Astoria Mechanic | Collision Repair | Tolimas Auto Center

catalytic converter theft and replacment

Catalytic Converter Theft and Replacement

This year there has been a sudden increase in the rate of theft of customer’s cars catalytic converters. There is a global rare earth metal supply shortage due to the Corona Virus lock downs last year, the cost of rare earth metals has gone through the roof. Thieves are now stealing catalytic converters in record numbers because they can trade them in to shady metal recycles for hundreds of dollars each. Their victims then have to usually spend thousands replacing the stock catalytic converters that got stolen plus whatever else the thieves damaged while stealing the old catalytic converters. This article will explain what catalytic converters do in your car’s exhaust system. Why they are so expensive to replace in New York State. And finally what you can do to deter theft of the catalytic converter on your vehicle.

What do catalytic converters do?

Catalytic converters are the most important part of your car’s emissions system. It runs inline with your exhaust piping and reduces the pollution produced by your engine through the combustion process. It accomplishes this using by using a mesh made out of a special combination of rare earth metals. The exhaust passes through this mesh and gets super heated denaturing and reducing the toxic gasses in your car’s exhaust.

Why are they popular theft item?

Due to the precious metals in your catalytic converter it can be sold for hundreds of dollars. The Covid-19 lock downs have made precious metals even more valuable. So thieves make easy money by simply cutting them out with a cordless hack saw. Then they can get hundreds of dollars for the used catalytic converters by selling them to shady metal recyclers that ship them overseas.

What can you do to prevent your Catalytic Converter from getting stolen?

There are a couple of things you can do to deter thieves from stealing your catalytic converter.

  1. Have your car’s VIN etched on to your catalytic converter. That way in case theft does occur it would be easier for the police to identify your catalytic converter as stolen if a criminal is caught with it.
  2. If your car’s anti theft system has sensitivity settings increasing the sensitivity would cause your alarm to sound while they attempt to cut the catalytic out.
  3. Installing a dash cam system with a parking mode would also increase the chance of video recording the thieves as they steal the steal the catalytic converter, which would help law enforcement find the perpetrators.
  4. There are aftermarket catalytic converter protector systems that surround the catalytic converter in a metal cage to make it harder to steal.

From what we have seen at Tolima’s Auto Center is that most of the victims car’s tend to be Sport Utility Vehicles with high ground clearance which makes it easier for the thieves to crawl under the car to cut it out.

Why are Catalytic Converters so expensive to replace?

Catalytic converters are expensive to replace because New York has very strict emissions laws which require our shop to use dealer catalytic converters or OEM, which are much more expensive than aftermarket catalytic converters. Newer cars are also much more sensitive to aftermarket catalytic converters which can cause the car to have a check engine light and fail the New York State emissions inspection unless it is a factory catalytic. If you have any questions regarding catalytic converters, emissions, or New York State Inspections feel free to contact us.

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