There is no question that catalytic converter thefts have skyrocketed since 2020. After the global pandemic and economic woes that have increased crime in many cities and suburbs across the country, catalytic converter thieves continue to prowl the streets seeking a quick steal. From targeting vehicles parked in home driveways to city parking garages, and shopping mall parking lots, more than 50,000 catalytic converters were stolen in 2021 alone, according to an article by Car & Driver.
With federal legislation in the works to dampen catalytic converter thefts, there is hardly any sure way to fully stop a thief from attempting to cut off this vital exhaust piece from your undercarriage. However, there are solutions one can add to their car, truck, or SUV to prevent thieves from removing catalytic converters for the expensive metals on the inside. If you're reading this after your car's catalytic converter has been stolen, or you're curious about how to handle your vehicle after its converter was stolen, here are some essential details to keep in mind.
What Happens if Your Catalytic Converter is Stolen?
Aside from feeling a wave of deep anger and the craving to seek vengeance on the thieves that ripped you off, you were taken advantage of. All for an essential car part that is likely going to cost you up to $1,000+ to replace. Depending on what type of car you drive, you may or may not experience any immediate complications upon starting your car. However, when you leave your parking space, you may quickly notice that something is off.
You may catch the scent of unusual and potent exhaust fumes. These odd smells are because the catalytic converter is a piece that purifies the toxic exhaust that emanates from your engine's combustion process. Metals inside your catalytic converter, like palladium, platinum, and rhodium, cleanse these toxic gases, transforming them into CO2 and water vapor before they are expelled out your tailpipe. Without it, the exhaust fumes will emit straight from the engine and exhaust manifold. This is the reason why the catalytic converter is a mandatory piece required by law to pass your state's emissions test.
If you don't smell any unusual exhaust fumes after just having your catalytic converter stolen, more than likely, you'll feel and hear an abnormal rumbling or rattling vibration from the undercarriage. Because the catalytic converter was taken, there's a chance that the exhaust pipe it is connected to is dangling or dragging against the road. If you experience this, stop driving and pull over immediately. Driving with loose pipes dangling from your undercarriage could create sparks and potentially start a fire.
If you experience any abnormalities when starting your car, look beneath your undercarriage for any signs of cut exhaust pipes. You'll know if your catalytic converter is missing because there will be a space between the exhaust pipe, and if your car is running, you will see sputtering exhaust fumes and moisture leaking onto the ground. More than likely, you'll see a puddle beneath your vehicle and metal shavings. Play it smart. Instead of driving, call a tow truck to have your car towed to the nearest auto body shop or dealership where you purchased your vehicle.
Best Catalytic Converter Anti-Theft Devices
Because it only takes an average of three minutes for criminals to cut your catalytic converter from your car, drivers should consider installing protective devices to their car's undercarriage. There are several different ways to protect and prevent catalytic converter theft. It's recommended that drivers engrave their license plate or serial numbers on their converter housing. But since most criminals today are selling converters for the expensive metals rather than the part itself, there is no sure way that a serial number will deter a criminal.
Catalytic Converter Shields
The best catalytic converter anti-theft device is a shield guard. They cover the entire catalytic converter along with its connecting pipes making it impossible for thieves to reach your catalytic converter. There is no welding involved with installation and they are lightweight and durable.
A decent option for catalytic converter protection is an alarm device that can be set off when the car is parked. If any vibrations to your exhaust pipes occur, the alarm will alert or sound off, hopefully scaring the criminal away from beneath your undercarriage. However, there are drawbacks to battery-operated alarms, especially with the wear and tear they will endure while attached to your vehicle's undercarriage.
Catalytic Converter Locks
A secondary feature is a catalytic converter lock. This device consists of steel clamps and cables that fit around your exhaust pipe and converter body. Essentially, it is a cage that secures your converter body to your vehicle's frame. Keep in mind, though this mechanism seems like a secure feature, it is subject to corrosion, and criminals still might have the tools to cut through the steel cables to reach the catalytic converter body.
The Sure Solution for Preventing Catalytic Converter Theft
There is only one sure way to protect your catalytic converter from thieves, and that is with a shield guard by Cat Security. No welding is involved for installation, and the shields are lightweight and durable, making it impossible for thieves to reach the connection pipes to your catalytic converter with a saw.
A shield for your catalytic converter is the top option for protection because it bolts an impenetrable shield into your frame that can't be cut into. Whether you drive a hybrid vehicle like the Toyota Prius, a truck like the Toyota Tundra, or an SUV like the Honda Element, you can safeguard your vehicle's catalytic converter affordably. You can also customize your catalytic converter shield for a specific vehicle by contacting the Cat Security team.