Why Do People Steal Catalytic Converters?

Vehicles are manufactured with several components which are made from different raw materials. Every element of a car makes it complete; however, some parts are more valuable than others.

The catalytic converter is one of the valuable components. How valuable is the catalytic converter in a car? Why do people steal catalytic converters?

Let’s find out the critical reason behind criminals who have developed an interest in stealing catalytic converters from parked vehicles, especially at night or in areas where the theft process cannot be easily noticed.

Why Do People Steal Catalytic Converters?

what to do if catalytic converter is stolen

People stealing catalytic converters do so because they are very valuable components in every car, especially the expensive ones. Catalytic converters are made with very precious metals like rhodium, platinum, and palladium.

The precious metals used in manufacturing the catalytic converters of vehicles are more valuable than gold. They are very expensive from source and any components they are present in, and one of those components is the catalytic converter.

A car’s catalytic converter is worth between $100 and $1,000; hence, criminals are willing to do all they can to get the component off any vehicle and sell it on the black market. The value of the catalytic converter remains even until scrap level.

Impacts of catalytic converter being stolen

Some of the disadvantages of catalytic converters being stolen or removed from vehicles include the following.

Offense by law

The United States Environmental Protection Agency prohibits car owners from removing catalytic converters from their cars, except through a specific process.

This act may lead to strict legal punishment if the correct information is not received from the appropriate agency in the states.

Emission concern

The catalytic converter helps to remove high levels of carbon monoxide produced through the combustion process; so that it is replaced with carbon dioxide.

Driving without the catalytic converter will release direct emissions into the atmosphere, contributing to environmental pollution and is also a culprit to global warming.

Environmental disturbance (noise pollution)

The catalytic converter also helps to curb the sound produced by a vehicle while people drive. Taking it out would automatically break that covering and cause the car to make a loud roar as the gas pedal is depressed. This is not good for human ears.

High fuel consumption

The catalytic converter does not just aid the combustion process to be less harmful; it also ensures fuel consumption economy. Driving without the catalytic converter will automatically reverse this function. Thereby, your vehicle will consume more fuel.

How can I prevent my catalytic converter from being stolen?

It is pretty easy to prevent your vehicle’s catalytic converter from being stolen. The two strategies are important methods on how to prevent catalytic converter theft.

Park in a well-secured and open environment

It is better for you to park your car in an open environment with constant passers-by. At night, endeavor to park in well-lit areas where you can look through and see your vehicle at a glance.

Install an anti-theft device in your car

Another way to secure your car’s catalytic converter is to install a catalytic converter anti-theft device. You can also install a generic security/anti-theft device that rings anytime someone makes an unnecessary advance to touch any part of the car. This will help to alert you always.

who buys stolen catalytic converters


How do I know if my catalytic converter has been stolen?

It is not easy to obviously tell whether your vehicle’s catalytic converter has been stolen or not. It can’t be detected by mere eyesight. The primary way to determine that a car’s catalytic converter has been stolen is to start the engine.

The absence of the catalytic converter will release the sound of the vehicle to be very loud and disturbing. The noise will usually increase in direct proportion to the extent to which the gas pedal is pressed down.

How much is a stolen catalytic converter worth?

A stolen catalytic converter is worth around $80 to $800 on the black market. The catalytic converter is not all valuable, but the metal components are the valuable parts that criminals would do anything to get.

The catalytic converter contains precious metals like rhodium and platinum. These metals are expensive to purchase, so anyone who gets access to a catalytic converter has found something precious to convert into a good amount of money via the black market.

Now that you know the worth of your vehicle’s catalytic converter to the criminals out there, you must endeavor to do everything possible to guide this component with all consciousness.

What is in a catalytic converter that is so valuable?

A catalytic converter is valuable because it contains the following precious metals; palladium, platinum, and rhodium. Meanwhile, all these metals are indeed precious, and they seem to be very expensive in the market.

As of March, the price of these metals almost hit the sum of $30,000 an ounce. Platinum seems to be more valuable than gold, but rhodium supersedes them both. It is more valuable than platinum and much more valuable than gold.

The value of these metals in the catalytic converter is enough to attract criminals to do everything they can within their power just to gain access to the catalytic converter and cart away with it.

Which cars are most likely to have catalytic converters stolen?

Some vehicles are more porous to criminals than others; that’s why they leverage this loophole to quickly access their catalytic converters and get them off for sale.

Most stolen catalytic converters reports are associated with the following vehicles; Toyota Prius, Trucks or pick up (all makes), SUVs (all makes), passenger cars (especially Honda), and Vans (especially Honda), etc.

