DeAnn Owens
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How to Prevent Catalytic Converter Theft

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View of a city street with cars parked down the side and tall buildings on each side.
Photo: StockSnap

Although it is not a new concern for vehicle owners, catalytic converter theft seems to be spiking in popularity right now. Why are thieves so interested in a hard-to-reach part that most drivers probably rarely think about? Turns out, catalytic converters are made of precious, valuable metals, making them a real treasure for thieves.

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“Catalytic converters are notorious for one thing and one thing only, they’re very expensive to replace. In fact, the catalytic converter is the single most expensive part of most vehicles,” according to J.D. Power writer Dustin Hawley.

A component of a vehicle’s exhaust system, the catalytic converter’s job is to reduce emissions. Hawley notes that its outside resembles a small muffler. The inside features a honeycomb mesh. Precious metals coat the mesh, creating a perfect environment for an ideal gas and catalyst interaction.

“Catalytic converters use a chemical catalyst to clean up your exhaust. With this catalyst’s aid, nitrogen oxide becomes nitrogen and oxygen, carbon monoxide becomes carbon dioxide, and remaining unburnt hydrocarbons are converted to water and carbon dioxide,” explains Hawley.

For a successful interaction, the catalytic converter needs specific catalysts, and pricey rare metals including rhodium, palladium, and platinum, he adds.

Ways to protect your catalytic converter 

Although a determined thief will get the job done at all costs, you can throw a wrench into their plans, steering them away from your catalytic converter.

It’s all about location. Vehicles parked on the street, in poorly lit areas, and even in driveways will draw the attention of thieves, according to USA Today writer Nathan Bomey. If possible, find a secure parking garage to store your vehicle. If one is not available to you, search for a spot that offers a lot of people traffic and bright lights.

“Consider buying an aftermarket device best described as a metal cage that can be installed to cover the catalytic converter, much like the Club device hooked into a steering wheel makes it harder to steal a car,” advises Bomey.

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Hopefully, these tips can help your catalytic converter stay far from the hands of thieves.