Car theft has risen dramatically in the United States during the pandemic — it was up nearly 10% from the previous year in 2020, reversing a two-year decline. Furthermore, catalytic converter theft has increased by over 400% in the last year across the country. This increase is due to the precious metals (platinum, palladium, and rhodium) contained in these emissions-control systems.
Catalytic converter theft has become so rampant, that it has even attracted the attention of Washington lawmakers. Sen. Jeff Wilson, R-Longview, has filed a bill to combat thefts of catalytic converters. The bill, which is scheduled to be addressed during the 2022 legislative session, would ban scrap dealers from buying catalytic converters from anyone other than commercial enterprises and vehicle owners.
According to reports, the surge of thefts is due to supply chain issues. The supply chain has made it difficult for dealers to obtain replacement catalytic converters through legitimate channels, resulting in a black market. The precious metals inside the units, on the other hand, have historically been the most significant motivator of thefts. Catalytic converters stolen in the country are frequently illegally exported, and the metals recycled.
What can you do to keep your catalytic converter from being stolen? You can’t ensure that the catalytic converter won’t be stolen, but you can get the correct auto insurance to avoid paying for it yourself.
What is a catalytic converter?
A catalytic converter is a part of your car that minimizes hazardous emissions. Since 1975, it has been a requirement for all gas-powered vehicles. It comprises a metal-coated ceramic honeycomb (usually platinum, rhodium, and palladium) that permits harmful compounds in the automotive exhaust to recombine and transform into safer gases.
By converting pollutants into harmless gases, catalytic converters serve as a line of defense against dangerous exhaust system emissions.
How do catalytic converters get stolen?
Thieves often use a saw or wrench to remove it, and the process can take as little as one minute. So, what can you do to avoid the theft of catalytic converters? Continue reading to learn more about what thieves may be looking for and how to protect your car.
Where is your catalytic converter located?
Your catalytic converter is on the underside of your car. It is usually between the engine and the muffler on most cars.
How much does it cost to replace a stolen catalytic converter?
The NICB says that replacing a catalytic converter usually costs between $1,500 and $3,000. The replacement part will cost roughly $1500 and labor another $600-$1000.
Will insurance cover catalytic converter theft?
If you have comprehensive coverage on your auto insurance policy, catalytic converter theft is usually covered. Comprehensive coverage may pay to replace the stolen converter and repair any damage caused by its removal. Still, it’s essential to double-check your coverages with your current insurance agent to make sure you’re insured in the event of theft like this. Despite its name, comprehensive insurance does not cover everything.
Does renters insurance cover catalytic converter theft?
This is a bit of a tricky one. Typically, your renters’ insurance will cover some things to do with cars and not others. Does this include catalytic converter theft? Unfortunately, no. Renters insurance does cover if your car is stolen or something in your car is stolen, but not parts of the car itself.
Why are thieves stealing catalytic converters?
Thieves steal catalytic converters for their resale value. Converters contain precious metals such as rhodium and platinum, which scrap metal dealers extract and resell. Experts say thieves can occasionally get up to $1,000 for a single catalytic converter, depending on its condition and the vehicle it was stolen from.
Is it illegal to drive without a catalytic converter?
Removing the catalytic converter from your car is against the law in every state, even those that don’t enforce emissions standards. Removing the converter yourself is considered a serious offense. The government can legally fine you many thousands of dollars for doing so. If someone stole your catalytic converter, you should file an insurance claim to have the exhaust system repaired.
What to do after your catalytic converter is stolen?
Follow these steps after you discover the theft of your catalytic converter:
- First things first, get in touch with your authorities. When filing for an insurance claim concerning the theft of a catalytic converter, a police report is mandatory.
- Contact your insurance company ASAP. Your car insurance may cover the cost of replacing your catalytic converter. It all depends on your policy.
- Finally, it would be best to have your car serviced by a professional. An expert can talk you through your repair alternatives and help you avoid driving without your catalytic converter.
How to prevent catalytic converter theft
These are some of the preventive measures:
- Park as close to a wall as possible, with the exhaust pipe closest to it. It will be more difficult for a burglar to gain access to the catalytic converter.
- If you have more than one car, park the lower-ground-clearance cars outside of the higher-clearance vehicles (like SUVs).
- Engrave vehicle identification number (VIN).
- Set your car alarm to respond to vibrations if you have one.
- Installing a catalytic converter protection device is a good idea.
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