lot of worth. 

Catalytic converters are made out of precious metals, which drastically increase the car parts’ worth. They can be taken from vehicles with a jack and an angle grinder, and some skill and knowledge of the car part. Thieves are attracted to stealing catalytic converters because of their value and how easy it can be to remove them from vehicles. There are many catalytic converters buyers who collect catalytic converters to recycle them. This makes it easier for catalytic converter thieves to receive the monetary value of the car part. 

What precious metal is in a catalytic converter? 


Along with platinum, palladium and rhodium, there are other metals in catalytic converter that increase their worth. Catalytic converters have a unique structure inside of the metal box, which includes copper, nickel, iron, cerium and manganese. The amount of each metal fluctuates depending on the manufacturer, the type of vehicle it was made for and the year it was made. 

Because of the fluctuations of materials used in catalytic converters, it is hard to know the exact worth of an individual catalytic converter. The types of metal in the catalytic converter are enticing, regardless. For recently made catalytic converters, there are usually 2-7 grams of palladium, 2-7 grams of platinum, and 1-2 grams of rhodium.

Worth of metals in catalytic converters


It is difficult to name the exact worth of catalytic converters because of how often the manufacturing changes and the price of metal fluctuates. Precious metals are a nonrenewable resource and are used in many daily products. Metals found in catalytic converters are also found in cell phones, laptops, necklaces and more. When there is a higher demand, the price of metal rises. 

In recent years, platinum has been priced around $31 a gram, palladium at $72 a gram, and rhodium at $287 a gram. This can make the worth of catalytic converters rise drastically. The average price of catalytic converters is around $1,000, and also depends on labor costs, transportation, and manufacturing costs. Recently made catalytic converters are manufactured with less precious metals than ones made previously. This is because of how scarce precious metals are becoming. This often leads to catalytic converter thieves targeting older cars, as they hope to find more precious metal to sell.

Can you drive without catalytic converter metal? 


If a car's catalytic converter is stolen, its harmful emissions are no longer prevented from entering the environment. This can lead to harmful or poor air quality, and the car will not meet the state’s regulations. The car can be driven short distances, but it is not safe for the environment when a car continuously emits harmful toxins. Some choose to remove their catalytic converter from their vehicle to boost horsepower, although this can lead to authorities fining $250. 

Because the catalytic converter is underneath the vehicle and not easily visible, it may be difficult to know if the catalytic converter was stolen. There are a few symptoms a car will show if the catalytic converter was stolen. The car will have loud noises, and it will almost sound like roaring. The exhaust will be unregulated, which means that driving and acceleration will be rough, jarring and uneven. 

Catalytic compliance: Replacing your catalytic converter 


If a catalytic converter is stolen, it is crucial to replace the car part so that it does not emit toxic emissions and the car drives safely. Catalytic converter replacements can be expensive but they will last the entire length of the car's life, and every state has regulations for catalytic converters. 

Compliance Material Sourcing Regulations 


There are regulations for how catalytic converters are manufactured and what catalytic converters can be used for each state. Vehicles have needed a catalytic converter to meet federally mandated emission standards since 1975. There are two major standards that catalytic converters are compared to - Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards, and California Aire Resources Board (CARB) standards.

Most states require catalytic converters that meet EPA standards, though some states have stricter standards that require CARB-compliant catalytic converters. CARB-compliant converters are more elaborate than EPA standards with more precious metals used in their making. CARB-compliant converters will also have an Executive Order (EO) number or stamp on its body. States like California and Colorado require that catalytic converters are CARB-compliant with an EO number and a 5-year warranty. If someone needs to replace their catalytic converter, it is crucial to check the regulations of the state. 

Is catalytic converter theft covered by insurance? 


Not every automotive insurance provides coverage for a stolen catalytic converter. To ensure coverage on a catalytic converter, it is recommended to get comprehensive insurance. Comprehensive insurance provides coverage if a car part is stolen. This could include any car part, including keys, and also includes catalytic converters. Comprehensive insurance will pay for the damage to your vehicle and part that was stolen

How to prevent catalytic converter theft? 


There are a few steps you can take in order to prevent your catalytic converter from being stolen. The easiest and cheapest way to prevent converter theft is by parking strategically. Thieves need to slide under the vehicle in order to remove the catalytic converter. The way you park can discourage thieves from targeting your car. This can be done by parking close to walls and fences,  in well-lit areas, and in areas with high foot traffic. Many catalytic converters have a serial number that makes it easily identified if it is stolen, and a sticker is provided that shows your catalytic converter is marked. This will also discourage thieves from stealing your catalytic converter. 

Another more expensive option is installing an anti-theft device. Some auto shops install this by bolting a metal shield to the frame of the vehicle, which covers the catalytic converter. If you have the skill, you can also install an anti-theft device yourself by drilling holes into the vehicle frame and attaching a cover with bolts and fasteners.  Catalytic converters are crucial to protecting the environment and protecting them from thieves saves the air quality and your wallet. 


Majestic Corporation has been a leading precious metals recyclers, non-ferrous metals and Catalytic converter provider for around five decades. With a presence in the United States, United Kingdom, Malaysia, Italy, Mexico, Australia, Hong Kong and more, as well as a network of precious metals refineries around the world, we work with major customers and partners in a transparent and discrete manner and only offer the highest quality services at competitive prices. 

Contact us here for more information.

1 678.691.4257

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