Our vehicles have many components that allow them to function, and many of these parts cost a great deal of money to replace and repair. Theft related to automotive vehicles has been common for years, and one of the most popular parts stolen is the catalytic converter. Many wonder why this part is so sought after and what there is to gain from having it.
What is a Catalytic Converter?
A catalytic converter is a component of a vehicle's exhaust system responsible for filtering toxic gases that an engine emits while powering a car. These parts are equipped for use in an internal combustion engine that takes fuel sources such as gasoline and diesel. There are different catalytic converters, such as the two-way and three-way converters, which will filter out various toxins in the fumes with multiple filters. As technology has advanced, most catalytic converters are three-way converters and very few two-way converters are still around.
What Is the Purpose of a Catalytic Converter?
A catalytic converter will convert the fumes from the engine into a safer form of gas, such as steam or hot air, by filtering out the particles and molecules, such as CO2, that would prove harmful to humans and the atmosphere. The catalytic converter is an aid to environmental use that helps prevent many toxic gases from entering the air and harming the atmosphere. Filtering the gases emitted from the engine will also improve performance by helping maintain the engine. The gas from the machine will also cause overheating over time due to the chemical components inside. The converter will decrease the heat and allow your engine to run longer without lagging or failing.
What Vehicles Have Catalytic Converters?
Vehicles have had catalytic converters for decades. Ever since 1975, when converters were federally mandated, every new car has had a catalytic converter. As stated before, these two-way converters have decreased to a minimum in the present, but during the 1970s, 80s, and 90s, automotive companies used them to filter out toxic fumes that would have harmed people near the car. Three-way converters are common, given their ability to filter out more toxins and produce cleaner air.
Why Do People Want to Steal a Catalytic Converter?
Like any part of a car someone decides to steal, people steal catalytic converters for monetary gain. People sell them for high prices due to their materials. Their filtering process's functionality requires meticulous work and the use of metals that will sustain these processes.
The Materials of a Catalytic Converter
Various materials make a catalytic converter. Given the toxic chemicals in the gas coming from the engine, converters inside the catalytic converter will need to withstand the chemicals and potential oxidation while converting them into a cleaner gas. The most common metals in catalytic converters are stainless steel, platinum, palladium, and rhodium, with some newer converters containing gold. Platinum, palladium, and rhodium are noble metals and won't react to oxidation. These metals have been used in various engineering and applied sciences applications and come in a limited supply, making them rare and valuable. Their rarity is why people steal catalytic converters. The resale value is very high.
How Much Is a Catalytic Converter Worth?
New catalytic converters and resale ones go for different prices. A converter may sell anywhere from $50 to $1,500, depending on if you sell to a scrapper or an official establishment. Larger vehicles, such as trucks, with bigger engines will have larger catalytic converters, which will translate to better resale due to the many precious metals inside. The number of catalytic converters stolen each year keeps increasing due to the manufacturing of newer vehicles that require better components, such as the converter, and trucks with more powerful new engines that produce more exhaust.
Does a Vehicle Need a Catalytic Converter?
Although it is a useful and valuable car part, any vehicle will run without a catalytic converter. The converter is present in a car because of its ability to help the environment and reduce the number of toxic gasses that may harm people. Still, it doesn't directly impact the vehicle's ability to run. Although, if you want your engine to last longer, it is advisable to have a catalytic converter to prevent constant overheating.
Which Cars Are Targeted the Most?
Vehicles with larger engines, or vehicles that require more engine power, will likely have impressive catalytic converters. Trucks and jeeps have larger engines, and truck engines use diesel, which produces more exhaust. People need converters with more precious metals to handle the extra chemicals flowing from the engine. Luxury vehicles and their parts are prime targets for theft, especially if they have a supercar body kit or other elite vehicle attachments. Since these vehicles use more power in their engines, they will create more exhaust as they drive faster, requiring a better catalytic converter with better materials to withstand heavy-duty filtering.
Are There Ways To Prevent This Theft?
There are a few simple ways to prevent your catalytic converter from becoming stolen. Etching your license plate number into the converter will make it easily identifiable by you, law enforcement, and any businesses to which the thief may sell it. Installing a sensor or camera to the bottom of your vehicle that will trigger an alarm will also deter criminals from stealing it and give you a visual identification of the person. You could also park your car in a well-lit area or a garage if available to make it difficult for someone to steal it discretely.
Signs Your Catalytic Converter Has Been Stolen
If you hear your car making a loud rumbling or feel it shake more than usual as you accelerate, your catalytic converter may have been stolen. The converter causes a vehicle to make less noise because of the filtering of the chemicals, which are thicker because of the pollutants. The cleaner air will make less noise and cause less shaking.
The catalytic converter is a valuable piece of a vehicle, making it a target for theft. As more people understand why these components are so valuable and necessary, there is a better chance of protecting them by taking preventative measures to keep them away from thieves.