If you own any of the vehicles makes outlined on the list above, it would be best to guard your car’s catalytic converter and other components carefully by parking your vehicle in a safe and public place. Any slight loose guard can create an avenue for the criminals around to access the catalytic converter and other valuable parts.

If you are asking, “Which cars are least likely to have catalytic converters stolen?” Some of the cars include Chevy, Ford, Chrysler, Dodge, Mazda, Hyundai, Jeep, etc.

Learn More: Which cars are least likely to have their catalytic converter stolen

What are the most valuable catalytic converters to scrap?

Catalytic converters seem to be the most expensive part of selling at scrap value. The component consists of rhodium, platinum, and palladium, which makes it very expensive compared to other parts of a vehicle.

These three precious metals are very expensive, and that automatically makes the catalytic converter a costly component even at the scrap. Criminals who steal vehicle parts wouldn’t mind trailing a car for as long as possible to access the catalytic converter.

So, you must endeavor to protect the component, even at the scrap. It is valuable at all times, whether it is new or at scrap level. You can always sell it at a reasonable rate.

What vehicle has the most expensive catalytic converter?

Ferrari F430 is the car with the most expensive catalytic converter, among others. The catalytic converter costs around $3,770, and the car requires two catalytic converters, which sums the total cost of its catalytic converters to $7,540.

A single catalytic converter is expensive, not to talk of a car using two of them. Some other vehicles with expensive catalytic converters include; Rolls Royce, Lamborghini, Porsche, BMW (specific models), Dodge Ram, Ford Mustang, etc.

How much gold is in a catalytic converter?

There is no gold contained in catalytic converters. Catalytic converter metals consist of rhodium, platinum, and palladium. These components, especially rhodium and platinum, are very much more expensive than gold.

However, they are all precious metals and are valuable. The value of the catalytic converter is indirectly a function of the value of the precious metals used in making it. Some vehicles’ catalytic converters cost more than others because of the amount of precious metal used.

How much is the platinum in a catalytic converter worth?

The worth of the platinum in catalytic converter depends on the size, type, and age of the vehicle on which it is found. However, the PGMs in catalytic converters are worth between $100 and $1,000 or even more.

Newer or smaller cars are fitted with catalytic converters worth somewhere around $100; while, the older and larger vehicles are equipped with catalytic converters worth more than $600. No wonder a criminal would do anything possible to steal the component against all odds.

If you wonder who buys stolen catalytic converters, criminals have dedicated customers (buyers) who know how the components are gotten. However, they do not mind because they get to make a profit from the transaction in the end.

How much is a BMW catalytic converter worth?

A BMW’s catalytic converter is quite expensive, even at scrap value. The catalytic converter of the 2002 BMW 323i is estimated to cost around $500 to $800 at scrap price. The component is the most expensive component that can be sold at the scrap.

The worth of the catalytic converter of the BMW and some other unique vehicle makes, and models are part of the reasons why the cars are relatively expensive.

A lot of precious materials are used to build these vehicles, one of which is the rhodium, platinum, and palladium in the catalytic converter.

Is catalytic converter theft covered by insurance?

Yes, catalytic converter theft is covered by comprehensive car insurance. It is pertinent to note that the insurance must be a comprehensive one to cover catalytic converter theft.

The insurer will replace an insured vehicle’s catalytic converter in case of theft or severe damage through an accident. However, car owners are expected to protect every component of their car as carefully as possible.

However, if something unexpected occurs, the insurance company is obligated to indemnify the car owner by ensuring that the stolen components are restored or any damaged parts are repaired or replaced.

Final Words

If you were contemplating, “Why do people steal catalytic converters?” The apparent reason why people (criminals) steal catalytic converters has been revealed in this article. The criminals know the worth of the component; that’s why they would do anything possible to steal it.

Therefore, every car owner has a responsibility to secure their car and all its components. Otherwise, criminals may have their way to access some of the valuable components in a case where they can’t steal the car.

Whether an insurance cover has been taken on a car or not, the owner’s responsibility is to ensure that they are not careless with their car, primarily because of valuable components like the catalytic converter.

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Osuagwu Solomon

Osuagwu Solomon is a certified mechanic with over a decade of experience in the mechanic garage, and he has over five years of experience in the writing industry. He started writing automotive articles to share his garage experience with car enthusiasts and armature mechanics. If he is not in the garage fixing challenging mechanical problems, he is writing automotive repair guides, buyer’s guides, and car and tools comparisons.

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