5 Ways to Prevent Catalytic Converter Theft

Becky Holiday | Jan 12, 2022 | minute read

Catalytic Converter Theft Is Becoming a Real Issue

5 Ways to Prevent Catalytic Converter TheftWith all that is going on in our world, who would think we need to be locking our exhaust systems in our vehicle. Thefts of catalytic converters have increased dramatically. Catalytic converter theft surged by 293 percent from 4,500 to 19,000 across the country between July 1, 2020, and June 30, 2021. This has increased another 200% in the last quarter of 2021.

A leading auto insurance company has seen a 650% increase in insurance claims for catalytic converters in the past two years, with the average cost for customers around $1,900. 79% of theft claims were for Honda, Lexus, and Toyota hybrid vehicles. Many thefts occur in parking lots of shopping malls and stores.

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Thieves take the devices to scrap metal dealers before being stolen again, this time targeting automobiles with the rarest metals in their catalysts. They also target pickup trucks and other trucks that sit high off the ground, as crawling underneath them is easier. Authorities in Torrance, California, recently completed a three-month crackdown on catalytic converter thieves, capturing 20 individuals.

How to Reduce the Likelihood of a Theft of Your Catalectic Coveter

  1. Consider having the VIN number of your vehicle etched on the converter. Some owners have the converters painted a bright color with high-temperature paints to indicate when it has been stolen.
  2. Install motion sensors or anti-theft systems on your vehicle.
  3. Parking in a locked or secure garage is the most secure option, especially at night or for long periods of time, or using a restricted garage or lot during the day when you're at work or running errands.
  4. Many people are considering installing anti-theft cages and covers that rivet into the underbody of a vehicle.
  5. Park in well-lit areas. Parking under street lights or in well-lit areas can help deter theft. If the lot or parking garage you're in has a lot of foot traffic, it will be difficult for someone to steal your catalytic converter without being noticed. A security camera can offer some deterrence. Keep an eye out for lights and security cameras in your parking lot, and try to find a location where the cameras can see you.

Can I Drive My Car Without the Catalytic Converter?

The most telling characteristic of a missing converter is if your car starts up much louder than normal. Why? The noise is caused by a stolen catalytic converter, which disconnects the muffler.

Your car will also appear less responsive and have less acceleration than usual. Unclean exhaust may also emit a noxious odor. All you have to do is stop or pull over safely and inspect the undercarriage for an obvious hole near the muffler.

Catalytic Converter Theft

Is a Theft of a Catalytic Converter Covered Unser an Auto Insurance Policy?

If you have standard comprehensive coverage on your auto insurance policy, you are usually protected against catalytic converter theft. Comprehensive coverage on your auto policy may pay to replace the stolen converter and repair any damage caused by its removal subject to the policy terms, but it is best to check with your current insurance agent to ensure you are covered in the event of theft like this. A loss would be subject to any deductible you have on the auto policy.

What to Do if Your Catalytic Converter Is Stolen?

If you discover that your catalytic converter is missing, you should contact the authorities right away. They will examine local security cameras and work to identify the person who stole your converter. A police report may also be required for your insurance coverage.

Depending on your policy, your auto insurance may cover the replacement of your catalytic converter. You can check with your independent insurance agent to see what your options are and if you are covered.

Lastly, take your vehicle to a mechanic for service. An expert can talk you through your repair options and keep you from driving without your catalytic converter.

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