What To Do About Catalytic Converter Theft

What’s Going On With Catalytic Converter Theft In Chicago?

Your car has something that’s very valuable to thieves. It isn’t your stereo system or expensive hubcaps. Instead, thieves in the Chicago area are targeting machinery that’s underneath the car — the catalytic converter.

It only takes seconds to remove and is required for your car to run properly. The theft can mean you’re unable to drive your car and that it needs to be replaced. What can you do to prevent catalytic converter theft? Follow the tips below from Milito’s Auto Repair about how to prevent this from happening to you — and what you can do if it does.

What Is a Catalytic Converter?

Catalytic converters are a critical component of your car’s exhaust system. Located under the car and attached to the exhaust pipe, typically with bolts, they have an important job — to remove potentially harmful compounds from the exhaust gases before they’re expelled into the air.

In order to reduce air pollution, all modern vehicles are equipped with a catalytic converter that reduces emissions of three harmful compounds found in car exhaust:

  • Carbon monoxide
  • Nitrogen oxides
  • Hydrocarbons

These gases are converted into less harmful compounds before leaving the car’s exhaust system through the use of a catalyst — hence, the name “catalytic converter.”

Catalytic Convert Theft in Chicago Can Be Stopped with Tips from Milito's Auto Repair Lincoln Park

Why Catalytic Converters Are Stolen

The main reason that catalytic converters are stolen is because they’re valuable to scrap metal dealers. They contain precious metals, including rhodium, platinum, and palladium. These metals can be sold to scrap yards for $150 to $200 per piece, depending on the size of the converter and the current rate on the metals inside it.

All cars made after 1974 are required to have catalytic converters. Some are more appealing to thieves than others. SUVs, for example, are easier to crawl under which makes them an easier target. The higher up your car sits, the greater the chance of theft.

Chicago actually led the nation in catalytic converter theft in 2016. Chicagoans experienced 980 converter thefts between 2008-2016, which was 15 percent more over that time frame than second-ranked Sacramento, California, which had 850.

Symptoms of Catalytic Converter Theft

If you’re a thief, it’s not a complex crime to commit. A catalytic converter can typically be removed in just a few minutes by using a saw or a wrench. Slicing through the piping on both sides of the converter before it’s pulled off is the most common method. And while you might not be able to tell it was stolen just by looking at your car, there will be no mistaking it once you start the engine.

When the catalytic converter has been removed, your vehicle will make a loud roaring sound, getting louder as you push on the gas. Since the exhaust isn’t working properly, the vehicle also drives rougher than usual. You’ll hear a sputtering sound as you change speed.

On a normal vehicle, a catalytic converter is a round canister that connects two pieces of piping in the exhaust. If you look underneath and see a gaping space in the middle of your exhaust, your catalytic converter has been stolen.

How To Prevent Your Catalytic Converter From Being Stolen

Fortunately, there are precautionary steps you can take to decrease the likelihood of having your catalytic converter stolen:

  • Park in well-lit areas and close to building entrances, when possible.
  • Have a mechanic weld the catalytic converter to your car’s frame, making it harder to steal.
  • Park your car inside your garage and keep all garage doors shut and locked.
  • Set your car’s alarm to go off when it detects vibration.
  • Engrave your vehicle identification number (VIN) on the catalytic converter — a scrap dealer might be alerted that it was stolen and this makes it easier to identify the owner.

Does Insurance Cover a Stolen Catalytic Converter?

While it’s a small part of your vehicle, having to replace a catalytic converter can come with a big price tag. Costing between $1,000-$2,000 — more if the thieves also cut the oxygen sensor or a pipe. And it’s illegal to drive without one, but the good news is that insurance will most often cover the expense — if you have comprehensive coverage.

Because the catalytic converter is part of the vehicle that’s permanently installed, the comprehensive deductible will apply. The insurance company will inspect the vehicle to assess all the damages and then compensate you accordingly.

However, cars with a liability-only policy can’t be covered for any type of theft or vandalism. That means theft of your catalytic converter would not be covered. Comprehensive coverage is often inexpensive to add to your policy, so talk to your agent about what protection you have.

Come To Milito’s Auto Repair To Replace Your Catalytic Converter

If your catalytic converter has been stolen, the first thing you should do is report it to the police. The next step is to bring your vehicle to Milito’s Auto Repair in Chicago. We can replace your catalytic converter with one that meets strict emissions standards, all while providing exceptional — and affordable — customer service.

We can also weld it to the exhaust system or install a wire cage around the converter, and bolt and weld it to the frame, as a precautionary measure.

Contact Milito’s Auto Repair in Chicago today!

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