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What are Catalytic Converters and Why are They Often Stolen?

Catalytic converters have high rates of theft — but why? Learn everything you need to know below.

A catalytic converter underneath a vehicle.

Catalytic Converters, Explained

On the most basic level, your catalytic converter transforms potentially harmful pollutants and emissions into safe gasses. 

There are three dangerous compounds produced in your car: carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, and nitrogen oxide. The catalytic converter lives between the engine and the muffler within the exhaust system. It uses precious metals — “catalysts” — to create chemical reactions that convert these harmful toxins into harmless substances.

Why People Steal Catalytic Converters

People steal catalytic converters for one simple reason — to sell them. 

There are two main markets for catalytic converters. The first is shady auto shops. Replacing a broken catalytic converter can cost a lot of money for a customer, and if their vehicle is older, they may not want to invest in a new one since their car has low resale value. If an auto shop can get catalytic converters for older car models on the cheap — say, because they buy them from someone who stole them — then they can offer them to customers at a steep discount. 

But more commonly, catalytic converters are stolen for the precious metals they contain. These metals (palladium, rhodium, and platinum) are in limited supply and have high demand, so they sell for very high prices. Most people who steal catalytic converters are selling them to metal dealers.

Catalytic Converter Replacements

If your catalytic converter is stolen, you’ll obviously need a replacement. Thankfully, when theft is involved your insurance company will often cover the costs.

We would love to help you with your catalytic converter replacement — and we promise we aren’t one of those shady auto shops mentioned above. Our technicians are ASE-certified and we offer a 5-year/50,000 mile warranty on all repairs. Contact us today to get your car back up and running.

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